Renaissance Reading Group

News from the English Department at Exeter:

The Renaissance Reading Group is finally here – All are welcome!

Starting with the theme of “Damnable Devils and Alluring Angels”, the group will meet every other Thursday between 1-2pm in the Queen’s SCR (conveniently located next to the cafe). The first meeting of the group is scheduled for Thursday 14th February.

Our first (Valentine’s day) text is Thomas Dekker’s If It Be Not Good The Devil Is In It. There is a copy of the play available for photocopying outside Karen Edward’s office (Queen’s 203). The play is also on EEBO for those of you that don’t mind a little eye strain.

Please contact Vicky Sparey ( or Roxanne Grimmett ( with any queries or suggestions for future reading material.


Ostrich Eggs and Miraculous Powers in Fifteenth-Century Egypt

Ostrich Eggs and Miraculous Powers in Fifteenth-Century Egypt

Professor Dionisius Agius will be speaking to the Exeter Medieval Seminar next week, Tuesday 5 February, 5.15 in Queen’s MR3.

Dionisius Agius is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Material Culture at IAIS. He has published extensively on maritime ethnography and Arabic language across a number of periods, and is author of the prize-winning Seafaring in the Arabian Gulf and Oman: The People of the Dhow (Kegan Paul, 2005). His talk offers us the chance to see some of the fruits (or eggs) of a major AHRC-funded exploration at Quseir al-Qadim on the Egyptian Red Sea coast.

There will be a wine reception after the seminar.

Published in: on January 31, 2008 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Recently Published: Curth on Almanacs, Astrology, and Popular Medicine

Louise Hill Curth’s English Almanacs, Astrology & Popular Medicine, 1550 – 1700 has recently come out from Manchester University Press. 

Early modern almanacs have received relatively little academic attention over the years, despite being the first true form of British mass media. While their major purpose was to provide annual information about the movements of the stars and the corresponding effects on earth, most contained a range of other material, including advice on preventative and remedial medicine for humans and animals. Based on the most extensive study to date of the relationship between the popular press, early modern medical beliefs and practices, Louise Hill Curth argues that these cheap, annual booklets played a major role in shaping contemporary medical beliefs and practices in early modern England. Almanacs continued to disseminate and help perpetuate orthodox, traditional astrological-Galenic principles, showing few signs of the quantitative and objective medical system attributed to the late seventeenth century.

Louise Hill Curth is Senior Lecturer in Health Studies at Bath Spa University

Published in: on January 29, 2008 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture (Plymouth)

Material Readings in Early Modern Culture, 1550-1700

A Conference at the University of Plymouth, 11-12 April 2008 

This conference explores the significance of the physicality of manuscript and printed texts in the early modern period. By comprehensively focussing on the material aspects of texts as a new and valuable way of reading and decoding meaning, it aims to provide a thorough reassessment of the varied cultures of manuscript and print from the late sixteenth century through to 1700. Avowedly interdisciplinary, a central purpose of the symposium is to foster vigorous dialogues between print and manuscript studies, critical bibliography and history of the book, palaeography and diplomatics, and social and cultural history. It is intended that papers will examine a broad range of texts, both canonical and non-traditional, print and manuscript, and will treat the following key areas:

  • The material, practices and processes of textual composition and production; manuscripts, drafting and editions
  • The technologies and tools of writing
  • Interpreting the uses of paper, quills, ink, desks, presses
  • The significance of space and the design of texts; the layout of the manuscript and printed page; script and white space; type and typography; paratextual apparatus
  • The space of textual production; the social context and location of writing
  • The social signs, codes and cues inscribed within texts
  • The distribution and dissemination of texts
  • Environments of reading and reception
  • Marginalia and practices of reading
  • The material text as object or thing

The Organisers

James Daybell is Lecturer in Early Modern British History at the University of Plymouth. His publications include Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England (Oxford, 2006), two collections of essays, Women and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450-1700 (Ashgate, 2004) and Early Modern Women’s Letter Writing, 1450-1700 (Palgrave, 2001), and more than a dozen articles and essays in journals and edited collections. Dr Daybell is currently completing a monograph entitled, The Material Letter: The Practices and Culture of Letters and Letter-Writing in Early Modern England.

