Eve with apple

Profile: Sasha Garwood

Dr Sasha Garwood’s reformation expertise can be summed up as “Women, bodies, speech, rebellion”. The 500 Reformations team asked Sasha some questions about how this knowledge connects with her research.

Tell us about your Reformation research:

My work focuses on early modern women’s relationship with food, sexuality and the body.

Obviously (or perhaps not?) the Reformation and the shift from ritualistic Catholicism to justification by faith alone and worship in the vernacular had a profound effect on women’s experiences of selfhood and embodiment, particularly given a cultural context that interpreted feminine physicality as hungering, leaky, imperfect and often dangerous.

The way women negotiated this in speech and thought can be traced by examining their correspondence and publications–it’s no accident that the seventeenth century saw an explosion in female public speech. Women used the Reformation as an opportunity for speech and challenge to the status quo in ways that took centuries to overcome.

My talk will explore a few key examples--noblewomen, Quaker women, Catholic women–and look at how women dealt with the ideological changes and practical impact of the Reformation.

What question, or questions, are you aiming to answer in your 500 Reformations talk?

I’ll be asking, “What did the Reformation ever do for women?” How did the Reformation affect how women thought about themselves and their bodies? How did the Reformation affect cultural concepts of gender, sexuality and embodiment? How might the Reformation have changed women’s lives?

I can also cover related topics such as prophetesses and speech, or the difference between Catholic and Protestant concepts of the body and how that affected practices like fasting and punishment.

Is this your main research area?

My main work has the Reformation as a background, not a focus, but it’s the same stuff.


Find out more:

Read about Sasha (personal blog).


Want to hear Sasha speak?

Those in Sheffield and the surrounding area are encouraged to invite Sasha as part of the 500 Reformations scheme: Information about hosting.


The featured image is a detail from Eve, as painted by Luther’s artistic collaborator Lucas Cranach the elder. The original painting and its partner (Adam) are now owned by the Uffizi gallery in Florence