Cursed be he that moves my bones … but what about the altar rail?

The BBC reports from the Church of Holy Trinity, Stratford, that plans are once again afoot to move Shakespeare’s grave … or rather … not to move it.

What makes the Shakespeare’s-Grave-Staying-Right-Where-It-Is story interesting, of course, is the possible impact on planning decisions of the curse inscribed on the playwright’s slab:

     Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,

     To digg the dust encloased heare;

     Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,

     And curst be he that moves my bones

Was Shakespeare the author of his own epitaph?  Is there a link between these words and the anxieties over exhumation and the mistreatment of corpses found in so many of his plays? 

Shakespearean biographies and editions often skirt the question of authorship by asserting that the epitaph is conventional and formulaic — something that any local versifier could have composed.  Yet no one seems to have been able to produce a remotely similar tomb inscription in support of the claim that Shakespeare’s is conventional. 

Perhaps, then, it is time for the first Cuppe of Newes Challenge.  Can anyone supply an English tomb inscription from 50 years either side of Shakespeare’s death which resembles the one in Holy Trinity Stratford?  Can anyone find an inscription which:

1) makes no reference to the soul of the deceased but dwells entirely on the fate of his physical remains;

2) contains the threat of a curse, not against vandals or church-robbers, but against a church official (the sexton) in pursuit of his normal duties?

Either of the above would be interesting.  Both together will result in some sort of prize.  Answers in the comments section below!

Published in: on May 29, 2008 at 8:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Renaissance Reading Group (UPDATED)

The next meeting of Exeter’s Renaissance Reading Group will be held on Thursday, 5th June at 1pm in the Queen’s Building SCR.

Following on from the last meeting, the Group will be discussing cantos 3 and 4 of Joseph Beaumont’s Psyche. Copies will shortly be available from outside Karen Edwards’ office in Queen’s (the text is also accessible through EEBO).

UPDATE: Not only will copies (actual, photocopied, stapled copies) of Cantos 3 and 4 be available outside Karen’s office.  So, too, will copies of Cantos 1 and 2 for those who wish to do a little catching up with Beaumont.

Published in: on May 27, 2008 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

CFP: Interrogating Women’s Dramatic Writing 1600-1830 (5.9.08) Surrey

Her Make is Perfect:

A seminar interrogating women’s dramatic writing, text and performance (1600-1830).

Friday 5th September at Chawton House Library and Saturday 6th September at the University of Surrey.

Keynote speakers: Professor Alison Findlay, Professor Fiona Ritchie and Professor Gweno Williams.

For further conference details see the conference website.

Published in: on May 27, 2008 at 8:24 am  Leave a Comment  

How can anyone sit at the head of a round table? A Caroline illustrator squares the circle

You can just see him chewing his pen in puzzlement for hours, and then … Eureka!!

 The king, of course, is completely trapped.


Published in: on May 23, 2008 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Today: Jane Taylor on “Hungrie Shadows”

Jane Taylor, Professor of Medieval French Literature and Principal of Collingwood College, Durham University will speak today, Tuesday 20th May, as part of the Exeter Centre for Medieval Studies’ Research Seminar programme, and as an invited speaker of the Department of Modern Languages. Professor Taylor’s talk is entitled:

‘”Hungrie Shadows”: what became of Chrétien de Troyes in the Renaissance?’

Her focus will be the translator Pierre Sala, who translated Chrétien de Troyes in the 1500s, and will encompass translation and Arthuriana in the Renaissance.

The seminar will take place at 4pm in room E, Queen’s Building. This is a change from the originally advertised room.

The paper will be followed by a wine reception in Queen’s SCR at 5-ish, sponsored by DML.

Funny Business at Leicester

For afficionados of “Cavalier Scatology” (and general early modern merriment):

Details of an upcoming conference on English Renaissance Humour are now online. The July conference is sponsored by the Society for Renaissance Studies and the School of English and the Early-Modern Seminar, University of Leicester.


Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Holinshed Project website

The website of The Holinshed Project is up and running. A new link has been added on the right. The site contains an extensive bibliography which many people will find useful in teaching or researching “this exceptionally important and unfairly neglected book.”

Exeter-based contributors to the Holinshed Project include Julia Crick (History), Elliot Kendall (English), and Philip Schwyzer (English).

Published in: on May 19, 2008 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

CFP: Early Modern Women and Material Culture (journal)

First seen (as so often) on Adam Smyth’s Renaissance Lit site.  Further evidence of the rise of the “New Antiquarianism”…?

Forum II: Early Modern Women and Material Culture

Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal (EMWJ) invites submissions
to an interdisciplinary Forum, Early Modern Women and Material Culture, slated for
publication in Volume IV (2009). Contributors to the forum will explore the nature of the
material culture of early modern women and girls from different socioeconomic levels
and from regions across the globe. Which objects–garments, manuscripts, jewelry, toys,
housewares, tools, furniture, and musical instruments–did they own or use? How did
such objects construct identity, strengthen social ties, teach social or economic roles, or
perform other cultural functions? What objects were commonly associated with women
and girls? What unusual objects did they own or use? Were specific objects associated
with certain times in a woman’s life, certain places, or particular rituals? What values,
ideas, and assumptions were linked to the material culture of women and girls?
Submissions may also address how men and women might view the same material
objects differently, how they were branded for gender, and how they were used to
mediate between men and women.

Submissions should be 1300 words in length (plus footnotes). Building on such
recent exhibitions as the Victoria and Albert Museum’s At Home in Renaissance Italy
(2006) and on such recent books as Jacqueline Musacchio’s Art and Ritual of Childbirth
in Renaissance
Italy (1999) and Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass’s Renaissance
Clothing and the Materials of Memory
(2001), contributions may focus on a single object
or group of objects that still exist, or on references to objects in images, literary texts, or
archival documents. Submissions that explore a range of socioeconomic groups and
regions across the globe are especially welcome.

The deadline for forum submissions is *October 31, 2008.*
Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Jouranl
Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies
Taliaferro Hall 0139
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-7727 USA, mailto:

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Next Renaissance Reading Group: Beaumont’s Psyche

The next meeting of the Renaissance Reading Group will take place on Thursday, 15 May at 1.00 in the Queen’s SCR. We’ll be reading the first two cantos of Joseph Beaumont’s poem Psyche (1648). Copies are available outside Karen Edward’s office (in the red folder).

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Today: Mukherjee on Elizabethan Dearth Science [UPDATE: CANCELLATION]

UPDATE: The talk advertised below has been cancelled due to train delays.  It will hopefully be rescheduled.


At 2pm on Friday 9 May, Dr Ayesha Mukherjee will give a talk entitled  “‘Penury into Plenty’: Sir Hugh Platt and Elizabethan Dearth Science.”

Dr. Mukherjee will be speaking on the Cornwall campus in Seminar W, Tremough House.  The talk will be videolinked to Newman A on the Streatham Campus.