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Holly Fletcher

Holly Fletcher
Murray Edwards College
Huntingdon Road

Cambridge CB3 0DF


I completed both my History BA (2015) and MPhil in Early Modern History (2017) at Clare College, Cambridge. My MPhil dissertation examined a range of statuettes of an elderly woman from sixteenth-century Germany, which I used to explore the ways in which early modern men gave significance to ageing and how this could then be expressed and managed through the medium of art.

I am now a PhD candidate, funded by the Cambridge Trust, and am studying understandings of bodyweight and shape in early modern Germany.  

Research Interests

My research traces the changing 'fashionable body' in sixteenth-century Germany, as well as identifying contradictions in this narrative, for instance where bodyweight was made to matter in specific ways and in particular settings, as part of cultural, embodied arguments about values and identities. I am particularly interested in examining and exploring such contradiction, nuance and ambivalence in historical sources.

The sources I use are wide-ranging: my PhD draws together visual and material sources with early modern German literary texts, as well as autobiographical documents and prescriptive works from both religious and secular authorities.

Ultimately, my research aims to contribute to our understanding of bodily experience in early modern Europe, highlighting the ways in which people experienced and understood their bodies and how this developed both across the life-course and with the influence of cultural change. 

My research interests are broadly: the history of the body, gender history, material culture and the history of emotions.

Research Supervision

I am supervised by Professor Ulinka Rublack.


Part I: Paper 16 - European History, 1450-1760.

Part II: Paper D - Uses of the Visual in Early Modern Germany, c. 1450-1550.

Part II: Paper 14 - Material Culture in the Early Modern World.

Other Professional Activities

I organised the conference 'The Reformation of the Body', which took place on 14 May 2019 at the Faculty of History, Cambridge. See here for a brief report of the day.


  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

Holly Fletcher, '"Belly-Worshippers and Greed-Paunches": Fatness and the Belly in the Lutheran Reformation', German History (forthcoming, 2021).

Holly Fletcher, 'Age, Gender and the Body in the Bronze and Pearwood Statuettes of 1520s' Germany', Gender and History (July 2020).