Research Stream

Robin Macdonald

Robin Macdonald is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Shaping the Modern Program. She is working on the Emotions in Early Modern Colonial Encounters project under the direction of Jacqueline Van Gent at The University of Western Australia. Robin completed her PhD in History at the University of York (UK) with a thesis titled, ‘Inhabiting New France: Bodies, Environment and the Sacred, c.1632-c.1700’. She also holds a BA (Hons) in French and History and a MA in Early Modern History from The University of Manchester (UK).

Robin’s doctoral work examined entanglements of bodies, environments and religious practices in seventeenth-century New France. Her thesis analysed religious encounters between French missionaries and Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples in a wide variety of spaces, from the stormy Ocean Sea, to mission settlements, dream spaces, and spaces of correspondence. Drawing on spatial theory and recent anthropology, notably the work of Tim Ingold, she argued that while missionary religious practices shaped environment, environment could also shape practices.

Robin’s current research focuses on laughter in colonial encounters in eastern North America. Drawing on a broad variety of French and English-language source material, she is investigating the roles and meanings of laughter in colonial encounters, both as an expression of feelings and as a tool for change. How, for instance, was laughter used to subvert colonial authorities? In what ways could it demonstrate concord? What can laughter tell historians about cultural differences? Robin is also interested in the lexical strategies used by seventeenth-century people to express humour in texts and the methodological challenges faced by scholars in identifying early modern humour.



Laughter and Affect in Seventeenth-Century North America


Macdonald, R. ‘Sensing Sacred Missives: Birch Bark Letters from Seventeenth-Century Missionaries in New France’. In Sensing the Sacred: Religion and the Senses in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture, edited by Robin Macdonald, Emilie K. M. Murphy and Elizabeth L. Swann. (Routledge, forthcoming 2018).

Macdonald, R.,  E. K. M. Murphy and E. L. Swann, ‘Introduction’. In Sensing the Sacred: Religion and the Senses in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture. (Routledge, forthcoming 2018).