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Join us to help uncover the untold histories of ordinary men and women from across early modern England.

Middling Culture is a major new Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project that aims to transform our understanding of how reading, writing, and material culture fitted into the everyday lives of England’s “middling” people—neither the very rich nor the very poor—in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These were the literate, urban households whose members engaged with a variety of cultural forms for work and beyond.

Listen to project Principle Investigator Prof. Catherine Richardson on why researching early modern england’s middling sort is essential for understanding how creativity and culture affect social mobility:

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You can find out more about the project and its rationale in our opening blog series, HERE.

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Recent Posts

Martin the Minstrel and the Playhouses of Suffolk

How did ordinary people “play” in towns and cities outside of London in early modern England?  Leisure is a crucial aspect of middling experience and a key theme for this project, which aims to understand the different elements of non-elite cultural experience, ranging from gambling to reading to musical tuition. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ipswich and its … Continue reading Martin the Minstrel and the Playhouses of Suffolk

Humphrey Beckham, Craft, and Literacy among the Middling Sort

A common misconception when thinking about those below the level of the elite is that the majority were completely illiterate, with no reading or writing ability whatsoever. Many of those at the centre of Middling Culture were indeed literate, though the extent and nature of their literacy varied. It’s a complex issue, as people learnt … Continue reading Humphrey Beckham, Craft, and Literacy among the Middling Sort

Mudlarking on the Thames, Part 2: What can we do with Fragments and Waste?

In Rubbish Theory, Michael Thompson argues that there are three kinds of value categories: ‘transient’ or ‘here today, gone tomorrow’; ‘durable’ or ‘a joy forever’; and rubbish. Things can move between categories, with a bottle thrown away at its time of use becoming a collectable or a ring that slipped from the finger five hundred … Continue reading Mudlarking on the Thames, Part 2: What can we do with Fragments and Waste?

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