Early Modern Graduate Forum Michaelmas Term 2010 Review

December 20, 2010

Friday November 5th (4th Week)

This year’s forum began with a lively discussion of Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History, ed. Brian Cummings and James Simpson (Oxford, 2010), which addressed questions of periodisation and the bridge between ‘medieval’ and ‘renaissance’ through readings of the relevant chapters on ‘Anachronism’ and ‘Theatre’.  Margreta de Grazia’s close reading of Lorenzo Valla’s critique of the Donation of Constantine in particular provided a springboard for a collective reevaluation of the modernity of Early Modern print culture and its understanding of the past.

Monday November 8th (5th Week)

The second session of the forum saw a large audience and excellent papers by Nick Hardy, former forum co-convenor (‘”The suffrages of the Criticall Senat“: criticism and philology in Britain, 1609-1657′), and Rachel McPherson (‘Praise, Plot, and Character in Pericles and Cymbeline‘).  Despite widely divergent topics, the two papers interacted in surprising and informative ways that led to a lengthy debate over drinks.

Tuesday November 16th, 6th week

A very well-attended forum heard two papers working in the broadly-defined field of Neo-Latin literature, from two quite different scholars. Alexander Farquhar spoke to the forum on ‘The Poet in Court: Arthur Johnston and the Caignioucle Inheritance’, describing the interactions of legal process and poetic self-fashioning across Johnston’s Ad senatum mechliniensem. Elizabeth Sandis spoke on the student staging of Latin plays across early modern Oxford, looking particularly closely at a 1611 St. John’s College staging of Philip Parsons’ Atalanta.  A large audience ensured a fruitful session of questioning, succeeded by a trip to the King’s Arms for food and drinks.

Thursday December 2nd, 8th week

Papers by Kelsey Jackson Williams (forum co-convenor) and Harriet Archer completed a very well-received term. The theme of absence and loss echoed across both papers. As a scholar of early modern networks of intellectual enquiry, Kelsey spoke to the forum on ‘Gildas’ Poems: John Aubrey, Octavian Pulleyn, and the Search for a Lost Manuscript in Rome’. On hearing Kelsey’s paper, Harriet chose to adjust her intended topic to reflect the themes emerging, delivering an alternative talk on ‘The Medieval in John Higgins’ Mirror for Magistrates’. A highly productive discussion ensued, with Harriet’s interrogation of the medieval nicely rounding off a term which began with a questioning of ‘medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’.

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