Aysha Pollnitz

Assistant Professor of History
RA Baker College
Ph.D. University of Cambridge, 2006
M. Phil. University of Cambridge, 2003
B.A. (Hons I*) University of Sydney, 2001
310 Humanities
Areas of Interest: 
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Intellectual and Cultural History
  • Political and Religious Thought
  • History of Education
  • Atlantic World
Research and Teaching: 

Dr. Pollnitz is an early modern historian whose research focuses on the transmission of knowledge and ideas in Europe and the Atlantic.  Her first book on Princely education in early modern Britain was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015.  It shows how humanist education transformed political and religious culture by contributing to the growth of royal power and significant opposition to it in Tudor and Stuart Britain.  Dr. Pollnitz’s research for this project was supported by fellowships from Trinity College, Cambridge and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.  Princely education won the 2016 Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize.

Dr. Pollnitz is currently researching the translation of liberal education to the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  She is particularly interested in the classical schooling of indigenous elites in New England and New Spain and the contribution of the liberal arts and sciences to discourses of empire and social mobility in the New World.  In 2016-2017, Dr. Pollnitz’s research will be supported by fellowships from the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University and the Newberry Library in Chicago.

After teaching at the University of Cambridge, Georgetown University, and Grinnell College, Dr. Pollnitz offers undergraduate courses in early modern European history at Rice University.  They include HIST/MDEM 345: “Renaissance Europe” and HIST 361: “Tudors and Stuarts, 1485-1707”.  She will also teach new classes on “Sex, gender, and family in Europe, 1300-1700” and “Pre-Modern Political Thought: Cicero to Locke” and regularly instruct a FWIS.

While Dr. Pollnitz does not accept applications to direct doctoral dissertations, she offers graduate fields, directed readings, and seminars in early modern European history upon request.

Dr. Pollnitz is committed to facilitating undergraduate research.  She welcomes inquiries from students who wish to undertake summer or semester-long independent research projects, history honors theses, and Mellon Mays or Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program theses.  In the past, she has advised undergraduate student research on topics including: radical religion and early modern print; the decline of witchcraft trials; Tudors on film; architecture and the invention of tradition in Georgian England;  attitudes towards suicide in early modern Britain; European travel-writing on the Ottoman Empire; Jesuit political thought; Italian recipe books and the Renaissance spice trade; the representation of indigenous Americans in European travel-writing; and on rhetorical manuals for New World preachers.  Her advisees have secured funding to undertake research at archives and rarebook libraries in the United States and in Europe.  In addition, her 300 and 400 level classes require a research paper.

Selected Publications: 
  • Princely education in early modern Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • “Translation,” In Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation, ed. Margaret King (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com.
  • “Educating Hamlet and Prince Hal,” in Shakespeare and Early Modern Political Thought, eds David Armitage, Conal Condren and Andrew Fitzmaurice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) (paperback 2012), pp. 119-38.  Reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism, 146 (2012).
  • “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, eds Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman (New York: Palgrave, 2011), pp. 119-33,
  • “Christian Women or Sovereign Queens? Representing the Schooling of Mary I and Elizabeth I,” Tudor Queenship: The Reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, eds Anna Whitelock and Alice Hunt (New York: Palgrave, 2010), pp. 127-44.
  • “Humanism and Court Culture in the Education of Tudor Royal Children,” in Tudor Court Culture, eds Tom Betteridge and Anna Riehl (Selingrove PA: Susquehanna University Press, 2010), pp. 12-38.
  • “Humanism and the Education of Henry, Prince of Wales, 1594-1612,” Prince Henry Revived: Image and Exemplarity in Early Modern England, ed. Timothy Wilks (London: Southampton Solent University in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, 2007), pp. 22-64.