Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Sterrett’


CFP Deadline Extended: The Marcher Metaphysicals Conference

March 9, 2015


Extended Deadline until 1 May

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: extended until the 1st of May!

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 Chloe Preedy (Exeter University, England) and Dr Elizabeth Ford (Open University, Cardiff, Wales)


Call for Papers ‘I take thee at thy word’: Trust in Renaissance Literature

August 16, 2013

What qualities compose trust and confidence in the Renaissance?  What signs call it into question?  This seminar seeks to identify points of congruence and contention in sixteenth and seventeenth century notions of trust and how they might be betrayed. From the stage Machiavel who discloses his plans to the audience to the kinsman who pledges his fealty, or the lover who exchanges his faithful vow, how did trust differ across such different domains as religious and political life or familial relations?  It is hoped that papers will cross a range of genres including early modern poetry, prose, and drama, as well as major and minor authors. The intended outcome will be to publish suitable papers in a special issue of Textual Practice.

This seminar will be part of the interdisciplinary MatchPoints Conference 2014 at Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark, 22-24 May 2014 (  Plenary speakers include Robert Putnam (Harvard University), Eric Uslaner (University of Maryland), Gerd Achenbach (Lessing-Hochschule zu Berlin, Philosophische Praxis), Mikael Rostila (Stockholm University), Alison Findlay (Lancaster University), Svend Andersen (Aarhus University), Cheryl Mattingly (University of Southern California), Sverre Raffnsøe (Copenhagen Business School).

Organised by Joseph Sterrett

Please send 150 word proposals to engjs [at] by 15 January 2014.


The Unheard Prayer: Religious Toleration in Shakespeare’s Drama

February 27, 2012

Joseph Sterrett (who completed his PhD at Cardiff University) has a monograph forthcoming with BRILL publishers (June, 2012).

Joseph Sterrett is now Assistant Professor at Aarhus University.

The Unheard Prayer: Religious Toleration in Shakespeare’s Drama

By the time Shakespeare had become a professional playwright, England had negotiated, broadly, four tumultuous shifts in religious orientation within living memory: Henry VIII’s initial break with the Roman Church, an intensification of Protestant doctrine under Edward VI, an arguably more intense reactionary restoration of the Roman faith under Mary, and the re-establishment of Protestant religion under Elizabeth I. Among the various practical manifestations of each of these shifts was an inevitable change in the regulation of the manner and method of prayer. Quite apart from the question of whether one’s prayers were efficacious or not, prayer was a performance that announced to one’s neighbours where one’s religious sympathies lay, if not one’s religious identity. In many ways prayer itself became a text that was read, scrutinized, and interpreted as an indication of one’s loyalty to the state, which is to say, the very person of the monarch. It offered one more parallel, should one be needed, between the God to whom one appealed in prayer, and the monarch who rhetorically assumed a similar position as head of the English church. And it became the underlying challenge that derived from a commonplace irony, where those who were accused of practicing unsound religion protested the compatibility of their beliefs with their loyalty to the crown, a point which in effect argued for the separation of religious policy from the polity of state.
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CFP: Prayer and Performance

May 10, 2011

Prayer and Performance: acts of belief as symbolic communication in the late medieval and Renaissance period

An international interdisciplinary colloquium examining the nature of prayer as performance in late medieval and early modern culture

Aarhus University, Denmark

April 2012

This project seeks to explore aspects of prayer as a performative act in European culture during the late medieval and early modern period, considering these findings in light of the most current theoretical and anthropological perspectives.  An intentionally interdisciplinary effort, it will draw together studies of literature, material culture and religious anthropology.  The project intends to answer the following questions:

  1. •How was prayer represented in literature, plays or works of art?
  2. •How do prayers in plays by Shakespeare, Marlowe and Middleton, for example, register responses to the controversies and debates about what constituted true or effective prayer?
  3. •How did communities utilize prayer as a distinguishing feature for their religious identity, and how were these forms policed?
  4. •How was prayer bound up in the material culture of religious practice (funeral rites, for example) and the social practices that determined social status of different periods?
  5. •More importantly, how might these literary, social and material gestures serve as a marker for shifting social perspectives and customs, especially during the Reformation?

Call for papers

Papers are invited from those who work on prayer during this period, either through language, material culture, social practice or from a more theoretical perspective. The aim will be share research, whether it be an examination of the architecture created to facilitate prayer, the texts created to preserve, stimulate, guide or police prayer (poetry, hymns, sermons, or polemic), or more scientific attempts to define a person or community’s relationship to the practice of prayer.

Please submit proposals of 150 words for papers of 20 minutes in length.  Panels on specific aspects of early modern prayer will also be considered and should include a brief summary of the panel focus with 150 word proposals of each paper included in the panel.  All submissions should be made via the email link below.

Further details on dates and programme will be posted soon here.

Co-organised by the Department of Language, Literature and Culture, and the Section for Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology, Aarhus University in conjunction with the School of English, Bangor University, Wales.


Cardiff Shakespeare Publications

November 30, 2010

You can now view information (and links) to publications by students and academics at or from Cardiff University.

Press Here


Joseph Sterrett appointed Assistant Professor

November 5, 2010

Cardiff Shakespeare had reason to celebrate lastnight!

Dr Joseph Sterrett, who completed his PhD at Cardiff University in 2009, has recently been appointed Assistant Professor in English Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark.

His PhD research focused on Shakespeare’s use of the unheard prayer.

Find out more about his publications and projects here.


Early Modern Literary Studies

May 23, 2010

R. M. Christofides, who recently completed his PhD at Cardiff University, has an article published in the latest issue (15.1) of the journal, Early Modern Literary Studies. The article is called Iago and Equivocation: The Seduction and Damnation of Othello. In the same issue, Joseph Sterrett, also formerly of Cardiff University, reviews Regina Schwartz. Sacramental Poetics at the Dawn of Secularism: When God Left the World. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2008. EMLS is an online peer-reviewed journal which is open access.

Images of Matter

"Words are but the images of matter" --- Francis Bacon | Exploring the materiality of language in the early modern world and beyond

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