A remarkable new look at familiar historical themes
The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity, and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland
by Alexandra Walsham
Oxford University Press, $65 hb, 653 pp, 9780199243556
Australian universities have long taught early modern (c.1500–1750) English/British and European history, but with Alexandra Walsham’s recent appointment as the first female to occupy a Cambridge history chair, there are now (with Oxford’s Lyndal Roper) two Melbourne-trained early modernist Oxbridge professors. Banalities about the empire striking back are hard to resist. True, Walsham was born in Cornwall. But she emigrated to Australia as a child, and only returned to England on a postgraduate scholarship in 1990 after completing a Melbourne MA (published as Church Papists: Catholicism, Conformity and Confessional Polemic in Early Modern England, 1993) under my own teacher, Don Kennedy. Her multiple prize-winning Providence in Early Modern England (1999) grew out of a Cambridge PhD dissertation supervised by the now late and sadly lamented Patrick Collinson, whose engaging autobiographical History of a History Man (2011) includes a chapter on his own academic sojourn at Sydney from 1969 to 1976.