Tag Archives: Lorna Hutson

CMEMLL/ILCR Round Table: Law and Drama in Early Modern England

Capture1-4 pm, 5 May, 2016 
Kennedy Hall, School of English, The Scores 

Round Table Speakers

Quentin Skinner, Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities, Queen Mary, University of London, author of Forensic Shakespeare (2014)
Andrew Zurcher, Queens College, Cambridge, author of Shakespeare and Law (2010)
Lorna Hutson, St Andrews, author of The Invention of Suspicion (2007) and Circumstantial Shakespeare (2015)


1 pm – catered lunch in the Stephen Boyd Room
2-4 pm – Round Table Discussion in the Lawson Room 

Preparatory Reading

All Welcome


Reading Group: Interpreting Literature, Law, and Constitution (I)

Tuesday 6 October, 12:30-2 pm
Old Seminar Room, 71 South Street, School of History

The first CMEMLL Reading Group and the first meeting of the Institute of Legal And Constitutional Research will take place next Tuesday lunchtime (6th October). We’ll meet in the Old Seminar Room on the first floor of 71 South Street at 12.30pm for a sandwich lunch, with the Reading Group on ‘Interpreting Literature, Law, and Constitution (I)’ starting soon after 1pm and finishing in time for people to teach at 2pm.

The Reading Group will involve an introduction by John Hudson and Lorna Hutson followed by discussion on the theme of ‘Literature, Law and Constitution’.

The background reading is Chapter 1 of Christopher Warren, Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680 (Oxford: OUP, 2015), available at:


We look forward to seeing you there.


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


Reading Group: Ben Jonson’s Everyman in his Humour

Tuesday 18 November, 2014, 1-2 pm
Garden Seminar Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English

Lorna Hutson, Berry Professor of English Literature and Julianne Mentzer, Ewan & Christine Brown Ph.D. Scholar in the School of English, will lead a reading group on Ben Jonson’s Everyman in his Humour, scenes 3.5 – 5.5.

The texts for this reading group are:

Lorna and Julianne have provided the following introductory text as a way in to the materials:

Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour (1598 and 1616) is mainly known for setting the fashion for a satirical ‘humours’ comedy of urban types and for listing Shakespeare among its first performers.

Yet from Act 3, scene 5 to the final scene, the play seems preoccupied with the question of how far the behaviour of literate gentlemen should be under any kind of legal surveillance. This might not seem surprising, but social historians have recently interpreted 16th century ‘law-mindedness’ as part of the emergence of civic consciousness and state formation. Steve Hindle argues that that participatory legal practices such as the ‘practice of appearing before magistrates to swear the peace, to request that an opponent be bound over’ were crucial to state formation and the expansion of the public sphere in this period (The State and Social Change, 97).

Jonson pays close technical attention, from 3.5 to 5.5, to the practices of binding over to keep the peace and of constables searching ‘suspicious’ houses. We have given you pp.11-18 of William Lambarde’s The Duties of Constables (1602), where Lambarde discusses the keeping of the peace.  Constables may

  1. break into a house where there’s an affray to ‘cause the peace to be kept, though none of the parties have taken hurt’ (15-16)
  2. arrest suspected persons or persons ‘who haunt any house, where is suspition of baudrie’ (p. 12)
  3. search ‘suspected houses’ where there might be ‘fornication’ (p. 18).

In 5.1, Justice Clement hears the case of multiple suspected adultery involving Cob’s house, and dismisses it; in 5.2 and 5.3 he hears the cases of Bobadil’s breach of peace complaint against Downright, and Downright’s case against Stephen for theft. If we think this is just a comedy in which a ‘merry’ magistrate (3.5.41) achieves a more ample justice by mocking law’s formalities, then how are we to think of the radically licentious attitude that it seems to permit, by enabling the gentlemen to use sexual suspicion to effect a clandestine marriage? What are the consequences for female sexual honour (Bridget’s)? What are the social politics here, and the attitudes to urban violence?

We look forward to seeing all you on 18th November.

Lorna Hutson’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.

Julianne received her BA in English and Philosophy (with University and College honors) in 2008 from Carnegie Mellon University. As an undergraduate student, she was awarded the Posner Internship to create an exhibition of Elizabethan portraiture and fine and rare books. She continued her studies at Carnegie Mellon, and received her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies (distinction) in 2009. During her time at the university and thereafter, she worked as a Teaching Assistant for the College of Fine Arts and the Philosophy Department. She received her MLitt in Renaissance Studies from the University of Strathclyde in 2010 (under the Scottish Institute for Northern Renaissance Studies), holding the Clan Donald National Scholarship.

Julianne Mentzer’s PhD project, supervised by Professor Lorna Hutson, explores representations of male friendships, primarily in dramatic texts. She is currently exploring the manner by which male homosocial friendship and fellowship developed through textual means, that is, from humanist underpinnings at grammar schools, through the exchange of textual knowledge, and the focus on developing rhetorical skills of persuasion.


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, reh32@st-andrews.ac.uk, and Toria Johnson, taj3@st-andrews.ac.uk.