Events This Week

Poetics Before Modernity
Tuesday 13th June, 5.15, Trinity College OCR

Kathy Eden (Columbia):
‘The Early Modern Rhetoric of Plato’s Poetics’ (final session in the series!)

Abstract: Although Plato was routinely berated in the Renaissance for exiling the poets from his ideal city, his detractors nevertheless considered him, in the words of Philip Sidney, ‘of all philosophers . . . the most poetical’. Often taking the form of stories (mythoi) and images (eikones), his poetics was so highly esteemed in the early modern period that it came to define not only the most effective strategies of argumentation but the style of prose. This talk will first explore some of the signature features of a Socratic poetics as practiced and preached in Plato’s dialogues and then trace its impact on the literary theory.

Drawing Letter Forms and Lines

This is a series of meetings organized by Sachiko Kusukawa and Alexander Marr in conversation with Paul Antonio. We are interested in gathering scholars of early modern culture, science and art interested in letter forms, line and flourishes as part of their research. We are fortunate that Paul Antonio, a professional scribe with a deep familiarity with historical letter forms (for his work, please see (;, has kindly agreed to work with Cambridge scholars in a series of meetings among his busy schedule.

 What kind of manual dexterity and expertise are involved in letter forms? to what extent were the seemingly effortless ‘flourishes’ carefully planned and produced by a ‘disciplined’ hand? is it possible to speak of ‘individual styles’, when students were urged to trace and learn the lines from ‘copybooks’, especially in relation to ‘character’? what were the cultural cues and significance of particular letter forms, lines, curves and flourishes? did line-making and letter forms affect modes of thought? These are some of the questions we’d like to think through with Paul. To this end, we’ve organized two meetings: in the first meeting, we gather together to find a common ground of discussion and generate some specific questions, to which we will return with concrete examples, in a second meeting. We hope that these two meetings will lead to a colloquium on early modern script.

Meeting 1: Monday 19th June, 2-5pm, CRASSH

Methodological and historiographic discussion.

Readings: M. Baxandall, The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), chapter 6, ‘The period eye’, Tim Ingold, Lines : A Brief History (London: Routledge, 2007), chapter 5, ‘Drawing, writing and calligraphy’.  

Using these well-known studies as a spring-board, we will discuss various positions among historians about script and ‘linearity’ as a historical source, and how Paul’s perspective as a practitioner can be integrated to current interest in ‘reconstruction’ methods, visual culture and the history of material texts. We hope to generate specific questions that we can return to in the next meeting.

Meeting 2:  Tuesday 21st November, 2-5pm, CRASSH 

Study Day with Paul Antonio.

Preparation: identification of specific historical cases that are of interest to scholars.

These will be commentary sessions, where scholars will present their working assumptions about particular scripts and why they consider them historically significant. We will then ask Paul Antonio to demonstrate how those scripts are formed, and reflect with him how our assumptions have been changed or challenged. This in turn will help us formulate new research questions.

Colloquium on Early Modern Script (TBC Spring/Early Summer 2018)

This would be a colloquium for scholars working on script, integrating demonstration and commentary by Paul Antonio, and hopefully also a professional engraver who knows what is involved in transforming letter-forms into print.

If you would like to participate in the June meeting, please RSVP to Judith Weik:


Events This Week

Habsburg Seminar

Tuesday 6th June, 5.00-6.30, Senior Parlour, Gonville and Caius College

Dr Géza Pálffy (Institute of History at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences):
‘An Old Realm in a New Monarchy: Habsburg Coronations in Early Modern Hungary’

Early Modern Palaeography Workshop

Room 9, History Faculty, 1.00-3.00.
Thursday 15th June (English sources, led by Dr. Ceri Law)
Friday 16th June (French sources, led by Dr. Tom Hamilton)

These sessions are open to anybody working on early modern manuscript sources, and we are particularly interested in involving beginners in early modern palaoegraphy, especially anyone starting Part II or MPhil dissertation research over the summer.

