My current project offers the first in-depth history of sleep in the early modern world. It delves inside English households to reveal the ways in which people understood sleep and how they practiced it on a daily basis. The project charts an important phase of transformation of attitudes towards sleep, and its everyday practice, and fills a major gap in histories of everyday life. This research also suggests that culture, environment and emotions play a critical role in ordering people's day-to-day experiences of sleep in the early modern and modern worlds. The monograph based on this research, Sleep in Early Modern England, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. In 2017 the book was shortlisted for both the Wolfson History Prize and the Longman-History Today Book Prize.
Research funding and support for the project has been received from the British Academy, from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, from the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Lewis Walpole Library (Yale University). A series of articles stemming from this research have appeared, or are shortly due to appear, in Cultural and Social History, in History: The Journal of the Historical Association, in the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, in the Journal of the History of Ideas and in History Workshop Journal. A major impact project 'How We Used to Sleep' funded by an AHRC Follow-On Funding Award is currently underway in collaboration with the National Trust's Little Moreton Hall. Updates about the project can be found on my research website: www.historiesofsleep.com and via my Twitter feed: @sashahandley.
My second major research interest is in early modern supernatural beliefs and the history of emotions. My first monograph 'Visions of an Unseen World' (2007) examined the vibrancy and circulation of ghost stories and ghost beliefs in seventeenth and eighteenth-century English culture - a period often associated with declining interest in supernatural phenomena. Since then, I co-curated the exhibition 'Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World' at the John Rylands Library with Dr Jennifer Spinks (University of Melbourne). The international symposium 'Supernatural Spaces in the Early Modern World' (May 2016) is the first major event of the Emboded Emotions research group based at Manchester and will lead to future international collaborations in the field of the history of emotions with scholars at the University of Melbourne.
In 2015, I became co-editor of the new book series New Directions in Social and Cultural History (Bloomsbury Academic) with Professor Lucy Noakes and Professor Rohan McWilliam. Our first volume in the series, New Directions in Social and Cultural History, reflects on what it means to be a social and cultural historian today, with contributions from leading scholars in the field. It will be published later this year.