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1 April 2015, Archive

Welcome to the Forum newsletter for our latest round-up of news and cultural events from the Early Modern period.

Professor Jeanne Clegg has been in touch to share the news that the latest edition of the Journal of Early Modern Studies, an open access peer-reviewed journal published by Florence University Press, has just come on line, and is accessible here . The issue is dedicated to Servants and Service in Early Modern Culture and is edited by Professor Clegg, of the Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Culturali Comparati, Venice, and William C Carroll of Boston University.

John Burton has also contacted us. He researched early modern sonnet sequences for his doctorate at the University of Wales, and in the process compiled the first catalogue of sequences published in the early modern period. He has now made this available online as a research and teaching resource at http://www.sonnetsequences.com

A call for papers has been issued for the conference Media, Methods and Mission: Images in Global Evangelization. The Hagiography Society will sponsor two sessions at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference which will explore the movement of missionary images across continents in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. The conference will be held in Vancouver, BC Canada, 22-25 October, 2015. Abstracts of 250 words can be sent to Sara Ritchey (ritchey@louisiana.edu) by April 12 .

There has also been a call for papers for the conference Memories of revolts and revolutions : their forms and uses in early modern Europe (XVth-XVIIIth cent.), to be held at the Casa de Velázquez, Madrid, from 10-12 December 2015. The deadline is June 1, and abstracts for individual papers of 25 minutes should be 250-350 words long and sent to Stéphane Jettot at jettot@yahoo.com . There is more information here .

The Department of History of Art at the University of York are holding an International Symposium, Naples at Compton Verney, in South Warwickshire, on June 17. The programme can be read here , and there is more information and contact details on the poster .

There is the chance to see a vibrant production of Shakespeare in April, without leaving home. Cheek by Jowl’s production of Measure for Measure which features actors from the Pushkin Theatre in Moscow is on at the Barbican Centre, London, and on April 22 from 7.20pm will be screened live at Warwick Arts Centre , and also on the Telegraph website. It is at the Barbican from April 15 – 25, and the Oxford Playhouse from April 28 – May 2.

In other news, in an article in the Telegraph , Geoffrey Lean asked if British history had a future in the hands of the English Heritage Trust, after the split of the body into two organisations. One will look after its sites, and the other will list buildings and consider applications to change others. He looked at the financial challenges facing the organisations and how they will be run, but concluded with optimism over the doubling of numbers to visit English Heritage properties in the past decade.

An article by Cahal Milmo in the Independent looked at excavations at Bedlam’s burial ground in London, and asked if they could hold clues to the plague, which killed off so many Londoners. More than 3,000 skeletons are being excavated due to building work for the Crossrail project, and over seven months archeologists, bone experts and microbiologists will be gathering evidence about the lives of ordinary people in Tudor and Stuart London.

Art

Maev Kennedy of the Guardian wrote about the new exhibition Strange Creatures , the art of unknown animals, which is on until June 27 at the Grant Museum of Zoology, at UCL in London. Its exhibits include The Kongouro from New Holland, painted in 1772 by George Stubbs, from an eyewitness account of travellers. It is owned by the National Maritime Museum at Greewich after it was saved from export by public appeal in 2013. Other works include a armour-plated rhinoceros, an elephant carrying the population of a small village on its back, a double-jointed lion, and other creations of centuries of artists struggling to represent sights unseen.

In the Guardian, Jonathan Jones wrote about his search for clues to what made Diego Velázquez a compassionate yet unflinching painter, by wandering the streets of Seville. A major exhibition of Velazquez’s art has recently opened at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint at The Wallace Collection was reviewed by John Dorment in the Telegraph, who said it sheds fascinating new light on the artist. The paintings in the Wallace Collection have deteriorated over the centuries because the type of paint he used fades over time. This review looks at the techniques and paints he used. Four Reynolds paintings have been treated by conservationists, and Dorment said what can be learnt from their work transforms understanding of what kind of painter Reynolds was, pursuing technical innovation and experimenting with poses and gestures. The exhibition is on until June 7.

Wellington: Triumphs Politics and Passions was reviewed by Alastair Sooke in the Telegraph, who admitted going to the National Portrait Gallery exhibition expecting to be bored with a history lesson, but ended up describing it as a “peach of a show”, and feeling enlightened and enchanted. The exhibition is on until June 7.

At Compton Verney in south Warwickshire, paintings by Canaletto from his time in England 1746-1755 are on show, and examined in a social as well as an art history context, according to Mark Brown in the Guardian , who interviewed the curator and gallery director Steven Parissien.

