Category Archives: Conferences

CFP: ‘Dare to tell’: Silence and Saying in Ben Jonson’

CMEMLL Conference

Friday 1 – Sunday 3 April
Kennedy Hall, School of English, University of St Andrews

A conference in the 400th anniversary year of the publication of Jonson’s 1616 first Folio of Works.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Professor Martin Butler (University of Leeds)
Professor Julie Sanders (University of Newcastle)

World premiere of Ben and Jamie by Brean Hammond

‘Our looks are called into question, and our words,
How innocent soever, are made crimes;
We shall not shortly dare to tell our dreams,
Or think, but ’twill be treason’ (Sejanus (1603), 1.1.67-70)

What does it mean to be called into question, to speak out or to stay silent, to have innocent thoughts, guilty looks, or culpable dreams? Jonson’s plays, comic and tragic, foreground the processes of imaginative interpretation that condition people’s actions, values and their very being.

On this prominent anniversary of Jonson’s publication of his 1616 first Folio of Works, this conference will explore themes of publication and performance broadly conceived to include the following themes:

  • Authority, collective imagination, individual autonomy, and conscience – including as these issues relate to legal authority and questions of freedom of speech and thought, conscience and religion in 2016.
  • Self-consciousness, acting, performance, reception, re-imaginings of the canon.
  • Interpretation, defamation, equivocation, censorship, satire, criminality and innocence.
  • Cultural ideologies, political subversion, social transgressions.

Please send your abstract of 300 words, along with a brief biography that includes your title and institutional affiliation, to no later than 26 February 2016.

The conference will also include:

  • Professor Brean Hammond’s new play about Jonson’s walk to Scotland, Ben and Jamie, at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews.
  • Special Collections viewing of Jonson’s 1616 Folio and related rare books.
  • Performance of a Jonson play and a workshop on Jonson and drama (details t.b.c.).

General questions can be directed to the conference organisers Julianne Mentzer, Peter Sutton and Zoë Sutherland at

Conference website:

Twitter: @jonson_16, #jonson16


CMEMLL Annual Report 2014/15

CMEMLL Annual Report 2015/16

We are pleased to share a report of CMEMLL’s activities for the academic year 2014/15 here.

As you can see, we were rather busy last year with three conferences, a regular programme of reading groups and research events, and the inauguration of the new Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research.

We are half-way through our programme for 2015/16 with a great deal to look forward to in second semester.

See the programme of events and the Annual Report for further details.


Conference: Emotions in the Courtroom

3 – 4 May, 2015
St John’s House, 71 South Street, St Andrews 

The recent surge of interest in the history of emotions has seen medievalists uncover a broad range of new source material recording the affective lives of Europeans in the Middle Ages. A parallel growth of interest in crime and judicial records from ecclesiastical and secular courts has identified these as excellent sources and made clear that the courtroom could be a locus for emotionally charged events. This one and a half day interdisciplinary symposium brings together scholars of law, literature and history to examine the role that emotions played in legal conduct and procedure.

The symposium is free of charge but pre-booking is required before 25th April, 2015. For pre-booking and information, contact:

The symposium has been generously supported by:


Kimberley-Joy Knight (CHE, The University of Sydney)

Jamie Page (University of Durham)

John Hudson (University of St Andrews)


Sunday 3 May

15:00 – 15:30        Registration

15:30 – 15:45        Welcome (Kimberley-Joy Knight, CHE, University of Sydney)

15:45 – 16:45        Hans Jacob Orning (University of Oslo)

“Once again I’m in trouble, as have received the wrath of my master”. Law, anger and mercy in Norwegian courts in the High Middle Ages

Ian Forrest (Oriel College, University of Oxford)

Faith and feeling in late-medieval litigation”

16:45 – 17:00        Coffee break

17:00 – 17:45        William I. Miller (University of Michigan)

Fear and Anger in and around courts, saga style”

17:45 – 18:30        Reception

Monday 4 May

09:30 – 09:45        Late Registration

09:45 – 10:45        Merridee L Bailey (CHE, University of Adelaide)

The use of the law in shaping emotions and merchant experiences in England’s courts of equity”

John Hudson (University of St Andrews)

Frustration leads to anger: laymen and clerics in the courtroom”

10:45 – 11:00        Coffee Break

11:00 – 12:00        Keynote: Stephen D. White (Emory/Harvard University)

