Recently published: Shakespeare and Wales

Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly, edited by Willy Maley and Philip Schwyzer has recently been published by Ashgate.

Shakespeare and Wales offers ‘a Welsh correction’ to a long-standing deficiency. It explores the place of Wales in Shakespeare’s drama and in Shakespeare criticism, covering ground from the absorption of Wales into the Tudor state in 1536 to Shakespeare on the Welsh stage in the twenty-first century. Shakespeare’s major Welsh characters, Fluellen and Glendower, feature prominently, but the Welsh dimension of the histories as a whole, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, and “Cymbeline” also come in for examination. The volume also explores the place of Welsh-identified contemporaries of Shakespeare such as Thomas Churchyard and John Dee, and English writers with pronounced Welsh interests such as Spenser, Drayton and Dekker. This volume brings together experts in the field from both sides of the Atlantic, including leading practitioners of British Studies, in order to establish a detailed historical context that illustrates the range and richness of Shakespeare’s Welsh sources and resources, and confirms the degree to which Shakespeare continues to impact upon Welsh culture and identity even as the process of devolution in Wales serves to shake the foundations of Shakespeare’s status as an unproblematic English or British dramatist.

The publication of the book will be celebrated with a symposium at Cardiff University on 23 April 2010 (see post below).


Shakespeare and Wales: Symposium and Book Launch at Cardiff, 23/4

Shakespeare and Wales: Public Lecture and Symposium

Friday April 23rd, 2010

The afternoon will include a lecture by the award winning theatre director, Michael Bogdanov, and a symposium led by scholars from around the world. The event is spurred by the publication of Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly (see post above).

Wallace Lecture Theatre, Main Building

12pm Public Lecture:

Michael Bogdanov, “The Welsh in Shakespeare”

2.30-6pm Symposium: “Shakespeare and Wales”

Participants include:

David Baker (North Carolina)

Michael Bogdanov (Theatre/Film Director)

Martin Coyle (Cardiff)

Dominique Goy-Blanquet (Picardie)

Katie Gramich (Cardiff)

Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam)

Chris Ivic (Bath Spa)

Margaret Jones-Davies (Sorbonne)

Willy Maley (Glasgow)

Stewart Mottram (Aberystwyth)

Philip Schwyzer (Exeter)

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton (Neuchâtel)

Richard Wilson (Cardiff)

Generously supported by Cardiff University’s School of English, Communication and Philosophy, and by Ashgate Press.

Admission is free, but please register your interest in attending by sending an email to or by telephone on 029 2087 6049. The event will take place in Cardiff University’s Main Building, opposite the Students’ Union on Park Place, CF10 3AT.

Recently Published: McRae on Domestic Travel

Andrew McRae’s Literature and Domestic Travel in Early Modern England appeared in October 2009 from Cambridge University Press. 

In the early modern period, the population of England travelled more than is often now thought, by road and by water: from members of the gentry travelling for pleasure, through the activities of those involved in internal trade, to labourers migrating out of necessity. Yet the commonly held view that people should know their places, geographically as well as socially, made domestic travel highly controversial. Andrew McRae examines the meanings of mobility in the early modern period, drawing on sources from canonical literature and travel narratives to a range of historical documents including maps and travel guides. He identifies the relationship between domestic travel and the emergence of vital new models of nationhood and identity. An original contribution to the study of early modern literature as well as travel literature, this interdisciplinary book opens up domestic travel as a vital and previously underexplored area of research.

Andrew McRae is Professor of English at the University of Exeter.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out This Month: The Oxford Handbook of Milton

The Oxford Handbook of Milton, edited by Nicholas McDowell (Exeter) and Nigel Smith (Princeton), will be published later this month. 

Four hundred years after his birth, John Milton remains one of the greatest and most controversial figures in English literature. The Oxford Handbook of Milton is a comprehensive guide to the state of Milton studies in the early twenty-first century, bringing together an international team of thirty-five leading scholars in one volume. The rise of critical interest in Milton’s political and religious ideas is the most striking aspect of Milton studies in recent times, a consequence in great part of the increasingly fluid relations between literary and historical study. The Oxford Handbook both embodies the interest in Milton’s political and religious contexts in the last generation and seeks to inaugurate a new phase in Milton studies through closer integration of the poetry and prose. There are eight essays on various aspects of Paradise Lost, ranging from its classical background and poetic form to its heretical theology and representation of God. There are sections devoted both to the shorter poems, including ‘Lycidas’ and Comus, and the final poems, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. There are also three sections on Milton’s prose: the early controversial works on church government, divorce, and toleration, including Areopagitica; the regicide and republican prose of 1649-1660, the period during which he served as the chief propagandist for the English Commonwealth and Cromwell’s Protectorate, and the various writings on education, history, and theology. The opening essays explore what we know about Milton’s biography and what it might tell us; the final essays offer interpretations of aspects of Milton’s massive influence on later writers, including the Romantic poets.

