Invited Speakers

Martin ButlerMartin Butler is Professor of Renaissance Drama in the School of English, University of Leeds.

He is the author of Theatre and Crisis 1632-1642 (Cambridge University Press, 1984) and The Stuart Court Masque and Political Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2009). He also edited Cymbeline for the new Cambridge Shakespeare (2005) and The Tempest for the Penguin Shakespeare (2007),

Also, with David Bevington and Ian Donaldson, he is general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and the second release of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online will go live in May 2015.

He is currently completing a book called Ben Jonson, Man of Letters.

Bradin CormackBradin Cormack is Professor of English at Princeton University.

He is author of A Power to Do Justice: Jurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise of Common Law, 1509-1625 (University of Chicago Press, 2007) and of Book Use, Book Theory, co-authored with Carla Mazzio (University of Chicago Library, 2005).

He is co-editor, with Leonard Barkan and Sean Keilen, of The Forms of Renaissance Thought: New Essays on Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and, with Richard Strier and Martha Nussbaum, of Shakespeare and the Law: A Conversation among the Disciplines and Professions (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

He has published on issues of sovereignty in Shakespeare Quarterly, and he is currently working on two books, a philosophical study of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a short monograph on Shakespeare and Law.

Alan CromartieAlan Cromartie is Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.

He is the author of Sir Matthew Hale: law, religion, and natural philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and The constitutionalist revolution: an essay on the history of England (Cambridge University Press, 2006), and the editor of Thomas Hobbes, A dialogue between a philosopher and student, of the common laws of England (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Recently, he was Director of the Leverhulme Trust Major Research Programme ‘The Liberal Way of War’, for which he edited *Liberal Wars: Anglo-American strategy, ideology, and practice* (Routledge, 2015). He is working on a new interpretation of the thought of Thomas Hobbes.

Martin DzelzainisMartin Dzelzainis is Professor of Renaissance Literature and Thought at the University of Leicester.

He is the author of numerous essays, articles, collections and editions, including Milton’s Political Writings (Cambridge University Press, 1991), Marvell and Liberty (Palgrave Macmillan, 1999), co-edited with Warren Chernaik, and Marvell’s two-part satire, The Rehearsal Transpros’d (1672, 1673), co-edited with Annabel Patterson, in The Prose Works of Andrew Marvell (Yale University Press, 2003).

He is editor of the Andrew Marvell volume in the Oxford 21st-Century Oxford Authors series, the co-editor (with Edward Holberton) of The Oxford Handbook of Marvell, and of Volume X: The Histories for OUP’s The Complete Works of John Milton.   In 2014, he will be a Muriel McCarthy Research Fellow at Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin.

Dr Steve HindleSteve Hindle is W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at the Huntington Library.

He is by training a social and economic historian of early modern England, and he previously worked at the University Warwick, where he was successively Director of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, Deputy-Chair and Chair of the History Department.

He currently sits on the editorial boards of the Economic History Review, but also of the journals Rural History, the Journal of Historical SociologyHistoire Sociale/Social History and the Huntington Library Quarterly. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; and has served on the Executive Committee of the Economic History Society; the British Academy Publications Committee for Records of Social and Economic History; and the Councils of the Dugdale Society and the North American Conference on British Studies.

His first book, The State and Social Change in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2000) was an attempt to explore the scale of popular participation in the process of governing rural England in the period c.1550-1640. Its concluding chapter, focusing on the governance of the rural parish, led him to an analysis not only of the social status and political attitudes of office-holders in rural communities, but also to an investigation of the politics of the poor rate. His second monograph, entitled On the Parish?: The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England, c.1550-1750, was published by Oxford University Press in 2004, and was re-issued in paperback in 2009.

Since 2004 he has completed the research for his next project, a monographic study provisionally entitled ‘The Social Topography of a Rural Community: The Warwickshire Parish of Chilvers Coton, c.1600-1730‘, for which he was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship in 2010. The first fruits of this research appeared in 2011 with a study of domestic service at Arbury Hall during the period 1670-1710; and in 2013 with an analysis of the recruitment and remuneration of agricultural labor in the parish.

Rab HoustonRab Houston is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews.

He published three long-term projects in 2014: 

1) Bride ales and penny weddings: recreations, reciprocity, and regions in Britain from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).  2) The coroners of northern Britain, c.1300-1700 (Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2014). 3) Peasant petitions: social relations and economic life on landed estates, 1600-1850 (Houndsmills: Palgrave, 2014).

He is currently working on two projects that have a legal dimension (and others that do not). 1) People-in-space, law-in-space: territoriality and jurisdiction in late medieval and early modern Britain and Ireland  2) ‘“The hard rind of legal history”’: F. W. Maitland and the writing of early modern English social history’.

Lorna HutsonLorna Hutson is Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews.

Lorna’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 (Oxford University Press, 2007; pbk 2011), which won the Roland Bainton Prize for Literature in 2008.

David IbbetsonDavid Ibbetson is President of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge.

