Holly Fletcher

PhD candidate in Early Modern History

I completed both my History BA (2015) and MPhil in Early Modern History (2017) at Clare College, Cambridge. In July 2020, I submitted my PhD thesis on the cultural significance of bodyweight and shape in early modern Germany. This research was funded by the Cambridge Trust. 

I am currently teaching at the University of Sussex where I convene the Special Subject 'Witches and Witch-Hunts'. 

My research explores cultural understandings of bodyweight and shape in Germany c. 1480-1620. Drawing together visual and material sources with literary texts, autobiographical documents and prescriptive literature, I explore how bodyweight was experienced and understood by contemporaries, as well as how such experiences were related to shifting notions of the 'fashionable' body in this period. It is commonly assumed that concern with bodyweight is a modern phenomenon, yet my research demonstrates that such concerns not only existed in sixteenth-century Germany, but were embedded in wider discussions regarding religion, gender, selfhood and society.

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

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.

‘Fatness and Fashion: Dressing the Body in Early Modern Germany’, Body and Food Histories Workshop, University of Cambridge. February 2020.

Luther and the Body’, German History Research Group, University of Cambridge. February 2020.

Experiencing Weight: Bodyweight and Shape in Self-Narrative Sources’, Early Modern World History Workshop, University of Cambridge. October 2019.

‘Co-Producing the Body: Bodyweight and Shape in the Letters of Two Early Modern Couples’, German History Society Annual Conference, King’s College, London. September 2019.

Matters of Weight: Reframing Luther’s Body’, Sixth Cambridge-Tübingen Workshop on the History of Religion in the Medieval and Early Modern World, University of Cambridge. September 2019.

‘“Belly Worshippers and Greed-Paunches”: Fatness and the Belly in the Lutheran Reformation’, at The Reformation of the Body, University of Cambridge. May 2019.



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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 32 (2020), pp. 341-372.