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Conference Panels

Venue: The Chaplaincy, University of Warwick

Panel 1


Religious Thought

Eva Mussio

Department of Classics and Ancient History

1st year PhD student

The Path towards heavenly Wisdom in Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Milton’s Paradise Lost offers several starting points for a discussion on the use and rewriting of ancient Jewish and Early-Christian interpretations of the Genesis account of creation, fall and conditioned rehabilitation of humankind. The biblical narratives and legends parallel to the canonical text of sacred scripture and the ancient exegetes reflected in their allegorical readings and compositions the needs expressed in their time. According to a similar process, Milton represents through allegorical language and rhetorical devices the concept and role of divine wisdom and human knowledge in his poetical work, referring back to the classical and Christian thought as well as being interpreter of his own time.

Laura Sangha

Department of History

2nd Year PhD student

The Significance of Angels in English Religious Cultures, c.1480-1700

Angels were a ubiquitous presence in traditional medieval religious cultures, and the liturgy and iconography of the Catholic church was littered with references to and depictions of the celestial beings. Although the processes of reform had a profound effect on the corpus of angelic belief, perceptions of the nature and role of heavenly beings persisted in modified forms and this makes them a rewarding area of study, especially since they held a contested place in Christian (and particularly Protestant) theology. Although indubitably biblical, the variety of rituals, representations and devotions associated with angels occupied an uneasy position between orthodox piety and illegitimate ‘superstition’, and subsequently this paper will explore how belief about angels can provide further insight into the reception of religious reform at a popular level, thus engaging with current lively debates about the long term repercussions of religious change and the complicated mix of ideas and motifs that formed the essential features of English Protestantism.

David Scott Gehring

Department of History

Visiting PhD student (Wisconsin Exchange)

"Ye good meaning" and "the most weighty option": The Augsburg Confession and its Historical Significance to the Elizabethan Church

The Elizabethan Church is usually described as doctrinally Calvinist in nature, and either indifferent or even antagonistic to the other Protestant option, Lutheranism, due to the latter’s supposed exclusivity. Yet, if we consider how the English understood the historical place and meaning of the the Lutheran confessional document itself, the Augsburg Confession, we quickly find a moderate Protestantism in England open to several confessional stripes. Elizabeth and many others had strong sympathies for the Lutheran settlement, and understood the importance it held for continued religio-political ties to Germany and the complexities of international diplomacy during the later Reformation.

Panel 2


Social Contexts

Lindzey Mullard

Department of History

1st year PhD student

Chidley family values? Separatism and networking within seventeenth-century religious and political agitation.

My paper will introduce my doctoral research, which is based around the networking activities of Katharine, Daniel and Samuel Chidley, noted, indeed notorious, religious and political activists during the English Civil War and Interregnum. I will outline their role within the Separatist and Leveller movements, and explain how I aim to investigate these and similar radicals through their exploitation of personal and professional allegiances, in particular membership of establishments such as Guilds and churches, and contacts made through the popular press. The project will also explore issues of gender positioning and the public/private sphere.

Michelle Di Meo

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

2nd year PhD student

The Intellectual Circle of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh (1614-1691)

Traditional historical accounts of Katherine Jones, Lady Ranelagh (1614-1691), have depicted her simply as the supportive sister of her famous scientist brother, Robert Boyle (1627-1691). While recent scholarship has begun to correct Lady Ranelagh's incomplete biography by attesting to her strong political influence, these studies only use her extant letters for primary sources, thereby neglecting her three extant manuscript receipt books. In addition to evidencing Lady Ranelagh's sophisticated knowledge of iatrochemistry, these receipt books are highly important for recreating the network of intellectuals with whom she exchanged information, which included both accredited male physicians and female lay practitioners. The host of sources listed within the receipt books will be read against extant letters written to and by Lady Ranelagh in order to clarify the attributions within and allow for a more authoritative contextual reading.

Brodie Waddell
Department of History

1st year PhD student

God and Economic Morality in England
According to popular interpretations of the Word, God was a key agent in the seventeenth-century economy. Rather than accepting economic oppression as part of a divinely-ordained social order, many moralists tried to convince their audiences that the extortions of merchants, landlords and creditors were sins awaiting punishment. Moreover, both earthly and heavenly authorities were called upon to redress ‘the cry of the oppressed’. This paper demonstrates how the language of popular homiletics opened up a space for plebeian action with concrete socioeconomic consequences. By analysing the connotative idiom of social complaint found in popular religious texts and sermons, the important but historiographically neglected role of ‘godliness’ in the early modern ‘moral economy’ is revealed.

Panel 3


Addressing the Physical Text

Justine Williams

Centre for the Study of the Renaissance

1st year PhD

The parerga of James Shirley’s The Royal Master: an exploration of early modern Irish print culture

My paper will discuss the prefatory material and epilogue of the two 1638 printed editions of Shirley’s The Royal Master. I shall briefly contextualise the first two performances of the play, and outline the circumstances surrounding Shirley’s move to Ireland and the construction of the Werburgh Street Theatre. I will explore how the commendatory verses impacts upon our understanding of the relationship between playwright and printer. I shall also discuss how the dedication and epilogue uniquely reveal the complexity of patronage in Early Modern Ireland, and how this influences our understanding of Dublin society during this period.

