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Dr Roisin Watson

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Open University in 2023 as Lecturer in Early Modern History. Following the completion of my PhD at the University of St Andrews in 2015, I taught at the University of Winchester and King’s College London. From 2018-2023 I was a Departmental Lecturer at the University of Oxford. I have held research fellowships from the Institute of Historical Research, the Leibniz Institut für Europäische Geschichte, and the Society for Renaissance Studies.

Research interests

I am a historian of early modern religion. My work considers the social and cultural effects of the Reformation. I am interested in the ways in which visual and material worlds intersected with the construction of early modern European communities, the creation and consolidation of confessional memory, and the interplay between civic culture and confessionalisation.

My book, The Beauty of Belief. Decorating the Württemberg Church during the Reformation, traces how church decoration changed and evolved after the implementation of evangelical reform in the Duchy of Württemberg. It argues that the study of ecclesiastical visual culture can give us greater insight into the dynamics of religious change and how theology was translated into everyday practice.  My work thinks more broadly about the ways in which images and objects might complicate our binary notions of Lutheranism Vs Catholicism and how they can challenge textual narratives of religious change.

I am a member of the Medieval and Early Modern research group at the OU.

Teaching interests

I am a central academic on the module teams for A223: Early Modern Europe: Society and Culture, 1500-1780 and A111: Discovering the Arts and Humanities

I welcome PhD proposals on any topics relating to early modern Germany, religion, and visual & material cultures.


Shells and Grottoes in Modern Germany (2021-08-17)
Watson, Róisín
In: Bass, Marisa Anne; Goldgar, Anne; Grootenboer, Hanneke and Swan, Claudia eds. Conchophilia: Shells, Art, and Curiosity in Early Modern Europe (pp. 127-154)
ISBN : 9780691215761 | Publisher : Princeton University Press | Published : New Jersey, USA

Remembering and forgetting the dead in the churches of Reformation Germany (2020)
Watson, Róisín
In: Walsham, Alexandra; Cummings, Brian; Law, Ceri and Riley, Karis eds. Remembering the Reformation. Remembering the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds (pp. 154-172)
ISBN : 9780367150754 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon, Oxon