The Guardian reported that a 400-year-old tapestry map which depicts mysterious event that happened among the villages, streams and windmills of Elizabethan Worcestershire is to go on public display for the first time in centuries at Oxford’s Bodleian library. In the event a hilly landscape near a village named as “The Worldesend”, “was dryven downe by the removyng of the ground”. The map was made in the 1590s for a landowner called Ralph Sheldon, and has been in the Bodleian since it was bequeathed in 1809 . After treatment in Belgium and at the National Trust’s textile workshop in Norfolk the map will be exhibited in the Bodleian’s renovated 1934 storage building, as part of an opening exhibition which will include one of the library’s four copies of Magna Carta; the Shakespeare First Folio and relics of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Books

Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England by Mark Hailwood was reviewed on www.history.ac.uk by Jennifer Bishop of the University of Cambridge, who said it was a study of the early modern alehouse during its peak period, from 1550-1700, when it was also a prime target for regulation and suppression. The reviewer says the ordinary men and women who visited the alehouse are the heroes of the book, with their interactions examined, and viewed as a prism to understand the communities of ordinary people in early modern England. The wide range of source material and local case studies were described as one of the main strengths of the book, though sometimes so many were offered it could result in a loss of direction.

Thomas Dekker and the Culture of Pamphleteering in Early Modern London by Anna Bayman was reviewed by Kirsty Rolfe of the University of Oxford, who said the book was an “important new consideration of how Dekker’s work drew upon, and acted on, the spaces and concerns of the city he lived in and the print market in which he took part”. Dekker came to prominence as a writer for stage in the late sixteenth century but turned to pamphlets in 1603 after the theatres closed on the outbreak of plague. The reviewer said some more attention to the responses of individual readers would be welcome, and the author’s identification of Dekker’s writing so closely with the view of his readership needed further examination. Overall though the book was a “useful reconsideration of an underexamined writer”, and a highly readable study.

Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County by David F Allmendinger Jr was reviewed by Professor Vanessa Holden of Michigan State University. The Southampton Rebellion was the most famous slave rebellion in American history, when in 1831 nearly 60 white people were killed by slaves , leading Virginia’s leaders to consider an end to slavery within the Commonwealth borders. The author “valuably asserts that the Southampton Rebellion has a history of its own and sets about narrating it”. The book is then divided into three sections, Masters, Rebellion and Telling Evidence. Prof Holden said the book illustrated in detail what and whom Nat Turner and his co-conspirators were rebelling against, but an “interrogation of the lives of the enslaved deserves as much depth of coverage as Allmendinger affords his white subjects”. The book though reveals important dimensions of the rebellion’s local history and contextualizes the event.

Fashioning the Body by Denis Bruna was reviewed in the Guardian by Kathryn Hughes, who found that in Tudor times codpieces were so big it was impossible for men to bend over to pull on their shoes. The ascent to the throne of Elizabeth I meant the use instead of a large white ruff to signify power and pool her head in refracted light. Clothing of the Regency period, where again the male fashion was designed to draw attention to a wide buttoned flap at the groin, is also featured. The book is a collection of essays written to accompany an exhibition of the same name held in Paris in 2013, which is now on show in New York, and focuses on ways people have tried to re-draw the human body through the ages.

Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer and Jennifer Young was reviewed in the Guardian by PD Smith. It is part of the Arden Shakespeare series, and argues that although Shakespeare rarely wrote about London, it played a central role in shaping his imagination. The eight chapters each focus on a separate play and explore the symbolic power of key locations, and it was described as an “evocative journey that places Shakespeare’s plays in a revealing urban context”.

John Aubrey: My Own Life by Ruth Scurr was reviewed by Daisy Hay in the Telegraph, who said the father of English biography, who lived in the seventeenth century, was brought thrillingly to life in a “novel combination of his own words”. She also described the book as magisterial, and said the author took Aubrey’s unpublished notes and autobiographical jottings and blended them with his published work into a diary. It is a testament to her skill she could keep the reader’s attention over 400 pages, and a selfless biography in which she renders herself invisible, and made the subject seem alive.

The Making of the Modern Police, 1780-1914 , general editor Paul Lawrence, in two parts, each of three volumes, and costing £275 each, was reviewed by Sarah Wise in the TLS. The earliest extracts were written in the 1750s and highlighted arguments about whether paid police should replace local unpaid constables. The documents used include Henry Fielding’s Enquiry Into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, of 1751, and philanthropist Jonas Hanway’s 1780 writing on how not having an effective force was “enslaving” British men and women. The reviewer said there were some things missed out, including the role of the Thames River Police, formed as early as 1798, but that was a minor criticism in an “otherwise excellent compendium”.

There was a link to a review of Tim Reinke-Williams's new book, Women, Work and Sociability in Early Modern London ​(Palgrave: 2014) in the February newsletter - this newsletter neglected to mention that the author did his BA, MA and PhD at the University of Warwick, and his supervisor for the PhD, on which the book is based, was Emeritus Professor Bernard Capp. There is more information about the book here .

Theatre

In the lull before the start of the RSC's new season, King Lear at the Viaduct Theatre, Halifax, was reviewed by Dominic Cavendish in the Telegraph, who said it "sends out little splinters of insight". It is Jonathan Miller’s eighth production of the Shakespearean tragedy, but has an "appealing modesty and clarity”. The production is touring until June 13.

*We would welcome news of your recently-published journal articles or books, and forthcoming conferences. You can email Newsletter Author Julie Chamberlain at emforum@warwick.ac.uk with details.