The Centre has two Co-Directors, Doug Field and Ruth Morello, and a team of ‘Core Members’, who together run the Centre.
Douglas Field (English and American Studies) works on British and American avant-garde writing. His current work draws on his curation of “Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground,” which explored how letters during the 1960s helped forge extensive transatlantic networks, as well as showcasing and drafting avant-garde practices.
Ruth Morello (Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Egyptology) has published on Latin letter writers, especially Cicero and Pliny. She is co-author of Reading the Letters of Pliny the Younger (CUP 2012); she has also co-edited Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography (OUP 2007) and a special volume entitled Re-Imagining Pliny the Younger for the journal Arethusa (Arethusa 36.2, 2003).
John Hodgson (John Rylands Library) is Associate Director for Curatorial Practices, with responsibility for the strategic development and management of the Special Collections.
Jeremy Penner (John Rylands Library) is Curator for Africa and Near East Collections, with responsibility for Armenian, Ethiopian and Syriac manuscripts, cuneiform texts, and Egyptian papyri.
Howard Booth (English and American Studies) works on three broad themes which often appear in combination: modernism, colonialism and the post-colonial; the arts and English radicalism; and masculinity and male sexual identity. He is General Editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Fiction of E.M. Forster in eight volumes, and has also published extensively on the works of D.H. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling and John Addington Symonds.
Hannah Yip (Music) works on the cultural (including musical) and emotional lives of clergymen in early modern England, with a special interest in the effects of isolation and precarity upon their experiences of life. She is co-editor of Writing Early Modern Loneliness (Macmillan, forthcoming 2024).
Julene Abad Del Vecchio is currently the PDRA working on the final stages of a 4-year AHRC-funded project on Ancient Letter Collections (formerly based at the University of Manchester, now in Durham and Glasgow). As part of that project, she will be co-author of Ancient Letter Collections: A Critical Review (400 BCE-400 CE) and has worked alongside Antonia Sarri on a special issue focussed on the Aldine edition of the Greek Epistolographers, forthcoming in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. Julene is a specialist in Latin literature of the Flavian period, and has worked primarily on Statius; her monograph entitled ‘The Dark Side of Statius’ Achilleid: Epic Distorted’ is in preparation, and will be forthcoming with Oxford University Press. As of January 2024, she will take up a post as Lecturer in Classical Literature and Culture at Manchester.
Silvia Speriani is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manchester, working on a book on the role of visual codes in expressing and shaping social dynamics in Rome during the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE, part of which focusses on the letters of Pliny the Younger. Her approach merges theoretical frames such as multimodal discourse analysis and cognitive studies in order to evaluate how the visual and visualizing dynamics enacted by textual communication contribute to world-construction processes in epistolary and encomiastic texts. She is the author of a forthcoming monograph, entitled AJax. A Roman Myth, (expected publication 2024), where she focuses on the explicit and implicit present of Telamonian Ajax in Roman literature as a positive and negative heroic paradigm. She has also published on visual interactions and social gaze in Horace’s Epistles 1 (2018) and Pliny’s Panegyric (2019), as well as on Plautus (2023) and Petronius (forthcoming).
Roberta Mazza (CAHAE) works on Graeco-Roman material culture, inc. Byzantine Egypt, Christianity in the Roman empire, papyrology, provenance of artefacts and papyri on antiquities market.
The Centre could not have come into being without the hard work and dedication of a fantastic group of former postdocs and research students at the JRRI, who established the Lives and Afterlives of Letters network.
Naomi Billingsley (formerly JRRI; Art History) works on eighteenth century British art, especially literary and biblical illustration. Her research uses correspondence in a variety of ways, such as reconstructing the processes by which publishers and artists worked together, and for evidence of artists’ perspectives on their work. Her current research on the Macklin Bible draws on artists’ letters in various archive collections, including the William Artaud papers at the John Rylands Library.
Florence Impens (HRF English) works on contemporary British and Irish Poetry. Her Leverhulme Trust-funded research on poetry and translation in the United Kingdom after 1962 makes extensive use of correspondence between publishers, poets, and translators in the Elaine Feinstein Papers, and the archives of Carcanet Press and Anvil Press Poetry. It provides insight into the literary networks that have shaped the publishing landscape of poetry in translation in the last sixty years. She is also interested in poetic uses of archives, including correspondence, and, increasingly, in ‘creative letters’.
Katharina Keim (HRF Religions & Theology) works on the Jewish/non-Jewish relations from Antiquity to the present. Her correspondence-related research focusses on the letters exchanged between Moses Gaster (1856-1939) and the Samaritan community of Nablus in the early 20thcentury. The correspondence (in Samaritan Hebrew, Arabic, and German) spans 1904-1934 and provides critical insight into the provenance of the Rylands’ Gaster Samaritan Manuscript collection.
Alice Marples (HRF History) works on medical and natural historical cultures of information and exchange in Britain and the world, c.1650 and 1850. Her thesis focused on the huge correspondence collections of Hans Sloane (1660-1753), and she continues to work on early modern and eighteenth-century knowledge networks.
Oscar Seip (JRRI; Italian Studies) recently completed his PhD in Italian Studies, supported by the JRRI. His research focuses on the use of letters to reconstruct early modern intellectual communities and study the spread of ideas. In relation to this, he has given workshops and is developing best practices for the use of network analysis and visualisation in historical research. This is done in conjunction with research projects based in Oxford, London, and Manchester.