Dr Duncan Frost

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Dr Duncan Frost
PhD (2021) at the University of Kent
Position/Fellowship type:
Frances Yates Long-Term Fellow
Warburg Institute
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Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Summary of research interests and expertise:


Duncan is a cultural historian of the early modern period. His work focuses on how people's perception of their world was shaped by printed literature, material culture and non-human agents. He completed his PhD in 2021 at the University of Kent. His thesis studied the representations of the global seventeenth-century world in English broadside ballads. He was awarded the Society of Renaissance Studies’ postdoctoral fellowship to investigate the the social implications of songbird ownership in seventeenth-century England. This developed into a larger study of songbird training and his current work examines how this practice impacted early modern perceptions of the human-animal boundary.


I am fascinated by the ways in which people’s lives could be impacted by the animals they owned or interacted with. Different animals could enhance the social standing of owners or even be used to help shape identities. Print literature could also function in much the same way. The early modern period witnessed such a boom of printed knowledge about the natural world and charting the transmission of this across the social spectrum can reveal intimate details about the ways in which people understood and engaged with the world around them.


Duncan Frost, ‘Songbirds and Social Distinction in the Seventeenth Century’, Renaissance Studies, (2023) forthcoming

‘“Nothing to shew for his Tomb but a Wave”: Storms, Shipwreck and the Human Cost of Global Trade Depicted in Seventeenth-Century Broadside Ballads’, The Mariner’s Mirror 108:4 (2022), 390-405

‘“One Neighbour will strive to wrong another”: The Dangers of London Presented in Seventeenth-Century Broadside Ballads’, The Seventeenth Century, 36:5 (2021), 715-732

‘“Provisions being scarce and pale death drawing nigh, / They’d try to cast lots to see who should die”: The Justification of Shipwreck Cannibalism in Popular Balladry’, Exchanges: The Interdisciplinary Research Journal, 7:2 (2020), 17-34

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