Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Milton: alive and well and in Manchester

University of Manchester English and American Studies undergraduates, postgraduates, staff and friends will be undertaking to read aloud the entirety of John Milton’s Paradise Lost on 10 December (the day after the poet’s 402nd birthday). The poem consists of well over 10,000 lines of verse and the entire marathon will take around 12 hours of continual reading. This epic reading is to raise money for the RNIB (Milton became totally blind aged 46 and dictated the entirety of the poem). If you would like to sponsor us, please do:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book Destruction

Call For Papers for a Conference at Senate House, University of London
16 April 2011

Much attention has been given in recent years to the book as a material, historical object and its possible technological obsolescence in the era of digitization. Such reflections have tended to concentrate on the production and cultural circulation of books, their significance and their power to shape knowledge and subjectivities. But there is another aspect to our interactions with the book which remains relatively unexplored: the history of book destruction. In certain circumstances books are treated not with reverence but instead with violence or disregard. This conference invites reflections on this alternative history of the book, and we welcome papers from a range of historical periods and disciplinary backgrounds. We welcome proposals from postgraduate students, as well as from more established academics.

Why do people destroy books? What are the mechanics of book destruction: the burning, pulping, defacing, tearing, drowning, cutting, burying, eating? What are the cultural meanings that have been attached to book destruction, and what do they reveal about our investments in this over-familiar object? Why should the burning of books have such symbolic potency? Book destruction is often invoked as a symbol of oppressive, despotic regimes; what is our ethical position, now, in relation to such acts? What is the relationship between book destruction and other forms of cutting up (quotation; collage)? When do acts of destruction become moments of creativity? How does destruction relate to recycling and reuse? Do transitions in media (manuscript to print; print to digital) threaten those older forms? How might the current phase of digitization and the gradual disappearance of library stock relate to prior moments of destruction? In the internet age, is it still possible to destroy (that is, completely erase) a text? What does materiality mean in a digital age?

Please send 300-word proposals (for a 20 minute paper) and a brief CV, to
Dr Gill Partington ( and Dr Adam Smyth (, by 10 January 2011.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Call for Papers: Why Allegory Now?

A One-Day Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Manchester, Friday April 1st 2011

Confirmed plenary speakers:
Professor Jeremy Tambling, English and American Studies, University of Manchester
Dr. Roger Pooley, English Literature, Keele University

The University of Manchester invites scholars and early researchers to submit papers for the conference ‘Why Allegory Now?’, an interdisciplinary event which will allow a forum of discussion on the disparate ways in which allegory has been used throughout history, and consider how such an elusive yet prominent form can be interpreted today.

The conference asks: What is allegory and why is it relevant today? Can allegory be best understood as a genre, a technique, a mode, a rhetorical device or a trope? Is allegory the practice of writing, interpreting or representing? Can allegory only be understood in relation to its history? Is all allegory ideological? Is all language allegorical?

From early Greek examples, such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, through to Renaissance poetry, Orwell’s Animal Farm and The Matrix trilogy, allegories have been used by philosophers, theologians, artists and authors to express complex ideas in simplified and universal terms. Despite Maureen Quilligan’s suggestion that ‘the status of allegory has been low since the early nineteenth century’ (Quilligan, 1992), it underpins many aspects of modern life, as Brenda Machosky points out: ‘embedded in museum displays, providing structure for scientific thought, underlying the legal system, evading the hegemony of the idea, allegory is thriving in the twenty-first century’ (Machosky, ed., 2010). Machosky’s argument is potent given the number of recent studies on the topic (Machosky, ed., 2010; Tambling, 2004 and 2010; Struck and Copeland, eds., 2010), which have served to renew interest in the various forms and uses of allegory across the arts, humanities and languages. As such, this event will consider allegory in fictional and non-fictional literature, film, art, history, religion and cultural theory.

We warmly invite proposals for twenty minute papers from postgraduates and early career researchers from any branch of arts and humanities. Key topics may include (but are not limited to):
• Myths and fables from Ancient Greece to modern film
• National allegories in colonial and postcolonial contexts
• Medieval and Renaissance secular or religious allegories
• Allegorical concepts of history
• Theories of allegory and allegoresis
• Sign, symbol, emblem and allegory

Please send your abstract of 250-300 words to along with your name, affiliation and title of paper.

