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Dr Liesbeth Corens

Junior Research Fellow

Jesus College

Cambridge CB58BL

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Research Interests

I am an early modern historian studying the intersection between religious, cultural and social history in a cross-border perspective. In my PhD I assessed the lay English Catholic expatriate experience in terms of a broad concept of 'confessional mobility', which encompasses a broad spectrum of mobility, rather than the traditional focus on exile and its implications of stasis. Questioning the category of ‘exile’ brings to light a more significant role of transnational connections for both home and host countries which is obliterated by a focus on stable and isolated exiled communities.

My current project is on the 'counter-archives' which English Catholics started to create in the later seventeenth century: they accumulated disparate sources of their recent past in an attempt to save theirs and their ancestors’ stories from oblivion. Historians have used the individual records in these collections as direct sources for the sixteenth century, but thereby lose the context of the commemorative culture of the seventeenth. I am mainly fascinated by the practices of compiling the collections: how these were part of a vibrant devotional life, how the collections helped them to make sense of their situation as a dispersed community (uniting through their collecting activities English Catholics scattered all over England and across the Channel), and how they deliberately talked to posterity.


  • Early Modern History

Other Publications

(available on my academia page:

‘Dislocation and Record Keeping: The Counter Archives of the Catholic Diaspora’, in Liesbeth Corens, Kate Peters, and Alexandra Walsham (eds.), The Social History of the Archive: Record Keeping in Early Modern Europe (Past & Present Supplement; 11, 2016).

‘Saints Beyond Borders: Relics and the Expatriate English Catholic Community’, in: J. Spohnholz and G. Waite (eds.), Exile and Religious Identity, 1500-1800 (London, 2014), 25-38.

‘Sermons, Sodalities, and Saints: the Role of Religious Houses for the English Expatriate Community’, Trajecta 21 (2012), 118-136.

‘Catholic Nuns and English Identities: English Protestant Travellers on the English Convents in the Low Countries, 1660-1730’, Recusant History 30 (2011), 441-459.