Door Bolts, Thresholds, and Peep-Holes: Liminality and Domestic Spaces in Early Modern England An Edited Volume

deadline for submissions: 
February 20, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Rob Daniel and Iman Sheeha/ University of Warwick
contact email: 

Domestic spaces lay at the centre of the lives of early modern English men and women.  Yet their liminality has often been under-investigated, if not underestimated, by scholars.  On the one hand, households served as a hubbub of familial and filial activity (housewarmings, births, conventicles, fast/feast days and reading groups), on the other hand as sites of the foreign and fatal (burglaries, squatting, murders, possessions, and devastating fires).  The house was as permeable as it was penetrable.  This despite attempts to ward off or perturb would be intruders: via witches’ marks, locks, bars, fences, guard dogs, community patrols and the ‘watch’.

Yet domestic spaces could also be semi-public ones.  Alehouses, whorehouses, madhouses, university rooms, inns, and workhouses were also places where people lived, lodged or resided.  These had their own share of complex social interactions and dislocations: generational or contractual lodgers, raids by authorities, renovations, balladeers/gossips, brawls, abductions, mistaken identities, and escapes.

We are inviting contributions to an edited volume that aims to investigate the ways that early modern denizens became the unwitting victims or voyeurs and manipulators of the fluidity (rather than the fixity) of the spaces in which they inhabited.  Themes for papers may include (but are not limited to): literary, visual. political, theological, historical, material, musical, polemical or any other treatments of the topics of domestic liminality in print or manuscript in the context of reformation-era England.

Topics explored may include (but are not limited to):

  • ·       Conversations, exchanges and interactions at boundaries/borders (gates, porticos, ledges, balconies)
  • ·       Witches’ circles, ‘scorch marks’, and talismanic/totemic signs on/by/as thresholds
  • ·       Trespassing, thefts and intrusions (via windows, doors, chimneys, rafters)
  • ·       Kidnappings, captivity and escapes
  • ·       Liminal moments (births, exorcisms, extreme unction, last words)
  • ·       Transgressing spatial limits by spying and surveillance (through walls, casements, looking glasses, telescopes)
  • ·       The transitional function of architectural divisions (partitions/screens/dais/arches/niches/secret passages)
  • ·       Peripheral and transferable materialism (objects, graffiti)
  • ·       Acts and re-actions in-between spaces (alleys, corridors, avenues, stairways)
  • ·       Household manuals (theory versus practise)
  • ·       The theatre and domestic spaces (tragedies and their legacies)
  • ·       Workmen, boarders, visitors, servants and apprentices within the home.
  • ·       Accommodating/confronting illicit meetings (conventicles, covens, conspirators)

Initially, we ask for abstracts of around 500 words, together with a CV, to be sent to Robert. W. Daniel (robert.daniel@warwick.ac.uk) and Iman Sheeha (I.sheeha@warwick.ac.uk) by 20 February 2018.