The deadline for submissions is Monday January 3rd 2011. Acknowledgement of receipt of proposal will be sent. Selection of papers will be done by Monday January 24th 2011.

We are also delighted to offer two bursaries of £100 which will be awarded to postgraduate speakers on any Renaissance-related topics courtesy of the Society for Renaissance Studies,

If you have any questions regarding the conference and/or proposal, please direct all enquiries to Jade Munslow Ong and Matthew Whittle at Registration will open from January 31st 2011.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seminars in Early Modern Preaching: King David

6 November 2010, Old Whiteknights House, University of Reading

11.00-11.30 Registration and Welcome

11.30-13.00 Panel 1: King David and Exemplary Penance

Chair: Dr Mary Morrissey (University of Reading)

‘with one worde spekynge his herte was chaunged’: John Fisher on the penitence of King David and King Henry VII
Dr Cecilia Hatt (University of Oxford)

King David as a model for Penitence: Hildersham on Psalm 51 and Psalm 35
Dr Lesley Rowe (University of Warwick)

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Panel 2: John Donne

Chair: Dr Hugh Adlington (University of Birmingham)

Reading King David at Lincoln’s Inn: Donne’s Sermon Series on Psalm 38
Dr. Emma Rhatigan (University of Sheffield)

King David in John Donne’s Psalm 32 sermon series
Dr Mary Ann Lund (University of Leicester)

15.30-16.00 Tea/Coffee

16.00-17.30 Panel 3: King David and the Politics of Kingship
Chair: Mary Anne Lund (University of Leicester)

King David and the Restoration 1660-1685
Dr David Appleby (University of Nottingham)

‘Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son’:
William Laud’s Accession Day sermon, 1631.
Professor Alan Cromartie (University of Reading)

17.30 Closing Remarks

A registration fee of £10 includes colloquium fee, morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon tea. Please book by Friday 29 October. For details of registration, travel and further information, please email Dr Mary Morrissey ( or Dr Hugh Adlington (

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Feeling Objects: a reading group at Birkbeck, London

Feeling Objects is an informal reading group that aims to consider how we might think about, describe, categorise, and respond to objects. We’re particularly interested in considering the relationship between subject and object; in the sense of delight that objects sometimes induce, and ways in which this delight might be critically useful; and about the idea of objects having agency in the world.

The reading group will, we hope, be made up of both students and staff from Birkbeck and other institutions, drawn from a range of disciplines and periods. We aim to meet twice a term, on Fridays, from 6-8pm. Readings for each meeting will be short: they shouldn’t take much more than an hour. We’ll generally read several short excerpts, rather than longer single works: a mix of the critical, the literary, the visual, the polemical, and whatever else we think looks compelling. We’ve mapped out the themes for the first four meetings, but after that we’d like to see where the group wants to take things.

Details and readings:

Sunday, October 10, 2010


A series of research seminars, which are freely open for anyone to attend, has been organized by the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Venue: Senate House, Malet St., London WC1E 7HU.
Meetings will take place monthly during term-time on Tuesdays at 5.30 p.m.. Most meetings will take place in Room G 37, Senate House, except those on 2 November, 5 April and 5 July (indicated below).

Seminar convenors: Giles Mandelbrote (Lambeth Palace Library); Dr. Keith A. Manley (The National Trust / Institute of Historical Research); Professor Simon Eliot (Institute of English Studies); Professor Isabel Rivers (Queen Mary); Professor Henry Woudhuysen (University College, London).

The seminars are jointly sponsored by the Institute of English Studies, the Institute of Historical Research, and the Library & Information History Group of CILIP.


October 12 Dr. Nigel Ramsay (University College, London): `Libraries for schools, hospitals and the professions in medieval and Tudor England'.

What sort of libraries were there in medieval and Tudor England, apart from those of the monastic houses and the Crown? What sort of access to books was offered by institutions to the laity, in towns or even in the countryside? The scale on which libraries were set up in
hospitals and schools and by the legal, medical and other professions demonstrates an unsuspected enthusiasm for library-creation among the laity and secular clergy.

Teaching Civil War Writings in the Literature Classroom

A one-day symposium organised by the English Subject Centre, held at the
University of York, 3 March 2011

Programme Enquiries and Registration:


Involvement of all kinds welcomed: Please register interest or offers of
participation to Kevin Killeen

Literature courses in the Renaissance and Restoration have long had
covering the period of the civil war, so obviously central to the events
the period, but equally so traumatic that it did not lend itself to the
production of texts that have habitually made it into the English Canon.
Traditionally, the period has been represented, or perhaps misrepresented
by the 'Cavalier Poets' or Browne's Religio Medici and, on the other side
of the regicide and restoration, by Marvell and onto Milton, leaving a
yawning gulf around the most important events of the era. Changes over
recent decades in canon, methodology and political perspectives have
altered the shape of English literature in many respects, but have not, in

general, provided new possibilities for teaching the civil war. This free
one-day symposium will aim to explore how this might be changed. It will
invite ideas on teaching texts that are not specifically 'literary' and
what are the parameters of the literature class, what is the role of the
historical in literature when it is not, specifically, being deployed as
'context' to explicate texts and how do we help students use the writing
the period to think conceptually about the nature of literature and its
relation to politics or religion. The event will consider problems of
periodisation, thinking through continuities and disjunctions with the
Restoration; the nature of disciplinary boundaries in the era - how, for
example, should a central philosophical text like Hobbes' Leviathan
function in the literature class? - and the evident ruptures in terms of
who wrote and published in the period, with its mushrooming of
by women, its anti-authoritarian and radical texts and its changing
of writing, in the emergence of pamphlet literature. The use of new social

media in teaching the texts of the civil war will also be a key topic of
the day. The event is premised on the idea that research into the civil
over the past two decades or so has outstripped and fallen radically out
kilter with the literature class. Much excellent historiography and
recuperation of texts (on for example women's writing, leveller thought,
pamphlet writing, drama of the civil war) has been produced over this
period, but this has evidently not been accommodated into teaching, in
because of the non-canonical and occasionally non-accessible nature of
material, but more centrally, the session will presume, owing to a lack of

a conceptual framework for teaching this material. The questions around
this, which the event will address, may be aesthetic (in what sense are
these texts worth teaching?), methodological (will such teaching be
primarily history with a smattering of literary texts?), pedagogic (how
will students respond to this material?) or may revolve around coherence
(is the disparate nature of these texts, generically speaking, such that a

coherent approach eludes the potential teacher?). We will consider a
of ways of enabling students to conceive of the era outside of comparative

genre-based notions of literature - material objects and the literary
apocalypse and literary style; the breakdown of censorship and the nature
of dissent; war and genre - to circumvent what might be perceived as a
of a strong central canon. We will also ask participants to 'donate'
in advance, which we hope to collate as a teaching resource for those
attending the seminar.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges

Seminar series, Autumn term 2010

Wednesdays at 4.30pm, Foster Court 243
For maps and directions, please see and use the Route Finder

20th October: France and England: Medieval to Early Modern
Jane Gilbert (UCL, French), French sans frontières? Translation and Translatio in the 15th Century
Ardis Butterfield (UCL, English), 'Our self-stranger Nation': England, France and period boundaries
Paul Davis (UCL, English), Rochester's French

8th December: Renaissance Virtues: Privation and Manipulation
Quentin Skinner (Queen Mary, History), Machiavelli and the Manipulation of Virtue
Angus Gowland (UCL, History), European Melancholy
Jeremy Robbins (Edinburgh, Spanish), The Place of Virtue in Baltasar Gracián's Aphorism

15th December: History of the Book
William Sherman (York, English), Mapping the World of Knowledge: Hernando Colon and the Biblioteca Colombina
Henry Woudhuysen (UCL, English), Continental Books in late 16th- and 17th-century England: Gabriel Harvey and Ben Jonson

All welcome. For more information, see, or contact Helen Hackett ( or Alexander Samson (

"Publishing before Print: How Jean Gerson Reached a Massive Market of Readers Before Gutenberg"

Monday, October 4 at Penn

History of Material Texts seminar


5:15 PM

Van Pelt Library, 2nd floor, Martin and Margy Meyerson Conference Room
(diagonally across from the elevator bank), University of Pennsylvania
Contact: Scott Enderle


Saturday, October 9, at Yale

The 2010 New England Renaissance Conference

The day will involve two panel discussions with distinguished speakers
from several disciplines (History, English, French, History of Art,
History of Science); breakout sessions in Yale museums; and a keynote
address by Juliet Fleming (English, NYU).
More details about the event will be posted in due time on the
NERC website (

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The London Shakespeare Centre ...

