Claire S. Schen


Prof. Claire Schen.

Claire S. Schen


Claire S. Schen



Early Modern European History; The Atlantic World; Intellectual History; History of Religion; Social and Cultural History; Transnational History


  • PhD, Brandeis, 1995
  • AB, Brown, 1987

Research Interests

My current research focuses on British piracy, captivity, and religious conversion in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. I am a social historian, focused particularly on religious tolerance and intolerance, and the experiences of ordinary people with cultural contact and conflict in the early modern period. My research is evolving with my engagement with methodologies of digital scholarship, particularly in mapping and the visualization of social, political, and commercial networks. I am mapping the “home” places associated with known captives and visualizing the networks of agents and family members and friends working to secure their relief or redemption. In terms of piracy, I am developing Mapping Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean Piracy and Visualizing British Networks: Henry Mainwaring and the British to show the ports frequented by pirates around the Mediterranean and North Africa, and to reveal social networks of those directly or indirectly engaged in or affected by piracy. My project will show the lived experience of piracy and attempts to shed a pirate identity, as well as the integration of piracy in the English political economy. The digital exhibition centers experience gained in the Mediterranean – and thereby North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, Islam, and southern Catholic Europe – in the history of Britain and its communities.

I am also working in the area of public history, with a focus on bicycle manufacturing, racing, and riding in Buffalo, NY in the 1890s. This is an example of synergy between my teaching areas and public history research. I have lectured on early bicycle clubs and groups to local history organizations and engaged with advocates for riding by women and historically underrepresented groups among bicyclists in the twenty-first century.

Courses Regularly Taught and Teaching Interests

HIS 141: World History to 1500
HIS 317: Early Modern Britain
HIS 330: Race, Religion, and Sex in Early Modern Europe
HIS 390: Global Plagues and Pandemics
HIS 415: Topics in Renaissance History
HIS 421: Topics in British History
HIS 504: Early Modern Core
HIS 529: European Social History
UB Seminar: The Bicycle

Teaching interests also include the incorporation of digital research methodologies and modes of presentation. See the collaborative StoryMaps project from History 390, “Global Plagues and Pandemics”: Typhoid in North Boston, NY, 1843: Small Town, Big Story

Selected Publications


Charity and Lay Piety in Reformation London, 1500-1620 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History


Schen, Kimberly Plassche, and Keith Mages, “Typhoid of 1843 on StoryMaps: Collaborating to tell local history,” in Teaching Digital Storytelling: Inspiring Voices through Online Narratives (Rowman and Littlefield, forthcoming).

“London,” Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation, in ed. Margaret King, (New York: Oxford University Press, May 15, 2014).

“Breaching ‘Community’ in Britain: Captives, Renegades, and the Redeemed,” in eds. Karen Spierling and Michael Halvorson, Defining Community in Early Modern Europe, St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, Nov. 2008), pp. 229-246

“Piracy in the Atlantic and Mediterranean,” in eds. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra and Erik R. Seeman, The Atlantic in Global History, 1500-2000 (Prentice Hall, 2006), pp. 149-61

“Greeks and ‘Grecians’ in London: The ‘Other’ Strangers,” in eds. Randolph Vigne and Charles Littleton, From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland, and Colonial America, 1550-1750 (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2001), pp. 268-75

“Constructing the Poor in Early Seventeenth-Century London,” _Albion_, Vol. 32, No. 3, Fall 2000, pp. 450-63.


MoEML, St Stephen Walbrook parish Map of Early Modern London

Affiliations and Memberships

  • American Historical Association
  • North American Conference on British Studies
  • Renaissance Society of America
  • Sixteenth Century Society


  • 2008: Grant-in-aid from The Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, to attend year-long-colloquium on “Forms of Religious Experience in the 17th-Century British Atlantic World”
  • 2004: Grant-in-Aid from The Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Fall Faculty Weekend Seminar, “Religious Conflict and Toleration in the Early Modern World,” Sept. 17-18, 2004