Heloise Senechal

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

3rd year PhD
‘Edified by the margent’? Glossing Shakespearean in an Electronic Age.

The paper will explore changing attitudes to the glossing of Shakespeare’s language, and the manner in which new electronic resources are contributing to revised understanding of the Elizabethan semantic field. Of particular interest will be the glossing of words not previously deemed to have undergone a significant semantic shift since the 1600s. The paper will consider several key instances of such terms and editorial approaches to
them, noting the tendency to under-annotate the words in question, and/or to over-rely on the OED in seeking to establish meaning. This will be followed by a demonstration of how resources such as LEME, LION and EEBO have enabled the generation of new priorities of signification and have widened the operational field of the terms under consideration.

Sebastiano Ghelfi

Visiting Socrates Exchange student in the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance

3rd year PhD student

The relationship between Renaissance art and literature has been studied in the twentieth century according to different perspectives and various methodologies. Horace’s claim of a kinship between "the sister Arts" (ut pictura pöesis) found in Renaissance verbal and visual works of Art a particularly apt field of research: from the late fifteenth Century a breaking with medieval forms of aesthetic representation is evident at both formal and epistemic levels in all European countries. The analogy between the arts found in the idealistic organic metaphor of a Zeigeist unifying each epoch’s systems of aesthetic representation a fundamental basis of consideration for the first part of the century. In 1969 Mario Praz, in his quasi-structuralist book on the parallelism between the arts called "Mnemosyne" (the mother of the Muses), explained that analogies amd omolgies has to be sought and explained beyond the impressionistic air de famille that we perceive when read and see them. Recent development in Italian and Anglo-american "interart studies" tend to deem as mutually and dialogically necessary both the formal/structural/semiotic analysis of the text and the historical/epistemic/aesthetic consideration of the contexts in which the work of art came into existence. Examples of different methodologies and results will be given from Spenser, Donne and Shakespeare.

Alice Eardley

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

3rd year PhD student

'Saturn (whose aspects soe sads my soul)': Lady Hester Pulter's Feminine Melancholic Genius.

Lady Hester Pulter’s (1605-1678) manuscript was uncovered a little over a decade ago in Leeds’ Brotherton library. It is one of the most substantial literary manuscripts we have by an early modern Englishwoman but it is only just beginning to receive the critical attention it warrants. With this paper I will provide an introduction to Pulter’s literary persona and poetical achievement. Throughout her text Pulter manipulates the conventions of ‘melancholic genius’, more commonly associated with her male contemporaries, in order to present a model of creativity which is both intellectually accomplished and firmly grounded in the female body.

Panel 4


Exploring Renaissance Space

Joanne Allen

Department of History of Art

1st year PhD student

The choir stalls of the Frari church in Venice and their influence

The choir stalls in Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice were completed in 1468 by the Cozzi workshop. The following year saw the church hosting the General Chapter of the Franciscan Order, a significant event which could have provided an impetus for the creation of a set of impressive stalls.

Marco Cozzi was later commissioned in 1475 to complete the choir stalls of the Duomo of Spilimbergo, a small town in the present-day region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. The contract states that the stalls must look similar to those in the Frari. This paper will consider the relationship between the stalls in the Frari and Spilimbergo, together with later stalls by the same workshop.

Jonathan Willis

Department of History

2nd year PhD student

Music and Religious Belief in Post-Reformation England

This paper constitutes an overview of my thesis, which attempts to shed new light on the ways in which the English people were Protestantised in the latter half of the sixteenth century through an analysis of musical discourse and practice during the reign of Elizabeth I, and enquires into the role music had in (Protestant) religious identity formation. The paper will focus on those aspects of my research which I have explored in most detail so far, namely debates about the nature and use of Church music in English Protestant polemic, and changing patterns of religio-musical expenditure and practice in the parish context. Polemical treatments of the issue of Church music speak more deeply in terms of a battle for the institutional soul of the English church between religious conformists and more radical Protestants, while parochial religio-musical practice shows us new ways in which the religion of the vast majority was '"post-Reformation" but not distinctively "Protestant"', involving as it did a significant degree of accommodation between traditional and novel religio-musical activities and ideals.

Ioanna Iordannou

Centre for the Study of the Renaissance

Final year PhD student

The Maritime Communities of Sixteenth Century Venice: The Arsenalotti, and the Greeks, 1575-1600.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Venice had established herself as a maritime empire having achieved, not only solid control of the Mediterranean and European trade, but also the methodical restraint of the Ottomans' expansive aspirations towards European lands. Home to the world renowned Arsenale, the biggest of Europe's medieval industries, it was there that the great Venetian galleys were constructed, armed and launched into water. This paper will discuss the two working class groups that constructed and manned these ships; the shipbuilders, commonly known as Arsenalotti, as well as the Greek immigrants in the city, most of whom were employed either as shipbuilders, or as sailors and captains, from a socio-economic point of view. A brief examination of their way of life will take into consideration the places in which they lived, the social networks which they formed, their religious and charitable activities, as well as their economic situation in a crucial period for Venetian history, following the battle of Lepanto, but, most importantly, the disastrous plague of 1575-1577. What will be established is that a study of these two distinct groups, the Arsenalotti as a representative artisan group, and the Greeks as a representative immigrant group, can expand our knowledge of Venice's lower classes that have hitherto been the object of extremely limited study.