Jane Ohlmeyer wins prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant
March 30, 2023 - Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Erasmus Smith's Professor of Modern History (1792) in the School of Histories and Humanities, has won a highly prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grant valued at €2.5m.
Advanced Grants are the most competitive of the ERC awards, supporting exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions. This major award is one of only 3 Advanced Grants made to Irish researchers nationally under the 2022 call and the only award in the Arts and Humanities. It is the only advanced grant awarded to Trinity College under the 2022 call.
Funded under the panel SH6 (The Study of the Human Past), this five-year project will be based at the Trinity Long Room Hub and will recover the lived experiences of women in early modern Ireland. The project is entitled “VOICES: Life and Death, War and Peace, c.1550-c.1700:
Voices of Women in Early Modern Ireland”.
VOICES will investigate two key questions: what roles did women play in a society undergoing profound economic, political, and cultural transformation? And, what were their experiences of recurring social upheaval, bloody civil war and extreme trauma, especially sexual violence, and how have these been politicised?
Commenting on the award, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer said:
“It is an incredible honour to receive this prestigious ERC award for my VOICES project. This funding will help to recover the lived experiences of ordinary women from Early Modern Ireland and offer new narratives that have been hidden until now. I’m particularly excited to unearth these untold stories and move away from a predominantly elitist perspective of history. I’m also energised by the opportunity to employ innovative technologies for historical analysis which will chart a new path for historical research using interdisciplinary methods.”
I want to thank everyone who has helped with this process and all my colleagues, family and friends who have supported me through the application stage. I also want to acknowledge my appreciation to the ERC council itself for its commitment to funding excellent curiosity led research in all disciplines including the arts and humanities.”
This funding will help to recover the lived experiences of ordinary women from Early Modern Ireland and offer new narratives that have been hidden until now.Professor Jane Ohlmeyer
Exploiting previously inaccessible historical data, now available digitally, the project will employ innovative technologies to transform the data into knowledge that can be interrogated and visualised. In doing so it will work closely with senior staff and researchers based at ADAPT, the world leading SFI Research Centre for AI-Driven Digital Content Technology headquartered at TCD.
National funding has also played an enabling role in the digitisation of previously inaccessible historical data that this project will now draw on to conduct its research. Funding provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and the Irish Research Council in funding projects like the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland has been important for unlocking these materials.
This major achievement comes close on the heels of Professor Ohlmeyer’s recently awarded 2023 Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal in the Humanities, which is given to individuals who have made a demonstrable and internationally recognised outstanding scholarly contribution in their fields.
The VOICES project typifies the cutting-edge work being led by Arts & Humanities researchers at Trinity.Provost Linda Doyle
At national and European level, Professor Ohlmeyer, a former director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, has been a pioneer for inter-disciplinary methods in research (as a leading PI on The 1641 Depositions Project) but also in her role as co-PI for Human+ and as PI for Shape-ID (Shaping Interdisciplinary Practices in Europe) with many EU research bodies now looking to see how they can adopt its toolkit.
Congratulating Professor Ohlmeyer, Dr Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity said:
“This ERC Advanced Grant is a fitting recognition of Jane’s outstanding and innovative approach to her field of research.
The VOICES project typifies the cutting-edge work being led by Arts & Humanities researchers at Trinity. It seeks to interrogate a rich historical record held in Trinity’s Manuscripts & Archives collection through the creative use of technology shedding new light on an important, but until now, overlooked part of our history.”
The VOICES project will commence in September 2023. The team Professor Ohlmeyer will recruit will join over 200 PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, research assistants, lab managers, technicians and other team members funded through ERC projects working at Trinity.
Professor Ohlmeyer’s ERC award brings the total funding secured by Trinity researchers under the 2022 ERC funding calendar to €9m, joining four ERC Starting Grant awardees, two ERC Consolidator Grant awardees, and three ERC Proof of Concept Awardees. Since the inception of the ERC programme, over 50 ERC Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy grants have been won by Trinity researchers across all three Faculties and 18 Schools. This is the 2nd ERC advanced award for Trinity in the SH6 (Study of the Human Past) panel.
Professor Sinead Ryan, Trinity’s Dean of Research, said:
“I am very pleased to congratulate Jane on receiving this well-deserved ERC Advanced Grant Award. VOICES is an innovative project that harnesses Jane’s skills as a historian together with new technologies to shed light on untold stories of family, memory, and trauma.
It is particularly significant that a project so strongly focussed on Irish history, specifically the experiences of women in early modern Ireland, has been funded at an international level. This demonstrates the potential of projects like this to help develop better understanding of gender relations and violence, and could lead to new insights in other fields of historical research as well as for society today.”
More about Professor Ohlmeyer’s VOICES project:
VOICES: Life and Death, War and Peace, c.1550-c.1700: Voices of Women in Early Modern Ireland
Ordinary women are not absent from early modern history. Instead, they have been hiding in plain sight. VOICES will recover their lived experiences and offer a new narrative that answers two ambitious questions. First: what roles did women play in a society undergoing profound economic, political, and cultural transformation? Second: what were their experiences of recurring social upheaval, bloody civil war and extreme trauma, especially sexual violence, and how have these been politicised?
The overarching hypothesis contends that non-elite early modern women used periods of intense warfare, when all cultural norms were suspended, to negotiate their role and in some instances to improve their position. In other words, warfare exposed the inner workings of a society and made visible women who were previously hidden. This hypothesis will be interrogated through four case studies that focus on female agency, women’s roles in the household, their labour, their landholding, their networks, and their lived experiences of war.
Focusing on Ireland and non-elite women VOICES’s novel approach derives in large part from the interrogation of a ‘digital windfall’ of early modern historical data – cartographic, qualitative, and quantitative – which was previously inaccessible. It is unprecedented in its scale and the level of detail it offers about the lived experiences of non-elite women during times of peace and of war. The methodology ¬– based on innovative technologies for historical analysis – has the potential to be replicated in other time periods and locations. In short, VOICES will allow us, using the life and death experiences of women in early modern Ireland, to chart pathways for historical research that are currently unachievable.
About the ERC:
The ERC, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. It funds creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based across Europe.
In the Social Sciences and Humanities, the ERC Advanced Grants panel structure is divided as follows:
- SH1 Individuals, Markets and Organisations
- SH2 Institutions, Governance and Legal Systems
- SH3 The Social World and its Diversity
- SH4 The Human Mind and its Complexity
- SH5 Cultures and Cultural Production
- SH6 The Study of the Human Past
- SH7 Human Mobility, Environment, and Space
For a full list of the 2023 selected researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities: click here.
Aoife King, Communications Officer | Trinity Long Room Hub | email@example.com | 01 896 3895