CFP: ‘Renaissance Men in the Middle Temple’

I imagine many of you will remember the teaser announcement made at the last BritGrad, and I hope you’ll be interested in the full call. The conference aims to combine research with practice, and the call invites paper and workshop proposals. It looks to be a good one, but you don’t have to settle for my summary when you can read it all here:

[from the conference site]

Renaissance Men in the Middle Temple

1st and 2nd February, 2013

Middle Temple Hall and Birkbeck College, London

Organisers: Darren Royston and Jackie Watson

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Jessica Winston (Idaho State University), Dr Sarah Knight (Leicester University) and Dr Lucy Munro (Keele University)

Call for papers

The four Inns of Court were, according to Ben Jonson, ‘the noblest nurseries of humanity’.  All highly influential in terms of their members’ legal, political and artistic roles, the Middle Temple proved a particularly fertile context.  At the end of Elizabeth’s reign especially, the Middle Temple saw many of its members involved in the creation, reception and development of literature and performance.  Most importantly, perhaps, the Inn was a training ground for men who came to transgress and challenge societal norms, and whose future careers were to influence disparate areas of life, before, during and after the Civil War: from Sir John Davies’ work on dance, John Marston’s contribution to drama or Robert Cotton’s influence as an antiquarian to, in later years, the political impact of Henry Ireton or Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon.

The early modern Inns of Court have been the subjects of much recent academic work.  Last year’s publications of The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court, edited by Archer, Goldring and Knight, and a History of the Middle Temple, edited by Richard Havery, as well as the 2010 appearance of the Inns of Court REED volume, edited by Alan Nelson, have significantly added to our understanding of the Inns and their interactions with many aspects of early modern culture.

As new volumes open up areas for future academic research, this conference gives the opportunity for established scholars, early career researchers, and post-graduate students, whose interests centre on this area, to contribute current work which focuses on the role of the Inns more broadly or more particularly on the Middle Temple.  Papers which look at their subject in an inter-disciplinary way will be very welcome.

We plan a combination of academic conference and performance over the two days (involving reconstruction of drama, dance and music) and we invite submissions for a 20-minute paper or a workshop, on an aspect of the Inns of Court between 1580 and 1670.  While topics which draw on the wider Inns are welcome, preference will be given to those which focus on the Middle Temple.  Subjects might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The work and influence of individual members of the Inns (Middle Templars, as well as those named above, might be Elias Ashmole, John Ford, John Webster, Edward Sharpham, Richard Martin, John Hoskins, Henry Wotton, Thomas Overbury, Benjamin Rudyerd, Charles Best, John Manningham, Bulstrode Whitelocke…)
  • Inns of Court men as playgoers and readers
  • Dramatic work written by Innsmen and/or staged at the Inns
  • Innsmen and performance, including music and dance
  • Revels, humour and satire
  • The Inns’ impact on contemporary politics and in Parliament
  • Legal education and the impact of an Inns training, including aspects of rhetoric and eloquence
  • The Inns of Court and courtiership
  • Aspects of the physical space and location of the Inns
  • Homosociality at the Inns and/or members’ roles in contemporary convivial societies

Please send an abstract (250-300 words) and a brief biographical paragraph (up to 150 words) to Jackie Watson, Birkbeck College, at by Friday 12th October. We would also welcome joint submissions of 2-3 abstracts that could form a panel.

Conference hosted by the London Renaissance Seminar at Middle Temple Hall and Birkbeck College, London

The London Renaissance Seminar meets regularly at Birkbeck College, London, holding seminars, events and conferences.

See or contact

[Further information from Jackie Watson ( or Darren Royston (

More information on Darren and Nonsuch Dance available at and]


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