The Mental World of Restoration England (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2007 faculty weekend seminar led by Annabel Patterson.

There is evidently a surge of new interest in the reign of Charles II. Work on Milton and Dryden continues, but Marvell studies have taken a leap forward. Historians have brought the Dutch wars into focus, and it is becoming clear that the history of the press and of Parliament in Restoration England can be studied with access to a wealth of records not available for earlier periods. Court paintings and painters like Lely have begun to attract the kind of attention demanded for the art world of Charles I. John Spurr’s England in the 1670s (2000) began the task of relating all the different aspects of the era: the court, the church, the theater, etc., but there remains a good deal of disciplinary compartmentalization. This seminar called scholars in these and other areas for a weekend of sharing and comparing their work, in the hope that from this broader contextualization will come a larger understanding of the period. As many as twelve faculty members with relevant works-in-progress were selected. No papers were read, but the seminar considered collectively whether such a thing as a mental world might be conceptualized, and if so, what its contours might be, mindful of the model provided for the reign of James I in a Folger conference and a subsequent volume (edited by Linda Levy Peck, 1991).

Director: Annabel Patterson is Sterling Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University. Her publications include Censorship and Interpretation (1980, 1994), Early Modern Liberalism (1997), and Andrew Marvell: The Prose Works (2003).