Archive for September, 2014


CFP: The Marcher Metaphysicals

September 19, 2014

The Marcher Metaphysicals Conference,

29 October – 1 November 2015,

Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, Mid-Wales

The Welsh Marches, Marchia Walliae, or Y Mers in Welsh, constitute an extensive area around the boundary between England and Wales. This border country, in its breadth and somewhat hazy demarcation, defies precise definition, and invites fluidity of ideas and perception. The Marches are both a place in their own right, and an approach to somewhere else; they form a site of great natural beauty but also of historic political contention. Norman conquerors used these lands to subdue the native Welsh, as well as to create a jurisdiction separate from the English crown. Shakespeare represented them as a wild, rebel landscape, full of magic. The Marches were the imaginative home to a number of seventeenth-century poets who were interested in exploring the boundaries between material and spiritual experience. Their work forms the main focus of this conference. Equally important to our discussions will be the ways in which this poetic tradition has been updated and reinvigorated by Welsh and English poets in more recent times.

This conference seeks to explore the relationship between the early modern ‘metaphysical’ poets and the Marches that provided them with both material and imaginative landscapes. What influence did this place and its collective consciousness have on poets such as George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne and John Donne? How did these poets express an understanding of boundaries, power and resistance, and an appreciation of the beauty of the natural environment that informed them? How did their poetry speak to the aesthetic, religious, philosophical and political movements of the seventeenth century? How have the Marches, and indeed these poets, influenced modern poetry, helping poets to find new ways of describing and influencing a world beyond borders.

The conference will take place from the afternoon of Thursday 29 October to the morning of Sunday 1 November 2015 at Gregynog Hall, the historic house which is also the conference centre of the University of Wales. Gregynog is itself located in the Welsh Marches, near Newtown in Montgomeryshire, and is set in its own extensive and attractive grounds. It will form an appropriate and conducive setting for the discussion of the Marcher Metaphysicals.

We invite e-mail submissions for papers that explore the historical contexts, influences, and links shared by the seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, pursue fresh readings of their poetry or work critically with more recent British poets who have followed their tradition in negotiating geographical, linguistic, political or spiritual borders. The conference organisers also welcome submissions from poets and other creative artists inspired by the Welsh Marches and actively exploring the idea of ‘borders’.
For 15-20-minute papers, please send a 250-word titled abstract; for a complete 3-4-person panel, please send an overall title and individual 250-word titled abstracts for each paper; for creative presentations, please send a 250-word description indicating any other introductory materials (PDFs, CDs, DVDs) that the conference programming committee might then request for evaluation.


You should send your submissions to
Please indicate Marcher Metaphysicals 2015 in your subject line and include a 1-page CV giving an e-mail and a regular mail address. You should also indicate any expected audio-visual needs.
Deadline for submissions: 28 February 2015

Conference organisers: Dr Joseph Sterrett (Aarhus University, Denmark) and Prof Helen Wilcox (Bangor University, Wales)
Conference advisory committee: Dr Erik Ankerberg (Milwaukee Lutheran University, U.S.A.), Dr Elizabeth Ford (Open University, Cardiff, Wales) and Dr Chloe Preedy (Exeter University, England)


Year’s Work in English Studies

September 16, 2014

The annual installment of the Year’s Work in English Studies, published by Oxford University Press, is now available online. In the section on “Shakespeare’s tragedies”, Johann Gregory (Cardiff Uni alumnus) reviews two monographs by previous Cardiff University alumni, Joseph Sterrett and Roger Christofides – (The Unheard Prayer: Religious Toleration in Shakespeare’s Drama and Shakespeare and the Apocalypse: Visions of Doom from Early Modern Tragedy to Popular Culture, respectively). Another alumni, Robert Magnani, contributes to the “Chaucer” section. In other news, Neil Badminton (Cardiff University) is the new editor of the Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, which this year also includes a contribution by Josh Robinson (Cardiff University) on “Poetics”.

Those with an institutional login should be able to access these online here:

Cardiff Shakespeare has a new twitter account – at the same handle @CardiffShakes. Please re-follow!


Cardifff Uni Speakers at “Shakespeare: The Philosopher” Conference

September 12, 2014

Christopher Norris and Sophie Battell will be speaking today at the conference “Shakespeare: The Philosopher” taking place at the University of Hertfordshire.

Norris, Distinguished Research Professor at Cardiff, is speaking on Wittgenstein and Shakespeare. Battell, a PhD candidate at Cardiff, is speaking on “Language and Exile in Richard II“.

