Aysha Pollnitz

Lecturer in History

Member, Medieval and Early Modern Workshop, Rice University

Email: Aysha.Pollnitz [] rice.edu  Phone: X 3526  Office: 318 Humanities


  • Ph.D.  University of Cambridge, 2006
  • M.Phil. University of Cambridge, 2003
  • B.A. University of Sydney, 2001

Areas of Interest

  • Early Modern Britain
  •  sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century European intellectual history
  • history of education

Research and Teaching

Dr. Pollnitz received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2006. She arrived at Rice University in 2010 following Fellowships at Trinity College, Cambridge and the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. She has taught at the University of Cambridge and Georgetown University, where she was awarded two Learning Initiative grants for Curriculum Enrichment.

Her current book manuscript, “Princely education in sixteenth-century Britain”, offers the first comparative account of the theory and practice of royal pedagogy in England and Scotland from 1486 to 1649. It was a commonplace of early modern political thought that good government could be secured through the careful cultivation of the ruler. This study proposes that dynastic accident and religious reform gave that notion particularly strong traction in the British Isle. Over the course of the sixteenth century, the Tudors and Stuarts studied Latin and Greek literature more seriously than any of their predecessors or most of their continental contemporaries. Yet their reasons for doing so changed. This study shows that princely education went from being a theoretical brake on over-mighty monarchy, as described by Erasmus of Rotterdam, to become an engine pushing England and Scotland towards absolutism.

In addition to offering new interpretations of several major works of early modern political thought, this monograph provides a detailed investigation of the pedagogical culture of sixteenth-century Britain. It compares humanists’ and theologians’ printed prescriptions to evidence of schooling contained in surviving exercise books, household accounts, literary gifts in embroidered covers, court entertainments, letters, journals, translations, marginal annotations, ambassadorial reports, and library lists. Overall this comparative approach enables readers to hear how various political and religious ideologies actually sounded in early modern Britain.

Dr. Pollnitz has taught courses on early modern European history and literature, on the history of political thought and historical method and argument. She has advised graduate students on topics in British and intellectual history. At Rice University Dr. Pollnitz will teach HIST 345: Renaissance Europe in Fall 2010. In Spring 2011 she is offering a class on the Tudors and Stuarts.

Dr. Pollnitz does not direct graduate dissertations at Rice. However she would be glad to offer directed reading to graduate students with interests in early modern British and European history and to support their study of paleography and manuscript and early modern book handling.

Selected Publications

“Religion and Translation in the Court of Henry VIII: Princess Mary, Katherine Parr and the Paraphrases of Erasmus,” in Mary Tudor: Old and New Perspectives, ed. Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman (Palgrave Macmillan) forthcoming, January 2011.

“Humanism and Court Culture in the Education of Tudor Royal Children,” in Tudor Court Culture, ed. Tom Betteridge (Selingrove PA: Susquehanna University Press), 2010.

“Educating Hamlet and Prince Hal,” in Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought, ed. David Armitage, Conal Condren and Andrew Fitzmaurice (Cambridge University Press), 2009.


 PollnitzCoverOne PollnitzCoverTwo 
Shakespeare and Early Modern
Political Thought (2009)
Tudor Court Culture (2010)
Tudor Queenship (2010)

Curriculum Vitae

 Current  C.V.