About & Team

Statement of Purpose

This project will study the interrelated role played by production and reception in early modern English conduct literature (1500-1800), combining an approach from intellectual history with the methodologies of book history. The team will create an open-access database of all courtesy and conduct books published in England between 1500 and 1800, recording metadata concerning translation, publishing, marketing, and ownership. A primary aim of the project is to highlight how material and cultural aspects of texts helped to shape the circulation of cultural ideas within Europe.

Manners and norms of good conduct, once seen as trivial aspects of social life, are now regarded by cultural historians as having had a profound impact on modern identity. While the codification of manners is to be found in all cultures and historical periods, the genre of conduct literature was particularly influential in Europe between the 16th and 18th centuries. The Renaissance culture of civility originated in Italy; by 1600, France had become the leading cultural model for English society in this period. Our project will investigate the genre from a distinctively English perspective, but as embedded within a wider European context. We will be charting the dissemination of ideas about social conduct within Europe by looking at the way texts were translated and adapted for the English market, the way they were produced for specific consumers, and the way they were promoted and sold. The open-access, relational database will provide a valuable resource for further scholarship.

The project draws on insights from intellectual history and from current research in the history of the book to shed fresh light on the history of manners and the interplay of gender and genre. It applies the methodology of digital humanities and analytical bibliography in order to improve understanding of the ways in which conduct literature was marketed between 1500 and 1800.


Meet the scholars, researchers and experts working on the Civility project.

Prof. Indira Ghose, Principal Investigator

Professor Indira Ghose is Chair of Early Modern English Literature at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Her interests lie in Renaissance literature, intellectual history, and cultural history. In 2011-18 she was Partner Investigator at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100-1800). In 2019 the Swiss National Science Foundation awarded her a research grant of over a three-quarter million Swiss francs for a four-year project on "Civility, Cultural Exchange, and Conduct Literature in Early Modern England, 1500-1700".

Indira Ghose's monographs are Women Travellers in Colonial India (Oxford University Press, 1998), Shakespeare and Laughter: A Cultural History (Manchester University Press, 2008), and Much Ado About Nothing: Language and Writing (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2018). A book on jokes in Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Jest, is due to appear with Routledge in 2022. She is currently working on a book on civility and the early modern theatre.

Full publication details are givenhere.


Prof. Emma Depledge, Co-Investigator

Dr. Emma Depledge (PhD Geneva) is Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Neuchâtel. Specialising in seventeenth and eighteenth-century British literature, her research interests include authorship studies, book and theatre history, and royalist writing.

Shakespeare's Rise to Cultural Prominence: Print, Politics and Alteration, 1642-1700 was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. Dr. Depledge is currently writing a book on the relationship between mock-heroic poetry and the London book trade from 1660-1740.

For the year 2020-21 Dr. Depledge has been awarded a two-month W. M. Keck Foundation Fellowship to work at the Huntington Library, San Marino, and a one-month fellowship to work at the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas, supported by the Carl H. Pforzheimer Endowment. She will conduct research for a project entitled "Bibliographical Puzzles: A Descriptive Bibliography of Quarto Editions of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar."



Staff profile @ UniNe

Dr. Erzsi Kukorelly, Senior Researcher

Dr. Erzsi (Elizabeth) Kukorelly (PhD Geneva) is chargée d’enseignement at the University of Geneva. Dr. Kukorelly's research interests include the early English novel, early eighteenth-century cultural studies (including gender, legal and conduct concerns), and interdisciplinary approaches to literary studies. 

Dr. Kukorelly's current research looks at eighteenth-century conduct books for young women, in particular from the perspective of reader reception. 


Staff profile @ UniGe

Emma Rayner, Doctoral Researcher

Emma Rayner is a doctoral student at the University of Fribourg. She holds an MA in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Emma's research interests include seventeenth-century women's writing, gender studies, and the history of emotions. She has recently published an article on Hester Pulter and John Webster in Studies in English Literature, and has an entry forthcoming in the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Early Modern Women's Writing.



Alrick Deillon, IT Expert

Alrick Deillon is an IT engineer from the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg. He has been working at the E-learning Center of the University of Fribourg since 2015. Alrick specialises in development of databases and other tools for research and teaching as well as consulting. He is currently involved in two large research projects: the Civility project, funded by the SNSF, and Locus Ludi project, funded by the ERC.

Alrick is helping the team of the Civility project to create an open-access database of all courtesy and conduct books published in England between 1500 and 1800, allowing members of the team to investigate the patterns of translation, publication, marketing, and commercial reception of English courtesy and conduct books, and hopefully providing a valuable research tool for further scholarship in this field.