Find out more here:

Cardiff Shakespeare has a new twitter account – at the same handle @CardiffShakes. Please re-follow!



September 10, 2014

Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion

Writing The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe trilogy was something of a literary experiment. In my academic work at Cardiff University, I employ plagiarism software to detect collocations shared between Shakespeare and his contemporaries, such as Peele, Kyd and, indeed, my dashing protagonist, Marlowe. My examinations of such phrases used by Elizabethan dramatists enable me to form theories concerning collaboration, authorial imitation and authorship.

I have always been fascinated by collaboration, and the ways in which authors, according to accommodation theory, consciously or unconsciously echo each other’s portions. I asked a fellow indie author, Robert NC Thomas, to collaborate with me on the first book in the series, Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion, because he was far more experienced in the action/adventure genre than I was, and I have long been an admirer of his writing style. We have collaborated on many projects together, including a radio parody of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and a screwball noir comedy for Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Satan Met a Shamus. We therefore have intimate knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as writers.

Using plagiarism software and our respective portions for the first book (as well as his book Rupert Pinter and the Curse of the Tuatha De Danann, and my own first venture into fiction, Cinnamon Twigs: The Life and Pseudocide of a Celebrity), I was able to detect idiolectic formations that distinguished our authorial styles. This enabled me to consciously imitate his style in an attempt to unify the book, although inevitable difficulties arose in characterisation and plot consistency at times. We had met up to plot the story in our favourite pub, The Woodville, and decided that we would assign respective chapters between us, and I would subsequently edit them. There is only one chapter in Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion that melds our individual passages, but it is far too much to hope that one day attribution scholars will attempt to distinguish our hands! This process of collaboration gave me insights into the ways Elizabethan co-authors might have worked.

In the knowledge of my collaborator’s phrasal repetends, I was able to maintain the authorial voice of the first book when I came to write its prequel/sequel, Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet, solo. By time I came to the third book in the trilogy, Kit Marlowe and the Fatal Engines of War (forthcoming), I was able to unconsciously assimilate many of Robert NC Thomas’s phrasal structures into my own work. Furthermore, I strove to link the language of the books to the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe and company, so that you could say the whole trilogy is permeated by a plethora of authorial voices. I hope fans of Marlowe and Shakespeare will enjoy the reading experience; there are plenty of knowing winks throughout these stories. I am very grateful to Robert NC Thomas for his help on the first book, and to Charlotte ‘Meg’ Smith for her lovely artwork.

Academia aside, the books, though extremely violent and dark in parts (much like Elizabethan and Jacobean dramas), are good fun and are interlaced with comedy. A lot of research has gone into developing the characters, based on historical material concerning figures such as Marlowe, Kyd, John Whitgift and Francis Walsingham. I have taken liberties at times for the sake of adventure and readership, and Marlowe’s musings on his fellow lodger’s dramatic corpus are somewhat subjective and based on my support for Brian Vickers’ work on Thomas Kyd’s extended canon.

I would be incredibly grateful if readers of Cardiff Shakespeare could download these books, available on Amazon Kindle for just 77p each, and hopefully enjoy these short, easy (and admittedly rather silly!) reads.


Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion: The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe (Book 1)

Available for download at:


Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, poet and spy, is sent to investigate the villainous Barnaby Ithamore, who intends to raise an army of demons from hell in order to destroy the world. In this pulse-pounding action/adventure story, the swashbuckling hero, armed with his trusty rapier, undergoes a breathless voyage across Elizabethan England, Spain, Italy and Germania, concluding in an explosive climax off the coast of Portugal… James Bond’s world of espionage meets the dark age of William Shakespeare in this unforgettable first book in The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe series.


Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet: The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe (Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Available for pre-order at:


The Adventures of Christopher Marlowe continue in this thrilling prequel/sequel to Kit Marlowe and the Demon Legion! It is the eve of the Spanish Armada, and Marlowe is eager to join his comrades at Plymouth and wage war against Catholic Spain. However, his boss, the spymaster Francis Walsingham, has other plans, and sends him on a mundane mission to Linlithgow, in Scotland, to judge where the Scottish King stands on Protestantism… Marlowe soon finds that danger is never far away though, and, in the company of the beautiful heroine Chyna Dahl, pits himself against three deadly witches and an army of the dead. His mission leads him to the White Cliffs of Dover, and to an unexpected, devastating showdown… Hilarious, yet dark and extremely violent, Kit Marlowe and the Doomsday Fleet is an adventure like no other.

Darren Freebury-Jones




Cardiff Shakespeare has a new twitter account – at the same handle @CardiffShakes. Please re-follow!

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