A few thoughts on early modern skill

Monday, August 20th, 2012 | EVELYN TRIBBLE | No Comments

One of my favourite accounts of skill comes from Roger Ascham’s Toxophilus: or the Art of Shooting. Writing in 1545 to promote the ancient English art of shooting with the longbow, Ascham describes the tight connection between expert performance and the pleasures associated with watching skilled action.

For this I am sure, in learning all other matters, nothing is brought to the most profitable use, which is not handled after the most comely fashion. As masters of fence have no stroke fit either to hit another, or else to defend himself, which is not joined with a wonderful comeliness. A cook cannot chop his herbs neither quickly nor handsomely, except he keep such a measure with his chopping-knives as would delight a man both to see him and hear him. Every handcraftman that works best for his own profit, works most seemly to other men’s sight. Again, in building a house, in making a ship, every part, the more handsomely they be joined for profit and last, the more comely they be fashioned to every man’s sight and eye.

The key word for Ascham here is ‘comeliness,’ a word which conveys the union of beauty, grace, and utility. He seems to be reaching for the same concepts that Olympic commentators invoke when they say of  a pole vaulter, a diver, or a weightlifter that ‘she makes it look easy.’ Fluid rhythms, economy of movement, efficiency of technique –the actions that are the most pleasing to the eye are also those that produce the greatest utility. In archery, Ascham admires the almost seamless integration of the instrument with the skilled body of the archer (one wonders what he would have made of technology of modern bows).

Our colloquium next week on Practical Knowledge and Skill in Early Modern England will look at skill and practical knowledge in domains as diverse as science, natural philosophy, religion, and theatre. Will we find a common vocabulary for discussing skill across these fields?

Early Modern Thought Colloquium Schedule

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 | MICHAEL COP | No Comments

We have finalized the schedule for our Early Modern Thought Research Theme’s colloquium on 27-28 August held at Otago University.  The full abstracts are available on our conference page. Everyone is welcome; for registration details please contact Michael Cop (michael.cop@otago.ac.nz):

Monday 27 August Otago Museum Kakapo Room

9:15 Registration

9: 30 Peter Anstey, University of Otago: Introduction and remarks: Practical and Speculative Knowledge

10:00 Peter Harrison, University of Queensland: “Contemplation and Creation: Some Theological Motivations for the Pursuit of an Experimental Natural Philosophy“

11:00  Morning tea

11: 30 Sorana Corneanu, University of Bucharest: “The Parts of Prudence and the Virtues of Experimental Knowledge”

12:30 – 2:00 Lunch

2:00 Peter Marshall, Warwick University: “How to Recognize a Heretic in Sixteenth-Century England”

3:00 Afternoon tea

3:30 – 4:30 Terry Doyle, University of Otago: “Pharmaceutice Rationalis: Patterns of Medical Treatment in the Seventeenth Century”

 

Tuesday 28 August Otago Museum Hutton Theatre

9:30 Evelyn Tribble, University of Otago & John Sutton, Macquarie University: Introduction and Remarks: The Historical Study of Skill

10:00 Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College: “Sophistication”

11:00 Morning Tea

11:30 Michael Neill, University of Auckland: “‘A book where one may read strange matters’: Envisaging Character on the Shakespearean Stage.”

12:00 Tom Bishop, University of Auckland, “Work and Play”

Lunch 12:30 – 2:00

2:00-4:30 Roundtable: Theatrical Skills, then and now
Brief remarks from Paul Menzer, John Sutton, Ros Knutson, David Carnegie, Evelyn Tribble, and Lisa Warrington; followed by open discussion

Notes and Announcements

Monday, June 4th, 2012 | MICHAEL COP | No Comments

 

The Shakespeare Institute, the University of Warwick, and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have launched Year of Shakespeare, a “digital project that will include reviews of each of the productions [from the World Shakespeare Festival]; special features from academics, artists, and educators involved in the festivities.”

 

Saturday, 15 September 2012 at Queen Mary, University of London there will an interdisciplinary conference “Text and Trade: Book History Perspectives on Eighteenth Century Literature.”  Keynote Speakers will be Professor James McLaverty (English Department, Keele University) and Dr. John Hinks (Chair of the Printing Historical Society and Honorary Fellow at the Centre of Urban History, University of Leicester).  To submit proposals (deadline: 15 June) or to make informal inquiries please contact the conference organizers, Dr. Jenn Chenkin and Dr. Tessa Whitehouse at textandtrade15sept@gmail.com.

 

On 8 September 2012 Leeds Trinity University College will have the Northern Renaissance Seminar, ‘Disability and the Renaissance.’  Proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on the ways in which disability can be conceptualised in/through/by the Renaissance (deadline: 30 June).  Please send your proposals or any queries to Susan Anderson: s.anderson@leedstrinity.ac.uk.

Massey University Symposium “Editing Early Texts: Practice and Protocol”

Friday, May 18th, 2012 | MICHAEL COP | No Comments

Massey University is holding its “Editing Early Texts: Practice and Protocol” symposium on Friday, June 15, 2012.  Its keynote speaker is Professor Paul Salzman of La Trobe University, editor of two Oxford World’s Classics editions, Early Modern Women’s Writing, and An Anthology of Elizabethan Prose Fiction.

This symposium is for scholars and postgraduate students involved in the editing of early literary and non-literary texts. ‘Early’ is being interpreted quite broadly, c. 1500-1800, and speakers have editing interests in Shakespeare and early modern drama, early modern poetry and prose, eighteenth-century fiction, early modern women’s writing and early modern historical texts. Papers will also focus on the digital humanities and online editing.

Dr Stephen Clucas Confirmed as 2012 EMTRT Visitor

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 | MICHAEL COP | No Comments

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Stephen Clucas has been confirmed as our Early Modern Thought Research Theme Visitor for 2012.   He will be at Otago for much of August, will be an Instructor at our  ANZAMEMS Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar on the theme “Interdisciplinarity in Medieval and Early Modern Reseach” (29-30 August) and will participate in our conference.

At present, Dr. Clucas is Reader in Early-Modern Intellectual History at Birkbeck College, London.  He is editor of Intellectual History Review and is preparing Thomas Hobbes’s De corpore for the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes. He has recently edited the book Laus Platonici Philosophi: Marsilio Ficino and his Influence with Peter J. Forshaw and Valery Rees and published Magic, Memory and Natural Philosophy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ashgate Press: 2011).

If you would like more information about the Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar, please click on the poster to right and complete the PATS Application Form 2012.