‘“One may truely say she breathed out her soule:” Liminal Women and Spiritual Singing at Exiled English Convents, 1640-1700’

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As part of ongoing doctoral research, this paper will interrogate how early modern English nuns in exile understood their singing voices as tools for contacting the Divine, swaying religious affectation, and treating or coping with sickness. It will offer some suggestions as to how said women understood their individual relationships to singing, conversion, and Divine matrimony relative to their relationships as a part of a corporate body. It will discuss how these relationships developed in the wake of crises such as the English Civil War and the Great Plague of 1665/1666. In discussing these issues, this paper will also provide new archival evidence and commentary on pieces of life writing from exiled English convents in order to highlight previously unremarked upon connections between professional music circles in Restoration-era London and English Benedictine convents in Dunkirk and Paris. It will use this evidence to assess how and why women from non-Catholic, non-aristocratic backgrounds used their musical skills to enter convents abroad, and how nuns from these backgrounds - as opposed to nuns from aristocratic Catholic families - might have engaged with the aforementioned issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 12 Jul 2022
EventCatholic Record Society 64th Annual Conference - Bar Convent, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jul 202213 Jul 2022


ConferenceCatholic Record Society 64th Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • baroque
  • early music
  • life-writing
  • Catholicism
  • convents
  • history of religions
  • soundscape
  • Citizenship
  • early modern

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