School of the Arts, English and Drama

Postgraduate research

Jenna Townend

Photo of  Jenna Townend

PhD student

Jenna graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in English Literature from Loughborough in 2013. After graduating, she immediately embarked on a MA in English, funded by a generous scholarship from Santander bank, where she pursued her interest in, and enthusiasm for, early-modern literature. Jenna completed her Masters degree in September 2014, gaining a Distinction.

In October 2014, Jenna took up her offer of a fully-funded research studentship in the Department of English and Drama. Her research examines the network of imitators connected to the seventeenth-century devotional poet, George Herbert. Her doctoral work aims to recover the extent of Herbert's seventeenth-century imitators, to examine the reasons for and methods of their imitations, and to position them in relation to their religious, political, and cultural contexts.

In the Department, Jenna is a member of the Early Modern Research Group, the Gendered Lives Research Group, and the Digital Humanities Research Group. She is also a member of the George Herbert Society, the International John Bunyan Society, and the Society for Renaissance Studies. 

Jenna's research centres on the network of imitators surrounding the seventeenth-century devotional poet, George Herbert, and his single volume of poetry, The Temple (1633). Jenna’s thesis recovers the full extent of Herbert’s seventeenth-century imitators, charts the reasons for and methods of their imitations, and analyses them in relation to their political, religious, and cultural contexts. As well as conventional research methods of textual analysis and manuscript and archival work, Jenna’s research also involves the use of digital methodologies, including quantitative network analysis.

Jenna’s thesis therefore has a wider interest in the cultural place of religious thinking and its ontological role. It also addresses Loughborough University’s current research challenge of ‘Communication, Culture, and Citizenship’, with a focus on creative methods of communication, since it analyses the poetic construction of forms of cultural participation and experience.

In April 2016, Jenna was awarded the University of North Carolina at Greensboro University Libraries Research Grant for 2016-17 ($1750), funding research in the UNCG Special Collections holdings of George Herbert materials and the Amy Marie Charles Papers. Most recently, she has also been selected as a collaborator on the ‘Intertextual Networks’ project led by the Women Writers Project at Northeastern University. Jenna’s project is titled ‘Mapping influence in early-modern women’s devotional poetry: the case of An Collins’s Divine Songs and Meditations (1653)’, and the abstract is available here:

Dr Catie Gill, Lecturer in English, and Dr Carol Bolton, Programme Director English


‘Quantitative and qualitative approaches to early-modern networks: The case of George Herbert (1593-1633) and his imitators’, Literature Compass (2016)

‘It was not an ordinary speech’: (in)visible voices in the prophecies of Anna Trapnel’s Poetical Addresses or Discourses (c. 1659), Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language, 6 (2014), 12-20



‘“Catching the sense at two removes”: An imitative cluster in the devotional poetry of George Herbert and Mary Webber’, ‘Literary Windows: Imitative Series and Clusters in Literature’, University of Oxford (25 September 2017)

‘Imitation and a poetics of Anglican Survivalism: George Herbert’s poems in the English Civil Wars and Interregnum’, ‘George Herbert in Paris’, George Herbert Society triennial conference, Université Sorbonne (18-21 May 2017)

‘“Or something like it, for I han’t the Book by me”: Misquotation, Misattribution, and the Reception of George Herbert’s The Temple (1633)’, ‘Reception, Reputation, and Circulation’, National University of Ireland, Galway (22-25 March 2017)

‘From word to image, and back again: Using quantitative network analysis to understand George Herbert and his seventeenth-century imitators’, Society for Renaissance Studies biennial conference, University of Glasgow, Glasgow (18-20 July 2016)

‘“How much more fit is Herbert’s Temple to be set to the Lute”: George Herbert and his Dissenting Imitators’, ‘Voicing Dissent in the Long Reformation’, International John Bunyan Society triennial conference, Aix-en-Provence (6-9 July 2016)

‘The network of George Herbert’s imitators: A quantitative approach’, Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies Congress and Canadian Society for Digital Humanities Congress, Calgary, Alberta (28 May – 30 May 2016; 30 May – 1 June 2016)

 ‘Bibliographical approaches to spiritual authority in Anna Trapnel’s Poetical Addresses or Discourses (c. 1659)’, Book History Research Network conference, Loughborough University (4 December 2015)

‘How postgraduates can help undergraduates to develop research projects’, International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning annual conference, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia (27-30 October 2015)

‘Passing it on: how postgraduates can help undergraduates plan their final year dissertations’, ‘Teaching History in Higher Education’, Institute of Historical Research, London (8-9 September 2015)

‘O you will find it very good | To hearken to this voice’ : Anna Trapnel’s self-representation and the construction of authority in Poetical Addresses or Discourses’, ‘Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century’, University of Bedfordshire (10 April 2015)

‘It was not an ordinary speech’: The transgressive female prophet in Anna Trapnel’s Poetical Addresses or Discourses (1657-58), ‘Transitions and Transgressions’, Loughborough University (11 September 2014)

‘Outward fasting is inward feasting’: Fasting in the sufferings narratives of Quaker women, ‘Early-Modern Women, Religion, and the Body’, Loughborough University (22-23 July 2014)

‘Being in the visions of God’: negotiating the visible and invisible female prophet in Anna Trapnel’s Folio Songs (1657-58), ‘Seen and Unseen: (De)constructing Medieval and Early- Modern Perceptions’, EMREM Symposium, University of Birmingham (23 May 2014)