Peter Hinds is Lecturer in English at the University of Plymouth. His research currently focuses on the history of the book and of reading in late-seventeenth-century England. He has published several articles on Sir Roger L’Estrange (the Surveyor and Licenser of the Press during the reigns of Charles II and James II) and the London book trade. His book ‘The Horrid Popish Plot’: Roger L’Estrange and the Circulation of Political Discourse in London, 1678-83 is forthcoming with OUP

For further details please email:, or

Provisional Programme

Friday, 11 April 2008

Arrive, Registration and Coffee, 11.00am-12.00

PLENARY SPEAKER, 12.00-1.00: Professor Cedric Brown (University of Reading), ‘The Material Letter’

Break 1.00-1.15

SESSION 1, 1.15-3.15: The Material Letter

Professor Henry Woudhuysen (University College London) ‘The Early Modern Letter: Shapes and Forms’

Professor Lynne Magnusson (University of Toronto) ‘Donne and Material Letters’

Dr James Daybell (University of Plymouth), ‘Women, Politics and Domesticity: The Circulation of Lady Penelope Rich’s Letter to Elizabeth I’

Tea and Coffee, 3.15-3.30

SESSION 2, 3.30-5.00: The Material Book

Professor Mark Knights (Warwick University), ‘Hackney Poets and Hireling Pamphleteers’: Professional Authorship and the Book Trade in Late-Seventeenth-Century London’

Dr Peter Hinds (University of Plymouth), ‘Literary Authorship and the Printed Book, 1660-1700′

Tea and Coffee, 5.00-5.15

SESSION 3, 5.15-6.45: Material Manuscripts

Professor Arthur F. Marotti (Wayne State University), ‘The Personal Anthologizing of Poetry in Manuscript in Early Modern England: The Skipwith Manuscript (British Library MS Additional 25707)

Dr Jonathan Gibson (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Reading Topsy-Turvy Manuscripts’

7.00pm Wine Reception and Conference Dinner, The Barbican Kitchen

Saturday 12 April 2008

SESSION 4, 9.30-11.00: Women’s Material Manuscripts

Professor Victoria Burke (University of Ottawa, Canada), ‘Flourishes and Functionality in Women’s Late Seventeenth-Century Arithmetic Manuals’

Dr Gillian Wright (University of Birmingham), ‘Textuality, Privacy and Politics: Katherine Philips’s Poems in Manuscript and Print’

Coffee 11.00-11.30

SESSION 5, 11.30-1.00: Material Reading

Dr Maureen Bell (University of Birmingham), ‘Reading and Writing in Late Seventeenth- and Early Eighteenth-Century Derbyshire: The Manuscripts of Titus Wheatcroft (1679-1762)’

Dr Mary Ann Lund (Mansfield College, Oxford) ‘Early Modern Sermon Paratexts and the Religious Politics of Reading’

Lunch, 1.00-2.00

SESSION 6, 2.00-4.00: Material Spaces

Dr Christopher Burlinson (Emmanuel College, Cambridge) ‘The Early Modern University Manuscript Beyond the University’

Dr Gabriel Heaton (Sotheby’s), ‘Texts of the Elizabethan Tiltyard’

Dr Tracey Hill (Bath Spa University) ‘A briefe narration of each seuerall shew’: the Lord Mayor’s Show from street to print’

Tea 4.00-4.15

SESSION 7, 4.15-5.15: Material Readings: Round Table Discussion

5.00 and beyond: departure or drinks and informal dinner arrangements

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 6:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Gower Society, First International Congress, London, July 12–16, 2008

 The congress will bring together scholars working on all aspects of Gower’s work and the cultural world of Gower and Chaucer, and will feature events marking the 600th anniversary of Gower’s death.

Elliot Kendall will be presenting:

‘Saving History: Medieval Apocalyptic and Arion’s Heir’

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Chaucer Society, Sixteenth International Congress, Swansea, July 18–22, 2008

 The congress is a biennial meeting of the Society and the major specialist conference in Chaucer studies and one of the most important conferences for late medieval literature.

Elliot Kendall will be presenting a paper on:

‘Communities without buildings in medieval romance’

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

South-West Early Modernist Network

 The next presentation to the SWEM Network will take place on Monday 10th March 2008:

The speaker is Nicola Gilmore, who is in the final stages of her postgraduate studies at the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham. The title of Nicola’s paper is: “Cued Parts in English Renaissance Drama: A Case Study”

A synopsis of the presentation will be circulated nearer to the meeting.
The meeting will take place at UWE, St Matthias Campus, in the Fishponds area of Bristol. More specifically we meet in Room 9 in the Main Building (- use entrance near College Rd), starting at 6 p.m. Wine will be served after the presentation.

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Lords of Wine and Oil”: Community and Conviviality in the work of Robert Herrick and his Contemporaries.