Further information on the Oxford University Press website.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out next week: McDowell’s Poetry and Allegiance in the English Civil Wars

Nicholas McDowell’s book, Poetry and Allegiance in the English Civil Wars: Marvell and the Cause of Wit will be published in November by Oxford University Press.

This book is about the things which could unite, rather than divide, poets during the English Civil Wars: friendship, patronage relations, literary admiration, and anti-clericalism. The central figure is Andrew Marvell, renowned for his ‘ambivalent’ allegiance in the late 1640s. Little is known about Marvell’s associations in this period, when many of his best-known lyrics were composed. The London literary circle which formed in 1647 under the patronage of the wealthy royalist Thomas Stanley included ‘Cavalier’ friends of Marvell such as Richard Lovelace but also John Hall, a Parliamentarian propagandist inspired by reading Milton. Marvell is placed in the context of Stanley’s impressive circle of friends and their efforts to develop English lyric capability in the absence of traditional court patronage. By recovering the cultural values that were shared by Marvell and the like-minded men with whom he moved in the literary circles of post-war London, we are more likely to find the reasons for their decisions about political allegiance. By focusing on a circle of friends and associates we can also get a sense of how they communicated with and influenced one another through their verse. There are innovative readings of Milton’s sonnets and Lovelace’s lyric verse, while new light is shed on the origins and audience not only of Marvell’s early political poems, including the ‘Horatian Ode’, but lyrics such as ‘To His Coy Mistress’.

Nicholas McDowell is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, University of Exeter.

Published in: on October 27, 2008 at 10:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Recently Published: Shakespeare and War

Shakespeare and War, a collection of essays edited by Ros King (Southampton) and Paul Franssen (Utrecht) has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. It comprises essays on sixteenth-century ideas about warfare, Shakespearean dramaturgy, and performances of Shakespeare during times of war in Germany and Denmark, including first hand accounts of Shakespeare during the recent war in Bosnia/Yugoslavia, and cold-war Romania. Contributors from the west of the UK include King, Simon Barker (Gloucestershire) and R. Scott Fraser(UWE), as well as Helen Wilcox (Bangor), but there are essays from US, Australia and numerous countries in Europe.

Published in: on October 20, 2008 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Recently Published: Edwards’ “Early Modern Bestiary,” M-O

The May 2008 issue of Milton Quarterly (42:2) is devoted to the latest instalment of Karen Edwards’ Milton’s Reformed Animals: An Early Mdern BestiaryDenizens of this issue, covering the letters M-O, include the Mouse, the Mongrel, the Nightingale, and the shadowy Ounce.  (Seen gamboling before Adam and Eve in Eden, the ounce was sometimes identified with lynxes, sometimes with panthers — for Milton, Edwards suggests, the term was “an intensifier of felineness rather than … an individuated animal.”)

There is no image of the Ounce, but beasts including the Mole, Morse [walrus], Ostrich, Night-Raven, and Owl feature among the excellent illustrations.

Karen Edwards is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, University of Exeter.

Published in: on October 15, 2008 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out next week: Dawson on Lovesickness and Gender

Lesel Dawson’s Lovesickness and Gender in Early Modern English Literature is to be published next week by Oxford University Press.

In early modern medical texts, intense unfulfilled erotic desire is held to be a real and virulent disease: it is classified as a species of melancholy, with physical etiologies and cures. Lesel Dawson analyzes literary representations of lovesickness in relation to medical ideas about desire and wider questions about gender and identity, exploring the different ways that desire is believed to take root in the body, how gender roles are encoded and contested in courtship, and the psychic pains and pleasures of frustrated passion. She explores the relationship between women’s lovesickness and other female maladies (such as hysteria and greensickness), and asks whether women can suffer from intellectual forms of melancholy generally thought to be exclusively male. Finally, she examines the ways in which Neoplatonism offers an alternative construction of love to that found in natural philosophy and considers how anxieties concerning love’s ability to emasculate the male lover emerge indirectly in remedies for lovesickness.

With reference to the works of Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, Middleton, Ford, and Davenant, Lovesickness and Gender in Early Modern English Literature investigates how early modern representations of lovesickness expose contemporary cultural constructions of love, revealing the relation of sexuality to spirituality and the creation and shattering of the impassioned subject. It offers an important contribution to the history of romantic love and will be of interest to students and scholars of literature, gender, and medical history.