... at King’s has just launched a new website which includes events listings, news and MA/PhD programmes.

It's here:

Post at Kings

Research Associate:'Monumental Shakespeares: A Transcultural
Investigation of of commemoration in twentieth-century Australia and

Department of English, King's College London

The College seeks to appoint a Research Associate to work on an
Australian Research Council-funded research project entitled 'Monumental
Shakespeares: A Transcultural Investigation of of commemoration in
twentieth-century Australia and Britain', held jointly by Professor
Gordon McMullan (King's) and Professor Philip Mead (University of
Western Australia), under the direction of Professor McMullan. The
Research Associate will undertake research in the National Theatre
Archive and elsewhere into the commemoration of Shakespeare in the
twentieth century - focusing primarily on the Shakespeare Tercentenary
in 1916 and its impact - and will work with the two Co-Investigators and
a Sydney-based Research Associate to produce outcomes that will include
a research paper (perhaps collaborative with Prof McMullan), two
colloquia and a database. The Research Associate will be required to
report to and to attend regular meetings with Professor McMullan and
work with Professor McMullan and, as appropriate, Professor Mead and the
Australia-based Research Associate.

Applicants should have a PhD in English or a related subject and will
demonstrate prior engagement with one or more of the following: theatre
history, the Shakespeare canon and its reception, the cultural contexts
and impact of World War One, ideas of cultural memory and memorialisation.

The appointment, which is funded to a specific total, is fixed-term, is
to commence as soon as possible and is to conclude at the end of January
2013; the working hours - which will be front-loaded, i.e.,
approximately full-time for the first six months and then approximately
half-time for the remaining two years - will be agreed depending on the
start date [e.g. if the starting date is 15 October, then the post will
be at 28 hours per week (80%) for the first six months and the remainder
of the term will be at 15.75 hours per week (45%)].

Informal enquiries can be made to Professor Gordon McMullan .

The appointment will be made, dependent on relevant qualifications and
experience, within the Grade 6 scale, currently £33,070 to £34,943 per
annum, inclusive of £2,323 London Allowance, per annum. Benefits include
an annual season ticket loan scheme and a final salary superannuation

Further details and application packs are available on the College's
website at, or alternatively by emailing Human
Resources at All correspondence should
clearly state the job title and reference number G6/AAE/460/10-JL.

The closing date for receipt of applications is 13 October 2010.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Persia in the Early Modern Period: "Chiefe of Empires"?

London Renaissance Seminar, Birkbeck College, London

Organiser: Dr Chloë Houston (University of Reading)

Chair: Dr Chloë Houston

1.30 pm Welcome

2-2.45 pm Abid Masood (University of Sussex) 'Re-emergence of Persian Islamic Identity in Late-Elizabethan England'

2.45-3.30 pm Dr Jane Grogan (University College Dublin), '"Warres commodious": Tamburlaine's Persia'

3.30-4 pm Tea

4-4.45 pm Kate Arthur (University of Exeter) 'Models of Kingship in Persian Drama'

When European travellers began to visit Persia in the mid-sixteenth century, knowledge of the country came from the Bible, classical histories, commentaries and drama, which described pre-Islamic Persia and in particular the 'glorious' Achaemenid empire of antiquity. As travel to Persia increased, it became the subject of contemporary geographies, travel writings and plays, which portrayed Islamic Persia under the Safavid dynasty and ensured that Persia was well known to English audiences and readers by the mid-seventeenth century. This seminar will discuss representations of Persia in the early modern period through travel literature, histories and drama, exploring the particular identity held by Persia in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European ideas about Islamic peoples.
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