Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Libelous History of England, c. 1570-1688

A Folger Institute Spring Semester Seminar directed by Alastair Bellany

The history of libels–bitter, satirical, defamatory and sometimes obscene texts, in prose or verse, sung or chanted, illicitly printed or circulated in handwritten copies–offers a unique window on the political and literary culture of early modern England. Employing a multi-disciplinary perspective that approaches political history as cultural history, this seminar will explore the various meanings of libelous political discourse from the late Elizabethan era to the Glorious Revolution. Working with the Folger’s rich collections of printed books, news diaries and poetry miscellanies, and making use of the concurrent Folger exhibition on the culture of news in early modern England, participants will explore libels from two broad perspectives: as forms of political media, circulating in the early modern literary underground that constituted a crucial element of the emergent political public sphere; and as dynamic and complex political representations of monarchs and ministers, parliaments and policies, that reveal many of the ideological fissures and tensions that shaped the turbulent history of late Tudor and Stuart England.

Director: Alastair Bellany is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University. Author of The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair, 1603-1666 (2002), he is also the editor of Early Stuart Libels: An Edition of Poetry from Manuscript Sources (2005, with Andrew McRae).

Schedule: Fridays, 1 – 4:30 p.m., 23 January through 3 April 2009, except 27 February.

Applications Due: 2 September 2008 for admission (and grants-in-aid for Folger Institute consortium affiliates); 5 January 2009 for admission only. Please visit for more information, and contact with any questions.


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