Introduction: Sweet Poison
1. ‘My Love is as a Fever’: Medical Constructions of Desire in Early Modern England
2. ‘A Thirsty Womb’: Lovesickness, Green Sickness, Hysteria, and Uterine Fury
3. Beyond Ophelia: The Anatomy of Female Melancholy
4. Lovesickness and Neoplatonism
5. ‘Griefs Will Have their Vent’: Physical and Psychological Remedies for Lovesickness
6. Menstruation, Misogyny, and the Cure for Love

Lesel Dawson is Senior Lecturer in English, University of Bristol

Published in: on September 2, 2008 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out this week: Elliot Kendall’s “Lordship and Literature”

Elliot Kendall’s Lordship and Literature: John Gower and the Politics of the Great Household is to be published this week by Oxford University Press. 

A ground-breaking approach to the politics of late medieval texts, Lordship and Literature investigates the importance of the great household to late fourteenth-century English culture and society. A sustained new reading of John Gower’s major English poem, Confessio Amantis, shows how deeply the great household informed the way Gower and his contemporaries imagined their world. Exploring royal government and gentry ambitions, this thoroughly interdisciplinary book views the period’s politics and literature in terms of a household-based economy of power.

The great household rode immense political shockwaves in the late fourteenth century, when royal aggrandizement and economic crisis in the wake of the Black Death challenged dominant modes of aristocratic power. Lordship and Literature examines responses to these challenges, analysing texts including the Appeal of the Merciless Parliament, imagination of lordly power by Chaucer, Gower, and Clanvowe, and parliamentary controversy over livery and justice. The economics of power – described by thinkers such as Pierre Bourdieu and Marcel Mauss – spans Ricardian political and literary culture, informing elite politics and love allegory alike. Competing models of household politics, and their literary force, are revealed here in wide-ranging interpretations of exchange (of women, hospitality, livery, loyalty, retribution) in Gower’s complex and influential poem. Lordship and Literature locates Confessio Amantis firmly in its historical moment, arguing that the poem belongs to a powerful yet embattled aristocratic politics.

Elliot Kendall is Lecturer in Medieval Literature, University of Exeter

Published in: on May 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out this month: Wild on Christopher Smart’s ‘Mary Midnight’

Announcing the publication by Ashgate of Min Wild’s Christopher Smart and Satire: Mary Midnight and the Midwife

Christopher Smart and Satire explores the lively and idiosyncratic world of satire in the eighteenth-century periodical, focusing on the way that writers adopted personae to engage with debates taking place during the British Enlightenment. Taking Christopher Smart’s audacious and hitherto underexplored Midwife, or Old Woman’s Magazine (1750-1753) as her primary source, Min Wild provides a rich examination of the prizewinning Cambridge poet’s adoption of the bizarre, sardonic ‘Mary Midnight’ as his alter-ego. Her analysis provides insights into the difficult position in which eighteenth-century writers were placed, as ideas regarding the nature and functions of authorship were gradually being transformed. At the same time, Wild also demonstrates that Smart’s use of ‘Mary Midnight’ is part of a tradition of learned wit, having an established history and characterized by identifiable satirical and rhetorical techniques.

Wild’s engagement with her exuberant source materials establishes the skill and ingenuity of Smart’s often undervalued, multilayered prose satire. As she explores Smart’s use of a peculiarly female voice, Wild offers us a picture of an ingenious and ribald wit whose satirical overview of society explores, overturns, and anatomises questions of gender, politics, and scientific and literary endeavors.

Introduction; Personal identity and personae in the 18th-century periodical; ‘The jakes of genius’: the nature of the Midwife; A ‘terrible old lady’: the persona of ‘Mary Midnight’; ‘A perfect Swiss in writing’: literature and authorship in the Midwife; ‘Inwardly working a stirre to the mynde’: political satire in the Midwife; The ‘kind juggler’: social satire and enlightenment in the Midwife; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

‘Min Wild’s adroit and witty scholarship is a revelation. Her analysis of identity, satire, politics, and gender in The Midwife, Christopher Smart’s explosive monthly magazine of 1750-53, makes for a compelling case study of commercial authorship and imaginative disruption in eighteenth-century print culture, and brilliantly dispels the assumption that journalism and satire stagnated after the fall of Walpole. Wild adds a major new dimension to our understanding of Smart: not only, as Donald Davie famously proposed, “the greatest English poet between Pope and Wordsworth”, but also one of the most creative, and creatively subversive, journalists in the new age of periodical print’.
Thomas Keymer, University of Toronto, Canada

Min Wild is based in the Department of Humanities at the University of Exeter, UK.

Published in: on March 2, 2008 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment