Religion, Culture, and Recreation in Shakespeare's England (seminar)

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This was a spring weekend faculty seminar held from March 19 to March 20, 1999.

What was the religion of Shakespeare's England (and of William Shakespeare himself)? And what was its culture? Did this generation still share a single all-embracing culture (and should we talk of 'popular' culture and religion)? Or was this the moment when there was a fragmentation into discordant cultures? The possible faultlines which this seminar hoped to explore include those running between the culture (and religion) of the visual and mimetic and the new world of word and print; new and old attitudes towards traditional recreations; and the moral tensions associated with newer cultural forms, including theatre. Whether the notion of Puritanism can be invoked as a description, or even explanation, for cultural change is a problem we found difficult to avoid. Over the course of an exacting weekend, the seminar explored specific topics of interest to the participants within these interrogative frameworks. Background reading in both original sources and the modern scholarly literature was assigned in advance of the weekend. Those selected to participate were expected to submit position papers or samples of their projects for distribution in advance of the seminar.

Director: Patrick Collinson is Regius Professor of Modern History, Emeritus, at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (1967 and 1990), The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559–1625 (1984), and of particular relevance to this seminar, The Birthpangs of Protestant England (1988), among numerous other publications.