Please let Ceri and Tom know if you plan to attend ( and  Participants are invited to send examples of sources for the group to discuss, or equally they are welcome to send a brief description of the type of sources they will be working on so that we can prepare appropriate materials. Don’t hesitate to get in touch too if you’re working on sources in different languages and need practice – this will help the workshop organisers (Irene Galandra-Cooper, Tom Hamilton, Stefan Hanss, Ceri Law) plan future sessions.

Events This Week

Hapsburg Studies Network Seminar

Tuesday 23rd May, 5-6.30, Gonville & Caius

Siegrid Westphal (Osnabrück):
‘The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation as an Order of Public Peace’

Wolfson Humanities Society Seminar

Tuesday 23rd May, 5.45-7.15, Wolfson College

Boyd Brogan:
‘Gender, Sexuality and Illness in Early Modern Exorcism’

Renaissance Graduate Seminar

Tuesday 23rd May, 5.15-6.45, English Faculty GR06/7

Hero Chalmers (Cambridge):
‘Rhetoric and Restoration in Margaret Cavendish’s Orations of Divers Sorts (1662)’

Hero Chalmers is Fellow and Director of Studies at Fitzwilliam College. She is the author of Royalist Women Writers (Oxford, 2004) and essays on Cavendish and other writers, and has edited Three Seventeenth-Century Plays on Women and Performance (with Sophie Tomlinson and Julie Sanders; Manchester, 2006). She is currently working
on the Cavendish circle more generally, including the equestrian treatises of William Cavendish.

History of Christianity Seminar

Wednesday 24th May, 2.15, Faculty of Divinity, Lightfoot Room

Sarah Mortimer (Oxford):
‘Counsels of Perfection and Reformation Political Thought’

Early Modern British and Irish History Seminar

Wednesday 24th May, 5.15pm – 7:15pm, Trinity College, Old Combination Room
(NB a change from the regular venue)

Eamon Duffy (Magdalene College):
‘Career Reflections’

Calls for Papers and Upcoming Events

Poetics Before Modernity Conference 2017 CfP

Encouraged by the warm reception of the seminar series, we are delighted to announce the Poetics before Modernity Conference 2017, taking place at CRASSH, 14-15 December 2017. Aimed at early- and mid-career researchers, this is a conference with an open call for papers and we hope to attract some of the most exciting current work on the subject in Cambridge and beyond. The deadline for abstracts is 15 June. For all further information, please see the attached CFP and the conference website, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Curiosity & Cognition – Embodied Things 1400-1900

9.30-6.30, Friday 16th June, Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, CRASSH, Cambridge

This is an international, interdisciplinary event bringing together a wide range of postgraduate and early career researchers to explore key aspects of material culture and embodied cognition. It will provide a significant discussion on the approach of current scholarship that investigates the human understanding of the world vis-à-vis objects, and consider the significance of embodiment in all processes of cognition and learning, moving beyond an obstructive divide between mind and hand, and between intellectual and manual knowledge.

Dr Marta Ajmar (VARI, Victoria and Albert Museum) will deliver the keynote paper. Dr Ajmar’s current research centres on the significance of embodiment within practice and engages with questions of cognition, experiential learning, knowledge exchange and the epistemology of making.

Registration is now open via this link:

William Perkins Conference

7.30pm Friday 19th May-9.45pm, Saturday 20th May, Round Church, Bridge Street Cambridge

Conference on the influential Elizabethan Cambridge divine William Perkins (1558-1602)  sponsored by the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This is free to attend without the need for prior registration. Further details and conference brochure here:

The Lisa Jardine Lecture

6.00, Wednesday 24th May, Skeel Lecture Theatre, People’s Palace, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Lyndal Roper (University of Oxford)
‘Cleverness is the garment that suits women least’: Luther and Women’

Lyndal Roper is Regius Professor of History at the University of Oxford, and the first woman (as well as the first Australian) to hold the Chair. Professor Roper is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a Fellow of the Brandenburg Akademie der Wissenschaften. She is former Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, a former Humboldt Fellow and an Honorary Visiting Fellow of the History Department University of Melbourne. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Melbourne. Professor Roper has worked on the history of witchcraft, and in 2016 published Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (Penguin-Random House). She is currently writing a history of the German Peasants’ War (1524-5), the greatest uprising in Western Europe before the French Revolution.

To book please follow the link below:

Anglo-Iberian Relations: From the Medieval to the Modern: CfP

19-21 October 2017
Zafra, Extremadura, Spain

We are now accepting individual papers, panels and roundtables by academics and heritage professionals for the second conference in this vibrant field of Anglo-Iberian studies, including colonial and Latin American studies. Since our inaugural meeting in 2015 (Mértola, Portugal) we have extended our timeframe from beyond the early modern period, to include papers from the medieval to the modern.

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. English is the preferred language of the conference, but papers will be considered in Portuguese and Spanish, if a detailed summary can be provided in English. Panellists may talk only on England or Portugal or Spain if so desired; organisers will team them up with panellists covering the other countries on a similar timeframe or topic. We aim to facilitate researchers wishing to communicate and collaborate with those outside of their present research network.

Abstracts and panel/roundtable descriptions should be sent no later than by midnight on 2 June 2017 to:

If you would like to be considered for one of our Student Bursaries, please let us know when you submit your abstract.

For further information please contact: Elizabeth Evenden-Kenyon (

Events This Week


Tuesday 16 May

English Legal History Seminar

5.15, Room 9, History Faculty

Helen Saunders (Cambridge)
‘Excavating the Archive: Expectant Heirs in the Chancery Decree Rolls, 1596-1640’

Wednesday 17 May

Embodied Things: Histories of Cognition, Practices, & Theories

12.30-2.00, Fitzwilliam Museum

Porcelain: Fitzwilliam Museum site visit with Helen Ritchie (Dept. of Applied Arts) at Things.

Thursday 18 May  

Early Modern Economic and Social History Seminar

5.00, Room 9, History Faculty

Susan Flavin (Anglia University),
‘Institutional Diets in Sixteenth-Century Ireland’

Early Modern World Seminar

8.00, Senior Parlour, Gonville and Caius

Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia (Penn State),
‘What did Missionaries Eat in China, 17-18th Centuries?’

Events This Week


Renaissance Graduate Seminar

Tuesday 9th May, 5.15, GR06/07

Julie Sanders (Newcastle University)
‘Fire, Flood, Ice and Inundation: Environmental Event and Narrative Description in the Early Modern Period’

Hapsburg Seminar

Tuesday 9th May, 5.00, Senior Parlour, Gonville & Caius College

William O’Reilly (University of Cambridge)
‘Hapsburg Control on the Ottoman Frontier: Medicine, The Military and Vampire Mania in an 18th Century Borderland’

History of Christianity Seminar

Wednesday 10th May, 2.15, Faculty of Divinity, Lightfoot Room

Colin Armstrong (Queens’ University, Belfast)
‘A Laudian in Ulster: The Irish Career of Bishop Jeremy Taylor (1658-67)’

Public Lecture: Professor Sven Dupré

Wednesday 10th May, 5.00, Little Hall, Sidgwick Site

‘Ingenious Failure: Artisanal Languages of Error’

Sven Dupré is Professor and Chair of History of Art, Science and Technology at Utrecht University, and Professor of History of Art, Science and Technology at the University of Amsterdam. He is a visiting fellow on the Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science project during May 2017.

Followed by a wine reception in the atrium, Alison Richard building.


Early Modern French Seminar

Friday 12th May, 2.00, Clare College, Latimer Room

Emma Herdman (Saint Andrews)
‘Singing Out: Avian Uprisings in Renaissance France’



The Dudley White Local History Lecture 2017

Wednesday 10th May, 7.00, Room EBS.2.34, Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester Campus

John Morrill (University of Cambridge)
‘Living with the Revolution: Family Dilemmas in Civil War East Anglia’


Events This Week


Embodied Things (CRASSH)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017, Seminar Room SG1, Alison Richard Building

Emily Rose (Harvard), John Robb (Cambridge)


Ralph Roister Doister

Tuesday, 14 March, 7 PM, Judith Wilson Studio, English Faculty

Presented by the Marlowe Society and the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature (CMEMLL)

Ralph Roister Doister thinks Christian Custance loves him madly. Christian Custance thinks Ralph Roister Doister is a twit. Only one of them is correct.

Join the Marlowe Society as we set out on a new venture–exploring the lesser-performed plays of the early modern period through script-in-hand stagings. On March 14, we begin with Nicholas Udall’s 1552 comedy about a dim-witted man convinced of his own importance attempting to force himself on an unwilling woman. Sound like anyone in the news today?

Presented in partnership with the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature, the evening will include a panel discussion on the legal issues invoked by the play. Tickets are free and admission is first come first served, but space is limited!


Early Modern European History Seminar

Thursday, 16 March 2017, 1-2pm, Green Room, Gonville and Caius College

Space, Privacy and Gender in the early modern Italian Palace

Sandra Cavallo (Royal Holloway, University of London)




London Shakespeare Seminar

Monday 13 March, 17.15-19.00, Senate Room, Senate House
Gary Taylor, ‘Collaborative History: Parts of Henry VI’


Society, Culture & Belief, 1500-1800 (IHR)

Thursday, 16 March, 17:30, John S Cohen Room N203, 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House

Making a record of the self: Individual Stories and Collective Histories in the Archives of the London Livery Companies, c. 1540-1660

Jennifer Richards (Sidney Sussex, Cambridge)


Tudor & Stuart History (IHR)

Monday, 13 March, 17:15, Montague Room, G26, Ground Floor, Senate House

Mini-colloquium on Lord Burghley

Norman Jones (Utah State University), Simon Healy (History of Parliament), Neil Younger (Open University)



CFP: European Shakespeare Research Association conference, Shakespeare and European Theatrical Cultures: AnAtomizing Text and Stage, University of Gdańsk and The Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, Poland, 27 – 30 July 2017

The deadline for the following seminars has been extended to MARCH 31st

1. Avant-Garde Shakespeares/Shakespeare in the Avant-Garde

2. “The accent of his tongue affecteth him:” “Accentism” and/in Shakespeare

7. Anatomizing Shakespearean Myth-making: Game of Thrones

9. Staged on the Page: Transmedial Shakespeare in Theatre and Visual Arts

11. The name of action: actors of Shakespeare and Shakespearean actors

12. Shakespeare and Music

13. Shakespearean Drama and the Early Modern European Stage

15. Magic through ritual objects and stage props: Early Modern practices and Modern adaptations

18. Staging Utopias: Shakespeare in Print and Performance

19. Shakespeare in performance in digital media

Seminar descriptions here

This conference will convene Shakespeare scholars at a theatre that proudly stands in the place where English players regularly performed 400 years ago. This makes us ponder with renewed interest the relation between theatre and Shakespeare. The urge to do so may sound like a commonplace, but it comes to us enhanced by the fact that in the popular and learned imagination alike Shakespeare is inseparable from theatre while the theatre, for four centuries now, first in England, then on the continent (Europe) and eventually in the world, has been more and more strongly defined and shaped by Shakespeare. Shakespeare has become the theatrical icon, a constant point of reference, the litmus paper for the formal, technological and ideological development of the theatre, and for the impact of adaptation and appropriation on theatrical cultures. Shakespeare has served as one of the major sources for the development of European culture, both high and low. His presence permeates the fine shades and fissures of a multifarious European identity. His work has informed educational traditions, and, through forms of textual transmit such as translation and appropriation, has actively contributed to the process of building national distinctiveness. Shakespeare has been one of the master keys and, at the same time, a picklock granting easier access to the complex and challenging space of European and universal values.

Please send your abstracts and biographies to seminar organisers (and cc conference organisers at not later than 31 March 2017.

You need to be a member of ESRA to take part in the congress. It is free to join ESRA and you can register here (http ://www . um . es/shakespeare/esra/registration . php).

The list of seminars has been made available on the ESRA and the conference website

Download seminars list here!

Keynote speakers: Professor Małgorzata Grzegorzewska (University of Warsaw), Professor Diana Henderson (MIT), Professor Peter Holland (University of Notre Dame), and Luc Perceval (Hamburg Thalia Theatre)

The congress coincides with the 21st International Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk taking place at the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre

We will continue to update our website with the details of forthcoming productions and special festival events, including workshops with invited theatre companies and meetings with theatre directors.

CFP: Shakespeare Unbound, Conference of the French Shakespeare Society, Paris, 18 – 20 January 2018

The Société Française Shakespeare is dedicating its annual conference to “Shakespeare Unbound”. The topic addresses Shakespeare’s propensity to negotiate with dominant ideologies, his ability to break and renew formal and cultural rules and his long-lasting influence in creating innovative dramatic and poetic forms, new words and thoughts, “And all that faith creates or love desires, / Terrible, strange, sublime and beauteous shapes” (Shelley), Prometheus-like. This conference will provide an occasion for academics, theatre, performance and arts practitioners to discuss Shakespeare and his contemporaries’ abilities to question and renew the boundaries of art. We welcome proposals (in English or in French) on topics such as:

–      The publication and editorial history of Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ works — in bound and unbound formats;

–      Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ reappropriation of classical and early modern culture, Shakespeare’s “borrowed robes”, his contribution to liberating dramatic and poetic aesthetics, and ability to “beguile Nature of her custom”;

–      Shakespeare adaptations and appropriations from the 17th to the 21st century which have contributed to liberating or rediscovering his work and/or influence.

Selected proceedings will be published in the Société Française Shakespeare’s peer-reviewed online journal: http ://shakespeare . revues . org. Please send proposals by April 25, 2017 to Proposals should include a title, an abstract (750-word max.), and a short bio.



Events This Week



History of Material Texts Workshop

Monday 6 March, 12.30-2, Milstein Seminar Room, University Library

‘The Medical Book in the Nineteenth Century: From MS Casebooks to Mass Plagiarism’
A workshop led by Sarah Bull, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, HPS


Middle English Graduate Seminar

Wednesday, 08/03/17, 5:15pm, English Faculty Room GR04

Rita Copeland (University of Pennsylvania), Enthymeme and Emotion from Aristotle to Hoccleve


Poetics Before Modernity

Tuesday, 7 March 2017, 5.15pm, Old Combination Room at Trinity College

Gavin Alexander (University of Cambridge)


This paper is about lyric poetry’s place in classical and early modern poetics. That place looks less sure than does that of tragedy or epic—which may be Aristotle’s fault, or due to the nature of lyric; it clearly has something to do with the fact that lyric is hard to define and delimit. I question two common myths about lyric’s place in the system of poetic genres: that there has always been a straightforward and accepted tripartition of poetry into epic, dramatic, and lyric; and, conversely, that this tripartition was only a Romantic discovery. I also resist the direction of the “new lyric studies”, which attempts to challenge the usefulness of the category “lyric” to the understanding of various kinds of short poetry. I trace lyric’s presence in less familiar theoretical settings (grammar, rhetoric) in order to ask if we might consider such treatments as a part of the poetics of lyric. And I aim to show how the interplay between the paradigms and taxonomies of rhetoric and poetics contribute to lyric’s vexed (and rich) status in the history of literary theory. Do Sappho, Pindar, Horace, Petrarch, and Shakespeare actually have something in common that might be captured by the term “lyric”; or should ancient lyric can only be grouped with modern lyric of a strictly neoclassical bent? In considering why it has been difficult to agree about both what a lyric poem is and what features of form, content, mode, or method might characterise lyric, I will suggest how theoretical muddle might be contained by a larger clarity.