Trying to Keep Emotions Out of the Courtroom: Courtliness and Good Counsel in Girart de Roussillon”

12:00 – 13:00        Lunch

13:00 – 14:00        Susanne Pohl-Zucker (Independent Researcher)

Provocation and the Heat of Anger: Diminished responsibility and the judgment of manslaughter in Early Modern Germany”

                              Seb Coxon (University College, London)

Laughter in court: literary models of jest and justice in sixteenth-century German Schwanksammlungen

14:00 – 14:15        Coffee Break

14:15 – 15:15        Elizabeth Papp Kamali (University of Michigan)

The Devil’s Daughter of Hell Fire: The Role of Anger in Medieval English Felony Adjudication”

15:15 – 16:00        Closing Discussion


Conference: The English Legal Imaginary, Part II

The English Legal Imaginary, 1500-1700, Parts I and II

Part I: Princeton University, 17-18 April, 2015

Part II: University of St Andrews, 1-2 May, 2015

 The English Legal Imaginary Part I The English Legal Imaginary, Part II

CMEMLL is delighted to announce The English Legal Imaginary, Part II, taking place in the School of English on 1-2 May, 2015. The English Legal Imaginary, Part II is an interdisciplinary conference involving leading scholars working at the intersections of law, politics, literature and history in early modern England. The conference papers will contribute to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700. Topics include: Roman law and common law, law and drama; law and education; equity, legal reform and literary censorship.

Speakers include: Martin Butler, Bradin Cormack, Alan Cromartie, Steve Hindle; Rab Houston, Lorna Hutson, David Ibbetson, James McBain, Subha Mukherji, Joad Raymond, Carolyn Sale, James Sharpe, Erica Sheen, Quentin Skinner, Virginia Lee Strain, Elliott Visconsi, Ian Williams, Jessica Winston, and Andrew Zurcher.

The registration fees for this conference are: £30 for students and unwaged, and £40 for waged participants. This fee covers lunch and coffee/tea breaks on both days, in addition to the conference dinner on Friday 1, and the closing wine and cheese reception on Saturday 2 May.

Places are limited, so early registration is important. Only those who are registered will be admitted to the conference; there are no drop-in sessions. 

Please register using the following link: The English Legal Imaginary, Part II

Conference Programme:

 Conference Programme 1Conference Programme 2 Conference Programme 3


Conference: Bonds, Lies, and Circumstances

Bonds, Lies, and Circumstances: Discourses of Truth-telling in the Renaissance

An International and Interdisciplinary Conference

21 – 23 March, 2013, School of English, University of St Andrews

Download conference poster

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor John Kerrigan (University of Cambridge)
Professor Andrew Hadfield (University of Sussex)
Professor Lorna Hutson (University of St Andrews)

Can we say that truth has ‘no more faces than one’? Montaigne implies that human relationships with truth are straightforward, whereas our attitudes towards falsehood are complicated by its multiplicity. But how stable is the notion of ‘truth’? Does truth – like falsehood – appear in many forms, and if so, can we ever take it at face value?

Legal, emotional, and spiritual concerns — all vital to truth-telling discourses — are intimately bound in the Renaissance. This conference offers a forum for the exploration of their intersections. The study of legal culture has become increasingly central to the analysis of early modern literary texts, and legal paradigms are inescapable when scholars turn their attention, as many have recently done, to the equivocal power of language to bind people together. We find the legal value of such bonds – in the form of oaths, promises and contracts – going hand in hand with interpersonal relationships and their emotional and spiritual dimensions.

Our objective is to foster debate about the marriage between two clearly connected fields: Law and Literature; and the study of early modern emotion. How do these fields work together? We form bonds; we tell lies; we search for and construct truths: but under what circumstances?

This conference will explore:

  • The connections between law, emotion, and obligation, and how the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries engage with these dynamics.
  • The formation and evaluation of bonds in the early modern world.
  • How public/private spaces affect attitudes towards truth-telling.
  • The relationship between faith, truth, and honesty in the Renaissance.
  • How belief and trust are generated.
  • The binding power of language and rhetoric.
  • Transmissions of knowledge, belief, and emotion.


Modern Humanities Research Association
Society for Renaissance Studies
Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature
Medieval and Renaissance Research Group, School of English, University of St Andrews

General questions can be directed to the conference organizers – Rachel E. Holmes,, and Toria Johnson,