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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Andy Wood

“Working with a diverse range of Fellows made me think not just about the IAS theme - time - in ways that were very productive, but also provided me with the mental space to do some hard thinking about what universities are for, and about the place of research and intellectual exchange within the ideal university. ”

Professor Andy Wood, University of East Anglia

IAS Fellow at University College, Durham University (October - December 2012)

Andy Wood is currently Professor of Social History at the University of East Anglia, where he has been teaching since 1996. He has held lectureships at the University of Liverpool (Department of Economic and Social History) and at the University of East London (Department of Cultural Studies), as well as a Scouloudi Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research and a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at University College London. He has published three books: The 1549 rebellions and the making of early modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Riot, rebellion and popular politics in early modern England (Palgrave, 2002) and The politics of social conflict: the Peak Country, 1520-1770 (Cambridge University Press, 1999). He is currently completing his fourth book, to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013 as The memory of the people: custom and popular senses of the past in early modern England. This is based on 20 years' of archival work, some of it funded by major awards by the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His work has appeared in a number of collections of essays and in international journals including Past and Present; Journal of Social History; Historical Journal; Social History; Transactions of the Royal Historical Society; and International Review of Social History. He was educated at Marple Hall High School in Stockport; at the University of York; and at the University of Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

While at the IAS, Professor Wood will contribute to the annual theme of 'Time' in a number of ways. His current research project deals with popular senses of time and space in England, c.1570-1770. This links to a number of the sub-themes identified by the IAS, including 'Narrating Time'; 'Experiencing Time'; 'Reconstructing Time'; 'Time and the Present'; and 'Scaling Time'. Critically, Professor Wood will argue that senses of time need to be read in their spatial and social contexts. Preliminary work conducted by Wood suggests that early modern popular concepts of time changed in important respects. Ordinary people stopped dating time in relationship to liturgy and saints' days; time became more pragmatic, related to the agricultural seasons and to processes of exploitation (such as rent days); in urban communities, time became defined by the clock and by the market; and in industrializing areas, it came to be organized around the experience of waged labour. Professor Wood will spend some of his time as an IAS Fellow working in the rich Diocesan archives held in the Durham University Library Special Collections. These court papers illuminate all sorts of aspects of everyday life in the Diocese of Durham, including senses of time and space. The result of these archival searches will be a much fuller, richer and systematic study of changing senses of time in a region undergoing radical shifts in its religious culture, economic base and social structures. He looks forward to the possibilities for real intellectual insight to be garnered from working in the interdisciplinary environment of the IAS.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - 'Popular concepts of time and place in Tudor and Stuart England'

22nd October 2012, 20:00, Senate Room, University College, Professor Andy Wood

Professor Andy Wood will argue that popular senses of time in Tudor and Stuart England were complex and dynamic. He will begin by critically outlining the basic modernisation narrative which has tended to inform our sense of past time, and which has argued that senses of time were homogenous, unchanging and dictated by the seasons.

Wood suggests that this narrative, while problematic, should not be wholly dismissed. Ordinary people’s sense of time was indeed partially determined by the agricultural cycle. However, it was also subject to significant historical change in the period considered here. Firstly fundamental transformations in the economy – commercialisation, industrialisation, and urbanisation – had the effect of complicating the everyday meanings of time. Secondly, the slow ‘protestantization’ of the English people as a consequence of the reformations, transformed senses of calendrical time. What emerged by the end of the period were more multi-dimensional and complex ways of reading temporality than have hitherto been acknowledged.

Listen to the lecture in full.


Time in conversation with Prof Andy Wood

Time in conversation with Prof Andy Wood

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Professor Andy Wood Publications

Wood, A. (2013) Memory of the People: Custom and Popular Senses of the Past in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

IAS Insights Paper


This paper1 presents some early findings of ongoing archival investigation into popular conceptions of time in Tudor and Stuart England. It begins with a critical survey of some of the ways in which historians have understood time. Such accounts have emphasized the emptiness of peasant time, the employment of temporal registers as an irresistible instrument of domination and the significance of changing conceptions of time in the formation of capitalist modernity. The paper challenges such views, arguing from the archival evidence of ordinary people’s voices that popular senses of the past in Tudor and Stuart England were complex, multifaceted, and grafted into social relations, labour and distinct readings of the land. Most of all, it is argued that the localism of understandings of time gave them a peculiar richness and vitality. Although it is shown that elites did indeed attempt to employ temporal registers as modes of domination, what is most apparent from the evidence is the significance of popular resistance to such projects, together with the creativity and originality of popular conceptions of time.

Insights Paper