Gavin Alexander is Reader in Renaissance Literature in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ’s College. His publications include Writing after Sidney: The Literary Response to Sir Philip Sidney, 1586-1640 (Oxford, 2006), editions of Sidney’s “Defence of Poesy” and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism (London, 2004) and William Scott’s Model of Poesy (Cambridge, 2013), and the collection Renaissance Figures of Speech (Cambridge, 2007; with Sylvia Adamson and Katrin Ettenhuber).


Early Modern Interdisciplinary Seminar

Wednesday, 8th March, 12-1:15pm, English Faculty, Board Room

In Collaboration with the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature (CMEMLL)

Dr Maria Mendes (Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa) will present the following paper:

Praise with Purpose: Flattery in Early Modern England

Susceptibility to flattery has long been considered a character flaw, which is the reason those who believe it are usually described as being vain, proud, tyrannical or conceited. I will close-read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, so as to question if Caesar’s failure to anticipate the conspirators’ plot is, as is usually thought, an illustration of his proneness to flattery or, as I hope to show, an example of the flatterer’s capacity to mirror one’s own mind. Flatterers might be very able in showing rhetorically what the flattered person’s ideal self would look like, and they might in turn tend to supplement rhetorical suggestion with their own desires and concerns. If this is the case, flattery is central to understanding that Julius Caesar describes a hermeneutic difficulty, and characterises the difficulties of knowing another’s mind.


Early Modern French Seminar

Friday, 10 March, 2-4pm, Clare College, Latimer Room

Phillip USHER (New York University)

Exterranean Insurgency in the Humanist Anthropocene


Early Modern British and Irish History Seminar

Wednesday, 8 March, 5.15pm, Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall

Alice Soulieux-Evans (Wolfson),
‘“Because thou canst not walk in thy minster’s way”: cathedrals, conformity and the Church of England in the Restoration period’




British History in the 17th Century Seminar (IHR)

Thursday, 9 March, 17:15, Pollard Room N301, 3rd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House

‘The Print that Binds: official print and personal record keeping in seventeenth-century England’
Frances Maguire (York)



Events This Week


Renaissance Graduate Seminar

Tuesday, 28/02/17, 5.15pm in G-R06-07
David Hillman (Cambridge)
‘Farewell as welcome (and vice versa) in Antony and Cleopatra’


Early Modern Interdisciplinary Seminar

Wednesday, 1st March, 12-1:15pm, English Faculty, Room GR03

Nailya  Shamgunova (University of Cambridge)
‘Queering the Anglo-Ottoman Contact, c. 1550-1700’


Early Modern French Seminar

Friday, 3 March, 2-4pm, Clare College, Latimer Room

Mathilde BOMBART (Lyon 3)

‘La posture insurrectionnelle de l’auteur dans la polémique au XVIIe siècle: du littéraire au politique? Autour de Guez de Balzac’



Early Modern British and Irish History Seminar

Wednesday, 1 March, 5.15pm, Graham Storey Room, Trinity Hall

Jamie Trace (St Catharine’s)
‘Giovanni Botero and English political thought’


Early Modern Economic and Social History Seminar

Thursday 2nd March, 5pm, Room 9 of the History Faculty

John Morgan (University of Manchester)
Storm surges and state formation in early modern England: coping with flooding in coastal and lowland Lincolnshire

Recurrent flooding was a condition of life in low and wet grounds. Erecting dams, scouring ditches and laying drains consumed significant amounts of labour time and money, as the profitability of agriculture rested on maintaining appropriate water levels. The success of one farmer was reliant on another, requiring complex co-ordination and administration. I will outline how flood protection was provisioned, its costs and their impact.



Early Modern European History Seminar

Thursday, 2 March 2017, 1-2pm, Green Room, Gonville and Caius College

Censorship and philosophy in the Two Sicilies, c. 1688-1767

Felix Waldmann (Cambridge)





Tudor & Stuart History Seminar (IHR)

Monday, 27 February,17:15, Wolfson Room NB01, Basement, IHR, North block, Senate House

‘Ralph Sheldon of Beoley & Weston (1537-1613): No Catholic or no consequences?’
Hilary Turner (Independent scholar)