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Archive newsletter, 8 August 2013

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

We start this edition with a call for papers for a special issue of the online journal entitled Journal of Early Modern Studies which is to be called Service and Servants in Early Modern Culture 1500-1750. This Volume 4 of the journal will be released online in March 2015. It is edited by William C Carroll of Boston University and Jeanne Clegg of Università Ca' Foscari, Venice and aims to ‘bring together scholars from across a wide disciplinary spectrum to enquire into differences and similarities, continuities and changes in the ethics, representation and practice of service and servitude in different countries and contexts’. The issue is looking for contributions on oral and visual forms of cultural expression as well as textual, and contributions addressing issues of class, gender and ethnic/national representations are encouraged.

A working title and short abstract need to go to William C Carroll ( and Jeanne Clegg ( )by October 1. For more information see the Journal here or email William C Carroll.

Dr Jonathan Davies of the University of Warwick’s history department has edited a new book entitled Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe, and written the introduction to it. The book looks at various aspects of violence from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. There is more information here .

In other news, in the ongoing story about the discovery of the remains of Richard III, it has been announced they will be buried beneath a raised tomb in Leicester Cathedral in a reinterment costing £1million. Architects are reportedly now working on several possible designs for the last Plantagenet King’s final resting place. The Dean of Leicester, The Very Reverend David Monteith, said they wanted to create a wonderful space in the Cathedral where thousands of people would want to come and pay their respects.


In the Telegraph , Alastair Sooke reviewed Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man, an exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Holyroodhouse. The show comes from a collection of 240 individual drawings and more than 13,000 words of notes in the Royal Collection. He says this exhibition sets Anatomical Manuscript A in context by providing sheets from earlier and later in Leonardo’s career but it does not offer a comprehensive overview of his activities as an anatomist. It does though juxtapose his investigations from 1510-11 with CT and MRI scans and 3D films to show how farsighted his drawings were, and bring us closer to his mindset when he made them. The exhibition is on until November 10.

Thieves who stole 10 paintings and two drawings from the Van Buuren Museum on the outskirts of Brussels may have been disappointed later, the Telegraph reported, as one of the drawings they took, Peasant Woman Pealing Potatoes which is labelled Van Gogh is believed to be a fake. Other works stolen included a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger.


Noel Malcolm in the Telegraph reviewed The Enlightenment And Why It Still Matters by Anthony Pagden, and found it to be a robust defence of rational thought of the enlightenment. He says one of the most fascinating chapters is about the cult of the ‘noble savage’ and the impact of explorers’ talks from the Pacific Islands.

Empire of the Deep by Ben Wilson was reviewed by Sam Willis in the Telegraph. He wrote that any book that attempts to tell the history of the navy must reflect the story of its rise and fall, and this book does that, from the time of the Anglo-Saxons to the present, including the peaks of the Armada campaign in 1588 and the wars after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

The Making of the English Gardener - Plants, Books and Inspiration 1560-1660, By Margaret Willes was reviewed by Lesley McDowell in the Independent, who found it to often be male-dominated, but with women moving in to writing about gardening in the seventeenth century. She says the author links decoration and detail with this era of male gardeners and designers.

Toby Clements reviewed Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 by George Godwin and said the author does a terrific job in building up the protagonists’ back stories and the tragedy of misunderstandings which led to the Scots marching south with a 42,000-strong army.

Defining Culinary Authority: the Transformation of Cooking in France, 1650-1830 by Jennifer Davis is reviewed by Professor Max Shrem from New York University. He said the author shifts the focus on culinary authority from the affluent diners to the cooks and their books which helped to define French gastronomy. She uses figures on the eighteenth century readership of cookbooks to highlight the growing obsession for reading about cooking, and also suggests nineteenth century chefs are indebted to the work of their predecessors. He concludes the book represents a major contribution to the field of culinary history, because it reminds us of the multifaceted influences on culinary aesthetics, referencing science, literature and cuisine by putting together and exploring different types of documents.

Sugar and Spice : Grocers and Groceries in Provincial England, 1650-1830 by Jon Stobart is reviewed by Kate Smith of University College London. The book concentrates on how grocers in the long eighteenth century purchased the new imported goods of the time. The author ‘tells a global story through a particular lens, in order to demonstrate how the supply of goods such as tobacco, tea, coffee and chocolate shaped the retail practices and spaces of early modern Britain’. Ms Smith says the author reasserts the need for more studies which explore the localised processes at the heart of global trade. She has unanswered questions about some aspects of the study, but says it still offers an important contribution to the field of consumption history.

Alcohol in World History by Gina Hames is reviewed by Dr James Nicholls of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. After two books about food, this one looks at the influence of alcohol on world history and culture, including its role in helping drive the globalisation of trade from the seventeenth century onwards. The book is only 150 pages long and Dr Nicholls says to expect anything more than a broad guide would be unreasonable in a book of this kind.


In the Guardian , Michael Billington reviewed Gabriel, which is on at Shakespeare’s Globe in London until August 18. He said it is a series of short plays by Samuel Adamson celebrating the ‘rackety London of the 1690s, the genius of Henry Purcell and the limitless potential of the solo trumpet’. He said it was one of the most enjoyable evenings he had spent at the Globe, with wonderful music but marrying the bawdy with the beautiful to create an exceptional evening.

Dominic Cavendish also reviewed it for the Telegraph , and said he saw the whole audience paying the same rapt attention as he felt at the. He said it left the audience ‘giddy with pleasure and fully smitten with the work of Henry Purcell’.

Michael Billington in the Guardian found All’s Well That Ends Well at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford easily the best production of its current season, with director Nancy Meckler treating it not as a problem but as a ‘wholly beguiling blend of fairytale myth and gender politics’. The play is on until September 26.

Charles Spencer also reviewed it for the Telegraph and found it superb, with the audience held spellbound with a ‘mixture of lucidity, humour and emotional truth that makes this dark drama seem unexpectedly captivating.’

He also said the National Theatre’s exuberant hour-long Romeo and Juliet is sharp and funny. It is being staged until August 18.

Alfred Hickling in the Guardian reviewed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Grosvenor Park Theatre, Chester, and said the venue is much improved, and director Alex Clifton delivers a ‘dandy, vaguely 18th century production’ which is ‘largely unencumbered with grand concepts and conceits’, apart from a Puck who appears in two places at once, played by identical twins.

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