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The John Rylands Research Institute

Good grief: Historical perspectives on the regulation of mourning

Naomi Baker (English, American Studies and Creative Writing)

Letter from Marmaduke Gwynne to Charles Wesley, taken from the Methodist archive
Letter from Marmaduke Gwynne to Charles Wesley, taken from the Methodist archive

Naomi’s project uses the extensive Methodist archive located in the John Rylands Library to explore the notion of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ grief from a historical perspective.

The Methodist archive offers an unparalleled opportunity to understand how grief was experienced and regulated within a specific early modern community. The archives contain conversion accounts, letters and sermons dating to the earliest years of Methodism.

Through her project, Naomi is seeking answers to the following questions:

  • What can the Methodist archives reveal about the ways in which early Methodists approached grief, both in relation to their own experiences and in the form of advice to others within their community? 

  • In what ways was grief evaluated as healthy or unhealthy by early Methodists, in both autobiographical and didactic contexts? 

  • What forms of consolation were deployed within this community, and to what extent did these forms of consolation place constraints around the experience and expression of grief? 


This project is funded by a JRRI pilot grant and runs from September 2018 – January 2019