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05 April 2023

PhD History student announced as BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker

BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) reveal King’s History PhD student, Isabella Rosner as a 2023 New Generation Thinker.

Isabella Rosner

In special episode on BBC Radio 3 on 4 April, the ten 2023 New Generation Thinkers were announced, including King's Isabella Rosner, a PhD student in the Department of History. The scheme recognises the UK’s most promising arts and humanities early career researchers and is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and BBC Radio 3.

I'm hugely excited to have been chosen as a BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker this year and to be given the opportunity to share my work on historical needlework with the British public. There are so many stories to tell about stitch and those millennia of women and men who plied their needles for leisure and their livelihoods.

Isabella Rosner, PhD student at the Department of History

The New Generation Thinkers scheme has been proven to be career changing as each researcher will be given the opportunity to share their pioneering research by making programmes for BBC Radio 3 and will also be provided with unique access to training and support from both the AHRC and the BBC.

The ten New Generation Thinkers will bring new insights into diverse topics - Isabella is exploring the significance of a cat and mouse in an embroidery done by Mary Queen of Scots whilst in captivity. Her essay will focus on Quaker art and how Quaker stitching helps overturn ideas about the community having an introverted approach to the world which valued simplicity and plainness. Their work tells a different story about decoration and fancy needlework – for example, Hannah Downes, who studied at the Shacklewell Quaker girl’s school in Hackney around 1683, used high-quality linen and expensive silk and her stitching was highly ornate.

Isabella specialises in the study of needlework from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

She is currently finishing her thesis '"Women Professing Godliness with Good Works": Quaker Women's Art Before Ackworth and Westtown, circa 1650-1800'. It focuses on 17th-century needlework made in and around London and 18th-century wax and shellwork made in and around Philadelphia. Her supervisors are Professor Evelyn Welch and Professor Laura Gowing. Isabella is also the presenter of the Sew What? Podcast.

Other topics covered by the New Generation Thinkers include the history and future of how we heat our homes, reproductive rights in Ireland told through the story of Ann Lovett, a schoolgirl who died in 1984 while trying to give birth in secret and Viking attitudes to the human body, sex, death, and power.

Every year, BBC Radio 3 and AHRC accept hundreds of applicants for their nationwide search for the best new arts and humanities academics with ideas that will resonate with a wider audience.

These New Generation Thinkers represent some of the brightest early career researchers in the country.

Their research has the potential to redefine our understanding of an array of topics, from our history to the way we speak.