Research Stream

Robin Macdonald

Robin Macdonald is an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia (UWA). In early 2018, she completed a two-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Shaping the Modern Program of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, working on the Emotions in Early Modern Colonial Encounters project under the direction of Jacqueline Van Gent at UWA. 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.

Contact

robin.macdonald@uwa.edu.au

Research

Laughter and Affect in Seventeenth-Century North America

Publications 

Macdonald, R. ‘Crafting Quebec’s Seventeenth-Century Past: A Birch Bark Letter by Twentieth-Century Hospitalières’. Exemplaria, special issue, 'Feeling (for) the Medieval and Early Modern' 30.3 (2018): 223–40. 

Macdonald, R. ‘Emotions and Global Mission Histories’. In Routledge Companion to Emotions in Europe: 1100-1700, edited by S. Broomhall and A. Lynch. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2018.

Macdonald, R., E. K. M. Murphy and E. L. Swann, eds. Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. London: Routledge, 2018. ISBN: 9781472454669

Macdonald, R. ‘Sensing Sacred Missives: Birch Bark Letters from Seventeenth-Century Missionaries in New France’. In Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, edited by Robin Macdonald, Emilie K. M. Murphy and Elizabeth L. Swann, pp. 158–79. London: Routledge, 2018.

Macdonald, R., E. K. M. Murphy and E. L. Swann. ‘Introduction: Sensing the Sacred’. In Sensing the Sacred in Medieval and Early Modern Culture, edited by Robin Macdonald, Emilie K. M. Murphy and Elizabeth L. Swann, pp. 1–15. London: Routledge, 2018.

Selected Presentations

Macdonald, R. ‘The Charlevoix Earthquake (1663): Perceptions of Religious Difference’, 'Saints and Science' workshop, University of York (UK), 11–12 July 2018, forthcoming.

Macdonald, R. ‘Funny Things? Curious Objects in New France’, Social History Society conference, Keele University, UK, 11–13 June 2018, forthcoming.

Macdonald, R. Symposium Paper: ‘Fear and Trembling: The Charlevoix Earthquake of 1663 and Perceptions of Cultural Difference in France and New France’, ‘Holy Affections and Religious Entanglements in Early Modern Europe: Contacts, Polemics and Representations’ symposium, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, 12‒13 March 2018.

Macdonald, R. Conference Paper: ‘“He Wished Himself to Be the Bearer of the Letter”: Iroquoian and Algonquian Letter Bearers in Seventeenth-Century New France’, Inaugural Conference of the Society for the History of Emotions, ‘Emotions of Cultures/Cultures of Emotions: Comparative Perspectives’, UWA, 11–13 December 2017.

Macdonald, R. Short Workshop Presentation: ‘Subjective Emotions in Global Emotions History’, CHE Methods Collaboratory, The University of Melbourne, 30 November – 1 December 2017.

Macdonald, R. Conference Paper: ‘“Bound in Leather, Rather Than Parchment, to Last Longer”: Nuns as Discerning Readers in Seventeenth-Century Quebec’, BSANZ (Bibliographic Society of Australia and New Zealand) conference ‘Collecting the Colonies: Empires and Networks in the History of the Book’, Hobart, Tasmania, 22–24 November 2017.

Macdonald, R. Conference Paper: ‘Intimacy and Distance: Letter Writers and Letter Bearers in the Seventeenth-Century French Atlantic World’, ‘Powerful Emotions/Emotions and Power 400‒1850’ conference, University of York, UK, 28‒29 June 2017.

Macdonald, R. Conference Panel Paper: ‘Feeling Time and Place: Missionary Dreams in New France’, 11th Biennial Conference of the Australian & New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (ANZAMEMS) ‘Mobility and Exchange’, Wellington, NZ, 7‒10 February 2017.

Van Gent, J., R. Macdonald, S. Broomhall, S. Meurer and A. Wattel. ‘Emotional Histories: The Dutch in the Indian Ocean’ audio guide, for the ‘Travellers and Traders in the Indian Ocean World’ exhibition, curated by C. Souter  and J. D. Hill. WA Maritime Museum (in conjunction with the British Museum), Fremantle, 31 October 2016– 23 April 2017.

Macdonald, R. Symposium Presentation: ‘Feeling and Shaping Quebec’s Seventeenth-Century Past: a Birch Bark Letter Written by Twentieth-Century Hospitalières’, ‘Feeling (for) the Premodern’ Meanings Program Collaboratory, UWA, 2‒3 September 2016.

Macdonald, R. Invited Case Study Presentation: ‘Case study: A Mohawk Man Disrupts a Catholic Mass with Laughter’, Humours of the Past Network event,  University of Aberdeen, UK, 14–15 July 2016.

Macdonald, R. Conference Presentation: ‘Laughter and Affect in Seventeenth-Century North American Colonial Encounters’, ‘Emotions: Movement, Cultural Contact and Exchange, 1100‒1800’ conference, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 30 June–2 July 2016.

Macdonald, R. Symposium Presentation: ‘Experiencing Shipboard Catholicism on Transatlantic Voyages to New France’, ‘Politics of Conversion II’ symposium, Early Modern Conversions Network McGill University, Canada, 6–7 June 2016.

Macdonald, R. Symposium Presentation: ‘Feeling Objects? Clocks and Spirit in Seventeenth-Century New France’, ‘Emotions, Materiality and Transformations in the Colonial Contact Zone’ collaboratory,  Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, UWA, 7–8 March 2016.

Van Gent, J., R. Macdonald, S. Broomhall, S. Meurer and A. Wattel. ‘Emotional Histories: The Dutch in the Indian Ocean’ audio guide, for the ‘Travellers and Traders in the Indian Ocean World’ exhibition, curated by C. Souter  and J. D. Hill. WA Maritime Museum (in conjunction with the British Museum), Fremantle, 31 October 2016– 23 April 2017.

Conferences Organised

2017. Co-convenor, 'Emotions of Cultures/Cultures of Emotions – Comparative Perspectives', Inaugural Conference of the Society for the History of Emotions, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 11‒13 December 2017.