Donne, Spenser, Miscellanies: English Faculty Research Grants

January 25, 2010

Dr Peter McCullough has been awarded funds by the AHRC for a five-year project, working with an international team of scholars, to produce an edition of the Sermons of John Donne.  This project will produce the first annotated critical edition of the sermons.  The edition will be published in 16 volumes by Oxford University Press,  and will also be made available in electronic format.  The project will provide an unmatched resource for those interested in Donne’s writings (students, teachers, scholars, and the wider public), but it will also be invaluable to students of the history of preaching, religion, the law, the court, and politics in the period. The edition will launch its website, designed by Richard Rowley and hosted by CEMS, in early summer, and will include, inter alia, a full description of the project, and full semi-diplomatic transcriptions of all known Donne sermon manuscripts.

A holograph poem by Donne, the verse letter to Lady Carey and Mistress Essex Rich. MS Eng. poet. d.197.
© Bodleian Library

Dr Simon Palfrey will lead one strand in a project to be funded under the AHRC Religion and Society programme, ‘The Faerie Queene Now’. In the Fable and Drama Project, Palfrey and Dr Elisabeth Dutton will evolve new stories and a play through intense collaboration with heterogeneous educational communities: two ethnically diverse comprehensive secondary schools, both from socially deprived wards; and the students of Oxford University. The aim here will be to recover and communicate the trials and possibilities of virtue – religious and secular – in contemporary life. The culminating events will be the publication of a book of the project, illustrated by student collaborators, and a closed performance at Shakespeare’s Globe. The Liturgy Project seeks to create new liturgical texts and solidarity-building rituals for contemporary society inspired by the quest for holiness in Book 1 of Spenser’s epic. Here the Principal Investigator, Dr Ewan Fernie (Royal Holloway, University of London) will work in conjunction with the poet Jo Shapcott, and the theologian Andrew Shanks, who has made a case for ‘shaken poetry’ as a source of religious renovation. This team will prepare two extraordinary, inclusive services for the two very different environments of Manchester Cathedral and St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castles. The projects will come together in two events of reflection, dialogue and synthesis: a public arts event run by the ‘Poet in the City’ charity at major London venue King’s Place and a two-day cross-sector conference at Cumberland Lodge. The overall project will come to fruition in a major collection of essays revealing what Spenser has to give to the arts, society and religion, entitled ‘The Faerie Queene Now!’, and modelled on Fernie and Palfrey’s Shakespeare Now! series. The project website is at

Dr Abigail Williams has been awarded funds by the Leverhulme Trust for a three-year project to create an online and freely available index to the contents of approximately 1000 eighteenth-centry poetic miscellanies.  She will be collaborating on the project with Professor Michael Suarez, of the University of Virginia, and Dr Adam Rounce, of Manchester Metropolitan University.
The Digital Miscellanies Index will enable users to search collections of verse by poets, titles, first lines of poems, publishers, themes, or formats.  Based primarily on the most extensive collection of poetic miscellanies in English in the world (the Harding Collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford), this database resource will be the first of its kind, allowing scholars and students to trace in detail the availability and popularity of any individual work or poet throughout the period. It is an interdisciplinary venture, drawing together scholarship and expertise from the combined disciplines of eighteenth-century literary studies, musicology, the History of the Book, and applied statistical analysis. The Index will be hosted by and in collaboration with the Bodleian’s Centre for the Study of the Book, and will also involve a public concert, radio programme and exhibition based on material from the miscellanies.

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