Elise Watson




Contact Details
Email: egw2@st-andrews.ac.uk

Thesis Title: Hidden in Plain Sight: Printing for the Catholic Community in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic
Supervisor: Professor Andrew Pettegree



My research interests lie at the intersection of book history and ecclesiastical history. I am broadly interested in the interactions between print and religious experience, and the impact of the interconfessional book trade on practical questions of toleration and co-existence in the post-Reformation landscape. This is complemented by a fascination with minority Catholicism in the early modern period, and the contribution of books as textual and material objects towards the construction of post-Tridentine Baroque Catholic identity.

My thesis investigates the trade of Catholic books in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, examining the ways in which the production, distribution, and censorship of these confessional texts, as well as their import from abroad, impacted the lives of the large minority Catholic population and the work of ecclesiastical missionary organisationsNetworks of printers and booksellers across the Northern and Southern Netherlands made Catholic books a profitable sector of the prosperous Dutch book trade, flouting anti-Catholic legislation to make a wide body of confessional literature accessible to clergy and laity alike. Through an examination of publishing networks, individual collections, and censorship practices, I intend to demonstrate the importance of Catholic print both to the survival of minority religious communities and the flourishing book industry in the Dutch Republic.

Other Responsibilities

Assistant Editor, Book History Online (Brill Online Bibliographies)

Postgraduate Associate, Universal Short Title Catalogue

Grants and Awards

The Andrew Craig and Mark Bunyan Scholarship in Early Modern History, University of St Andrews (2017-2018)

de Jager Prize, Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford (Hilary Term 2016)


'Networks of Devotion: Auction Catalogues and the Catholic Book Trade in Amsterdam, 1650-1700' in: Graeme Kemp, Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen (eds.), Book Trade Catalogues in Early Modern Europe. Forthcoming from Brill in 2019.

'A Prohibited Pocket-Book: Christophe Plantin’s 1564 Genevan Psalter' Preserving the World's Rarest Books, 23 January 2019.

'Performative Polemics: Reformation Book Burning in Historical Memory' St Andrews History Society Journal 2017, pp. 64-71.

Conference Presentations

'Networks of Devotion: Auction Catalogues and the Catholic Book Trade in Amsterdam, 1650-1700’ Book Trade Catalogues Workshop, 15 June 2018. University of St Andrews.

‘"To all honourable, godly, and devout Virgins of Holland": Institutional Images of Lay Religious Women in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam’ Inspiration and Institution: Ecclesiastical History Society Summer Conference, 16-18 July 2019 (forthcoming).