All seminars are in GR-06/07, Faculty of English at 5.15pm

Tuesday 9 May

Dr Tania Demetriou, Cambridge

‘A true Poet’: Chapman’s Homer, Poetic Idealism, and the Theatre

This paper will revisit the moment of the appearance of Chapman’s Seauen Bookes of Homeres Iliades in 1598 in the light of Chapman’s distinctive views about poetics and of the whole story of the endeavour that was his translation of Homer. It will pay special attention to the paratexts of Seauen Bookes and its 1598 sequel, Achilles Shield, arguing that they clearly tell different narrative from the one that is sometimes told and most often assumed about the project’s high-profile dedication to the Earl of Essex, one that reveals a great deal about Chapman’s poetic idealism and his unusual attitude to patrons. It will propose that what underpinned and enabled the poetic pride at the heart of this episode was the considerable professional security that Chapman enjoyed as a member of the theatre community. Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour will make a significant appearance.

Tuesday 23 May

Prof. Helen Hackett, UCL

'Two late Elizabethans writing the mind: Thomas Churchyard and Nicholas Breton'

The Elizabethan period saw a rising tide of writing concerned in various ways with the mind, with a particular trend towards introspection in the 1590s. This occurred across a range of genres: medical, philosophical, theological, and of course literary, with much creative innovation as authors strove to represent inner states and mental processes in writing. Looking beyond the much-discussed genres of sonnet-sequence and dramatic soliloquy, this paper will discuss Thomas Churchyard’s ‘Man is But His Mind’ (1593), an example of the emerging essay form, and Nicholas Breton’s penitential poetry in female voices. Churchyard’s essay illustrates, among other things, the (to us) surprisingly political content of Elizabethan writing about the mind; while Breton’s penitential poems participate in a growing preoccupation with the passions as intermediaries between mind and body.