Katie Woodhouse-Skinner is a doctoral researcher working on representations of female adolescence in the mid-to-and upper echelons of English society period between 1660-1785. Her work compares accounts of female youth in medical texts, conduct literature, and adolescent ego-documents from this period, considering differences between representations of the socio-cultural construct of female adolescence and recorded adolescent experience. Her research aims to showcase a body of adolescent writers aged between fourteen and twenty-three that have often been overlooked in social, intellectual, and literary histories of this period, shedding light on an important but understudied aspect of the early female life cycle.
Katie is an active member of Loughborough University’s research community. She is a member of the University’s Early Modern Research Group, and has delivered papers for their workshop series on ‘The Body on Display in Early Modern Society’. For the last two years she had been part of the Department’s ‘Gendered Lives’ Research Group and was on the organising committee for the ‘Feminist Methodologies’ Conference (April 2019). In recognition for her work in running the 'Loughborough University PhD Writing Gym' - a student-led initiative that provides doctoral researchers with weekly training session on managing academic writing - Katie has also twice been nominated for the 'Outstanding Contribution to the Postgraduate Community Award' offered by the Doctoral College. Outside of this, she is also a member of the Children's History Society, Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837, and BSECS.
Katie joined Loughborough University in October 2018 on a fully-funded research studentship in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, and is on track for completion of her doctorate by September 2021. She has delivered teaching on Dr Paul Jenner's ‘Theory that Matters: Critiquing Inequalities’ Module.
Before this, Katie undertook an MA in Early Modern History at the University of Birmingham, supported by the University’s College of Arts and Law Scholarship. Katie completed her Master’s degree in August 2018, gaining a Distinction. Katie also graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham in 2017, winning the Richard Shackleton Prize for her BA Dissertation.
PhD Topic/Title: Female Adolescence in Young Women’s’ Writing and Socio-Medical Discourse in England Between 1660-1785
Katie's research offers a literary, socio-cultural history of female adolescence in England between 1660-1785, with a focus on how psychological, physiological, and emotional development in adolescence was represented in medical texts, conduct literature, and adolescent writing.
The growing field of male midwifery and the rise of the novel contributed to an increased typification of adolescence for girls in the mid to upper classes between 1660-1785. Katie's work analyses the emerging figure of the 'female adolescent' in this medical and didactic literature and compares it with how young women documented adolescence in diaries, letters, and spiritual memorandum from this period. By considering how adolescents engaged with prevailing expectations of gendered maturation in their writing, Katie's work posits the significance of young people's contributions to contemporary debates about the changing place of women in society during this period.
One of the primary goals of Katie's research is to highlight previously understudied and underrepresented adolescent writers from this period. Her research contends that adolescent writing offers the historian a new prism, a new frame of reference, in which to view social change and gendered maturation in the middling and upper echelons of English society between 1660-1785. Not simply a mere addition to that which exists already in scholarship, adolescent writings provide an opportunity to reimagine the interaction between age and epistolary cultures, women’s intellectual landscapes, and the role of young women in the ‘polite society’ of the eighteenth century. Consequently, at its core, Katie's research sets out to provide an examination of the agency and autonomy that girls might express during adolescence, given patriarchal and hierarchical expectations of female development. Her thesis will show that far from being passive receptacles of information derived from medical and conduct literature, girls were active interpreters and actors in shaping their inner lives as well as their social, intellectual, and religious worlds.
To this end, Katie's work adds to an emerging field of youth studies that analyses the history of female adolescence and youth as a means of engaging with early modern society.
- Katie Woodhouse, ‘James Marten: The History of Childhood: A Very Short Introduction (Review)’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 53:3 (2020), pp. 518-20.
- Katie Woodhouse, 'Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, All Things Georgian: Tales from the Long Eighteenth Century (Review)', Women's Studies Group 1558-1837 Blog, 24 July 2019. <https://womensstudiesgroup.org/2019/07/24/joanne-major-and-sarah-murden-all-things-georgian-tales-from-the-long-eighteenth-century/>
- ‘I shall remember from taking the first solemn step towards matrimonie’: The Diary of Betty Fothergill and Adolescent Preparation for Marriage, Life Cycles Seminar Series, Institute of Historical Research, 27 October 2020. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4D6toPMJcs>
- “Madam Smith says, what shou’d the Captain do with such a wife as me who can only sit with a book in her hand”, Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837, The Foundling Museum, 18 January 2020.
- 'Rebels with a Cause: Conversion and ‘Meaningful’ Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century Methodist Narratives of Female Adolescence’, Rebels Without a Cause? Accessing and Exploring Adolescents/Adolescence in the Past, 12th Annual Conference for The Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past, University of Sheffield, 30 October – 1 November 2019. This paper won the ‘Best PGR and ECR Podium Presentation’ for the Conference and a year’s subscription to the Antiquity Journal.
- ‘’Youth’s short summer’: Beauty and Danger During Female Adolescence in Eighteenth-Century Britain’ given at the ‘Pretty Ugly: Early Modern Beauty 1400-1800’ Conference in January 2019, at the Wellcome Institute.
- ‘The Adolescent Body in Eighteenth-Century English Midwifery Texts’ in the ‘Medicine and the Body in Early Modern Society’ Workshop, 14 February 2019, as part of the Series run by the Early Modern Research Group, Loughborough University.
- Co-organiser of the ‘Feminist Methodologies’ Conference, 2nd & 3rd April 2019, Loughborough. University.
- Co-organiser of ‘The Body on Display in Early Modern Society’ Workshop Series run by the Early Modern Research Group, from February to May 2019, Loughborough University.
- Co-organiser for the ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Beast Within, the Beast Without, and the Beast Beyond in the Early Modern Period 1400-1800’, Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies Postgraduate Conference, 3rd July 2018, The University of Birmingham.