Stephen Orgel (Stanford)  opened this term’s early modern graduate seminar with a study of the relations between architecture and stage settings. Looking closely at some familiar landscapes from Stuart masques, he brought out subtle and illuminating connections and changes. The seminar was earlier than usual to allow us all to attend one of Lukas Erne’s fine Lyell Lectures on ‘Shakespeare and the Book Trade’.

In the second seminar Bradin Cormack (Chicago) spoke on ‘Knowing Action: Ethical Shakespeare’. Starting with close readings of some problematic passages concerning will and agency, he explored possible Aristotelian resonances in apparently unstudied speeches, and opened up a lively discussion of language and action in Shakespeare.

Finally, in ‘From Mimesis to the Material Text? Revising Auerbach’s Montaigne’, Warren Boutcher (Queen Mary) highlighted the distance we have travelled since the publication of Mimesis in the attention now paid to material culture. He offered a very different kind of approach to Montaigne through parallels with Pierre de L’Estoile, whose manuscripts form part of a humanist culture of writing that is often obscured through the idealizations of print. Have we progressed, or only progressed, or just possibly regressed. since Auerbach’s great book? It was a good question with which to end the year, though perhaps one we shall never answer.