Tag Archives: Law and Literature

Research Seminar: Professor Lorna Hutson (University of St Andrews)

‘Circumstantial Shakespeare’

Wednesday 3 June, 2.00 – 3.30 pm
Watson Seminar Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English 

For a joint event between the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature and The Early Modern Society, Lorna Hutson, Berry Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, will lead a seminar on her most recent book Circumstantial Shakespeare.


Shakespeare’s characters are thought to be his greatest achievement – imaginatively autonomous, possessed of depth and individuality. This view has survived the deconstruction of ‘Shakespeare as Author’ and has been revitalized by the recent emphasis on the collaborative nature of early modern theatre. But belief in the autonomous imaginative life of Shakespeare’s characters depends on another unexamined myth: the myth that Shakespeare rejected neoclassicism, playing freely with theatrical time and place.  Circumstantial Shakespeare dismantles these myths. Drawing on classical and sixteenth-century rhetorical pedagogy, it reveals the importance of topics of circumstance (Time, Place and Motive, etc.) in the conjuring of compelling narratives and vivid mental images (enargeia). ‘Circumstances’ – which we now think of as incalculable contingencies – were originally topics of forensic inquiry into human intention or passion. Shakespeare used these topics to imply offstage actions, times and places in terms of the motives and desires we attribute to the characters.


‘Introduction’ and chapter 2, ‘Imaginary Work’: Opportunity in Lucrece and in King Lear.

Photocopies of these materials will be available for collection from the School of English Office in Castle House, The Scores from Wednesday 27 May.

Lorna’s interests are in the rhetorical bases of Renaissance literature, and in the relationship between literary form and the formal aspects of non-literary culture. Recent work includes the delivery of the Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures, 2012, on ‘Circumstantial Shakespeare’, the editing of Ben Jonson’s Discoveries (1641) for the Cambridge Complete Works of Ben Jonson (2012) and The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (OUP, 2007, pbk 2011), which won the Roland Bainton Prize for Literature in 2008. She is currently working, with Bradin Cormack, on the Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700, and directs CMEMLL, the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature.


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


Research Lecture: Professor Paul Raffield (University of Warwick)

‘Men of Violence, Men of Vision: John Davies and John Marston of the Middle Temple’

Wednesday 11 March, 5.15 pm
Lawson Lecture Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English 

Paul Raffield, Professor of Law at the University of Warwick, will give a paper entitled ‘Men of Violence, Men of Vision: John Davies and John Marston of the Middle Temple’.


In Hilary Term 1598, John Davies entered Middle Temple Hall during commons, concealing a dagger and a ‘bastinado’ under his gown. Davies approached his close friend (and fellow Middle Templar) Richard Martin, with whom he had fallen out, and hit him over the head with the bastinado, so hard apparently that the weapon broke. In this essay, I consider the theme of violence in late Elizabethan England, using the lives and works of Davies and John Marston as a framework within which to examine the causes and effects of violence and rebellion in London and throughout England in the 1590s. I investigate especially the role of early modern lawyers in articulating and restating the classical theory that eternal or moral law was coterminous with natural law, and superior (in the words of Davies) to ‘all the written laws in the worlde’. In the course of the essay, I address the theme of censorship, and the institutional suppression of freedom of expression, in its late-Elizabethan context and with especial reference to the satirical epigrams of Davies. The future Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, was not only one of the most eminent lawyers and jurists of the late-Elizabethan and Jacobean period: he was also one of its most successful poets, the author of Orchestra, or a Poem of DancingHymnes of Astraea; and Nosce Teipsum. I examine the close correlation between law and poetry (and by way of conclusion, through analysis of an early play of John Marston’s, entitled Histrio-Mastix, between law and theatre), concluding that the indivisibility of these aesthetic forms was a salient feature of the early modern legal institution.​ 

Professor Raffield’s research interests include legal history, law and literature, and critical legal studies, and he has published extensively on theatre and the law, with a particular emphasis on Shakespeare. To a considerable degree, his research interests derive from his career as an actor and director, for 25 years prior to his appointment at Warwick. He was the co-organiser of a major international conference on Shakespeare and the Law, hosted by The University of Warwick in 2007: see P. Raffield and G. Watt (eds.), Shakespeare and the Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008).

His other publications include Images and Cultures of Law in Early Modern England: Justice and Political Power, 1558-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), and his most recent sole-authored monograph, Shakespeare’s Imaginary Constitution: Late-Elizabethan Politics and the Theatre of Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2010). This latter volume was nominated for the 2011 Inner Temple Book Prize, awarded every 3 years for a book which has made a profound contribution to the understanding of law in the United Kingdom.  He is also the founding co-editor of Law and Humanities, published by Hart Journals.


Reading Group: Alibis of Empire

Tuesday 17 February, 1 – 2 pm
Garden Seminar Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English 

John Hudson, Professor of Legal History at the University of St Andrews, will lead a reading group on Karuna Mantena’s Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

The texts for this reading group are:

Professor Hudson’s research interests began with law and land-holding in twelfth-century England, and this subject has remained central to much of his subsequent work, leading up to his recent volume of The Oxford History of the Laws of England, 871-1216 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).  Some of his legal history work plays with the applicability to mediaeval situations of ideas from modern legal theory; this work is furthered by his visiting association with the University of Michigan Law School, where he enjoys the title of William W. Cook Global Law Professor. He has two other main areas of research interest –  one is mediaeval historical writing, mostly in England, and the other is nineteenth-century writing on the Middle Ages, and in particular the work of the greatest of legal historians, F. W. Maitland.