Like many, I am the product of families that have moved to make a living. My middle name is Semple after my grandmother Alice Semple of Kintyre who married William Craig of Glasgow and who moved in 1920 from Glasgow to Halifax, Yorkshire. My mother's name is Raine and although she was born in Cov...
Like many, I am the product of families that have moved to make a living. My middle name is Semple after my grandmother Alice Semple of Kintyre who married William Craig of Glasgow and who moved in 1920 from Glasgow to Halifax, Yorkshire. My mother's name is Raine and although she was born in Coventry, her family comes from Northumberland. Complicating matters, I was born in Wrexham in what used to be called Denbighshire in Wales, began my schooling in Kampala, Uganda, and continued in Birmingham before emigrating with my parents to Canada in 1971. We lived for one year in Swift Current, Saskatchewan before moving to Brandon, Manitoba. I took my BA Hons (1986) and MA (1988) degrees from Carleton University where I worked with Robert Goheen. Thanks to the award of a research studentship at Peterhouse, I went to Cambridge for my doctoral degree which I completed in 1992 under the supervision of Patrick Collinson. I held a research fellowship at Robinson College, Cambridge from 1992-94 before coming to Simon Fraser University in September 1994. Promoted Associate Professor in 1999 and Professor in 2005, I served as Chair of the department of History from 2005-2008.
I am currently working on a study of the politics of reading in the English parish, 1536-1642. Although early modern English social and cultural historians have long probed the significance of the acquisition of literacy in the period between the emergence of English Protestantism and the outbreak of the English Civil War, an important body of material has largely escaped their attention. By 1640, many parish communities owned small collections of books, kept in the parish church for the use of parishioners. Through a systematic examination of the surviving books, parish inventories, glebe terriers and churchwardens' accounts found in county archives, it will be possible not only to catalogue the books owned and purchased by the parish churches of England and Wales, but also to construct an entirely new set of data that permits important questions to be asked about the dissemination of print, the development of popular forms of Protestantism and the political consciousness of parishioners prior to the English Civil War.
I am also working on the soundscapes of worship in early modern England and the cultural politics of prayer, both of these the subject of recent conference papers.