This conference comes halfway through the process of editing The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick (Oxford UP, 2010) and will be held on July 18th-20th 2008 at Buckfast Abbey, near Herrick’s vicarage of Dean Prior, in Devon. The conference will focus on the part played by Community, Conviviality and Friendship not only in Herrick’s work, but in all forms of literary discourse of the early Stuart period (c.1600-c.1650). Discussions of writers who, due to rank, gender or conviction, cannot enter or are critical of certain communities or communal identities are also welcome.

Topics will include (but are not limited to):

* studies of individual clubs, coteries or salons and their literary output

* studies of individual writers working within such groups

* the formation, entrance criteria and exclusionary practices of these groups

* the treatment and significance of friendship

* composition and circulation of manuscript and/or print verse miscellanies

* the involvement of coteries and salons with wider political and social events

* the exploration or discussion by writers of communal identities

* competition and/or collaboration between writers

* relationships between writers, their patrons and/or their publics

* community, sociability and genre, including the country house poem and non-literary genres such as letters and sermons

* conflicts within and between communities

* the socio-cultural implications of print publication for literary communities

* verse exchanges, dedicatory poems and prefaces in print and manuscript

* relationship between orality, manuscript and print

Update 1: We are happy to announce that Professor Katharine Eisaman Maus (Virginia) and Professor Leah Marcus (Vanderbilt) will be our keynote speakers.

Update 2: We are both grateful for and pleased to acknowledge the support of Herrick’s old college, St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the Department of English at the University of Exeter.

Update 3: With the support of the Society for Renaissance Studies, we are now able to offer bursaries to postgraduate speakers at this conference, for whom we intend to establish an individual panel. Those postgraduates who have already sent in their proposals will automatically be considered for a bursary but if you are planning to send in a proposal, please indicate whether you are interested in obtaining one of the bursaries. We are very grateful for the generous support of the SRS, which allows us to offer this option.

Update 4: Part of the conference will be a panel specifically concerned with manuscript work, which is sponsored by the Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (AMARC) and we thank them for their interest and support.

For further information, write to Dr Ruth Connolly, School of English, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU or email:

View the Herrick Project website at:

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Call for Papers: Land, Landscape and Environment, 1500-1750

Reading University,  14  to 16 July, 2008

Current debates over the environment – and in particular over the exploitation or management of natural resources – find their origin in early modern discourses of mastery and stewardship. Man’s right and responsibility to exploit the Earth were confidently asserted. To what extent, though, were those who made their living from the countryside, and those who wrote about it, ambivalent about landscape change in the name of progress and improvement, whether in England, Scotland, Ireland, Europe, or in the American colonies? In what ways did land, landscape and environment give rise to struggles between the promoters and beneficiaries of agrarian capitalism and its victims? How did representations of land and environment develop in this period? What connections can we draw between literary and visual depictions of land and environment – whether as map, image, or text – and these ideas of mastery and control? And what does the recent turn towards ‘green politics’ in early modern literary studies suggest about the usefulness of twenty-first century political imperatives for an interrogation of the early modern past?  

Papers are invited on the following areas: plantation and colonisation as civilising process; agrarian capitalism and sustainable agriculture in theory and practice; topography and poetry, pastoral and georgic, the chorographical and country-house poem; enclosure, disafforestation and drainage: their advocates, opponents, practice and consequences; law, property rights and tenure; husbandry and husbandry manuals; the country house and its landscapes; horticulture and gardens; rivers; writing the land; artistic representations of landscape; cartography, maps and signs; the country and the city; parks; urban pastoral; travel, travel-writing, walking tours and sight-seeing. 

Proposals (max. 300 words) for 30 minute papers and a brief CV should be sent via email attachment by 1 February 2008 to Dr. Adam Smyth, School of English and American Literature, University of Reading,

Published in: on January 28, 2008 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Cardiff Renaissance Seminars

The spring programme for the newly-launched Cardiff Renaissance Seminar.  All seminars will begin at 5:15pm in Humanities Building, Room 0.31, Cardiff University. 

7th February Professor Richard Wilson, Cardiff

      ‘Shakespeare in Hate: Performing the Virgin Queen’ 

14th February  Professor J. Gwynfor Jones, Cardiff

      ‘The Strange Case of William Parry, Elizabethan Double Agent’

6th March Dr Philip Schwyzer, Exeter

     ‘Shakespeare and the Remains of Richard III’ 

27th March  Dr Jonathan Durrant, Glamorgan

     ‘Soldiers, Religion and Nationality in the Thirty Years’ War’ 

1st May  Professor Catherine Belsey, Swansea

     ‘Shakespeare and the Myth of Venus’ 

11th June  Dr Andy Wood, UEA

     ‘Custom and Conflict in Early Modern England’

Published in: on January 24, 2008 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment