Theatres of Learning (conference)

Theatres of Learning: Education in Early Modern England (1500-1750)

A Folger Institute Conference to be held on 15-17 October 2015

Description: Scholars of early modern English literature and history tend to think of education and learning in light of its effects on a particular mind, trend, or event. This conference takes education itself as its primary object of study. It invites scholars to reconsider the transmission of knowledge and expertise in formal and informal settings, between and among institutions and pedagogical practices, and across a wide range of intellectual communities as they investigate the traditional and innovative approaches to learning that co-existed at the time. Invited speakers will renew the historical study of pedagogy in a number of fields: classical rhetorical training, self-improvement, social mobility and advancement, individual and collective educational settings, non-traditional and gendered literacies, the theory and reality of pedagogical practice, extra-institutional learning, learned culture in England and abroad, and the emergence of academic and professional disciplines.

Organizers: Lynn Enterline (Vanderbilt University), Margaret J.M. Ezell (Texas A&M University), Mordechai Feingold (California Institute of Technology), and Nicholas Tyacke (University College London), each a former director of an Institute faculty weekend seminar on a learning institution or aspect of education, and Owen Williams (The Folger Institute). Dedicated to the memory of Christopher Brooks (Durham University), this conference is offered in conjunction with a Folger exhibition on the practice of law in early modern England.

Dedicated to the memory of Christopher Brooks (Durham University), this conference is offered in conjunction with a Folger exhibition on the practice of law in early modern England.

Provisional Program (all presentation titles are subject to change)

Thursday, 15 October


Opening Reception and Conference Registration


Plenary Lecture: “The Ends of Education in Early Modern England”

Sir Keith Thomas (All Souls College, Oxford)

Chair: Kathleen Lynch (Folger Institute)

Friday, 16 October


Practices and Performances of Learning
Chair: Lynn Enterline (Vanderbilt University)
Ursula Potter (University of Sydney) on “Performing Education: School Drama as Tool and Product”
Heidi Brayman Hackel (University of California-Riverside) on “Learning through Gesture”
Richard Serjeantson (Trinity College, Cambridge) on "Learning as a contest: reconsidering the role of disputation in early-modern education"

11:15-12:00: Moderated Discussion

12:00-1:30: Lunch (provided in Great Hall)


Institutional Pathways
Chair: Nicholas Tyacke (University College London)
Lorna Hutson (University of St. Andrews) on “ ‘Places’ of argument, imaginary places: Topical invention in sixteenth-century English law and drama”
Elizabeth Hanson (Queen’s University, Canada) on “Social Heterogeneity and the Forms of Academic Life”

3:00-3:30: Tea Break

3:30-4:15: Moderated Discussion

Saturday, 17 October


Plenary Lecture: “Learning and Transforming Conventional Wisdom: Reading and Rhetoric in the Elizabethan Grammar School”

Peter Mack (University of Warwick)

Chair: Owen Williams (Folger Institute)


Learning in London and Elsewhere
Chair: Margaret J.M. Ezell (English, Texas A&M University)
Ian W. Archer (Keble College, Oxford) on “The London Guilds and Cultures of Knowledge”
Elizabeth Mazzola (The City University of New York) on “Virtual Learning in the Pre-Digital Age: Martha Moulsworth, Margaret Cavendish, and Female Autodidactism”
Nick Popper (College of William and Mary) on “Travel, Tutors, and Texts: Learning about Europe in England and Abroad”

11:30-12:45: Lunch (provided in Great Hall)

12:45-1:30: Moderated Discussion


Transformations of Learning, 1550-1750
Chair: Mordechai Feingold (California Institute of Technology)
Carol Pal (Bennington College) on “Men, Women, and the Republic of Letters: Transmissions and Transformations of Learning”
Jean-Louis Quantin (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Sorbonne) on “England and the Continent: The Transformations of Ecclesiastical History”

3:00-3:30: Moderated Discussion

3:30-3:45: Break


Closing Forum

With Lynn Enterline, Margaret Ezell, Mordechai Feingold, and Nicholas Tyacke

Chair: Kathleen Lynch

5:00-6:30 Closing Reception