His notable publications include but are not limited to: The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History (Oxford University Press, 2009); ‘Sixteenth Century Contract Law: Slade’s Case in Context,’ in OJLS 3:4 (1984), pp. 295-317; and ‘Assumpsit and Debt in the Early Sixteenth Century,’ in CLJ 41:1 (1982), pp. 142-161.

James McBainJames McBain is a SNF Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and Research Associate at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.

His primary research interests focus on the relationship of literary and legal cultures in the sixteenth century, the work of early Tudor poet and playwright John Heywood, and institutional/academic drama – and he is currently completing work in all three areas.

Along with Professor Elisabeth Dutton (University of Fribourg), he co-founded EDOX (Early Drama at Oxford), an interdisciplinary research project that seeks to study, stage and film plays/entertainments that were performed at the University during the early modern period – please see for more information.

Subha MukherjiSubha Mukherji is a fellow at Downing College, Cambridge.  She was educated in Calcutta, Oxford and Cambridge and has taught at Leeds and at Cambridge.

Her research interests centre upon Renaissance literature, particularly on Shakespeare and law and literature.  She is the author of Law and Representation in Early Modern Drama (Cambridge University Press, 2006; pbk reprint 2009).

Her more recent work focuses on the poetics of space, literary form and epistemology.  Mukherji’s current book-project focuses on the uses of doubt, and ways of knowing, in early modern literature.

Joad RaymondJoad Raymond is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary University of London.

He is the author of various books on early-modern newspaper history and print culture, including The Invention of the Newspaper: English Newsbooks, 1641-1649 (Oxford, 1996; 2005), Pamphlets and Pamphleteering in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge, 2003); Milton’s Angels: the Early-Modern Imagination (Oxford, 2010); and the editor of various books including The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, vol. 1: Cheap Print in Britain and Ireland to 1660 (Oxford, 2011).

A collection entitled News Networks in Early-Modern Europe, based on the eponymous Leverhulme Trust funded research network, will be published by Brill in 2015. He is presently editing Milton’s Defences for The Oxford Complete Works of John Milton, and preparing write a book on news in early modern Europe for Penguin.

Carolyn SaleCarolyn Sale is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta.

Her research interests focus on Shakespeare and early modern writing by women. Her primary work is on early modern literature and the law, but extends to early modern performance theory and dramatic theory more generally; early modern conceptions of literary history, and the place of women writers within it; early modern conceptions of the ‘common’ and the popular, especially as these relate to early modern drama in general and Shakespeare’s materialist aesthetic in particular.

She has published articles in The Law in Shakespeare (Palgrave, 2007) and Shakespeare and the Law (Hart Publishing, 2008), and ELH (The ‘Roman Hand’: Women, Writing and the Law in the Att.-Gen. v. Chatterton and the Letters of the Lady Arbella Stuart, ELH 70.4 (2003): 929–961). She has also published on women writers and the courts in The History of British Women’s Writing, Vol. 2: 1500 – 1610 (Palgrave, 2010).

Her work in progress is a book manuscript, “The Literary Commons: The Law and the Writer, 1528 to 1628.”

James SharpeJames Sharpe is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of York.

His initial research was on the history of crime in seventeenth – century England, which resulted in the completion of a DPhil thesis which was subsequently published as Crime in seventeenth-century England: a County Study.

He went on to broaden his researches into this field, completing a number of essays and articles, a general book on crime in early modern England, and a short survey of punishment in England from c.1550 to the 1980s. He is a member of the Committee of the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice, a research network based in Paris which helps keep scholars working in this field in contact with research on an international level.

This interest in crime and law enforcement led James Sharpe to work on a wide variety of court records, and this led to the realisation that since these records were frequently the only source for examining the attitudes of the middling and lower sorts in the early modern periods they could be utilised to explore a range of social attitudes, notably those relating to personal reputation.

1996 saw the publication of James Sharpe’s Instruments of Darkness, a major work on the history of witchcraft in England over the period c.1550 – 1750. At the moment, witchcraft continues to be a subject of considerable interest to him, and he will be researching and publishing further into this field.

awaiting-photoErica Sheen is Senior Lecturer in Film and Literature at the University of York.  

Her book Shakespeare and the Institution of Theatre was published in 2009; recent publications include ‘“Imaginary Puissance”: Shakespearean Theatre and the Law of Agency inHenry V, Twelfth Night and Measure for Measure’ in Shakespeare Survey 66 (2013), and Anti-anti-fidelity: Truffaut, Roché and Shakespeare’ in Adaptation 6.3 (2013).  

Her forthcoming study, Cold War Shakespeare has been supported by research grants from the Harry Ransom Centre, Austin, NYU Tamiment Library, The Harry S Truman Presidential Library, The Getty Research Institute, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.  

She is currently a Visiting Fellow at CAS, LMU Munich, and co-convener of the ‘Cold War Cultures’ and ‘Shakespeare in the Making of Europe’ networks.

Quentin SkinnerQuentin Skinner is Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary University of London, and was previously the Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge.

He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a foreign member of several other national academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

His scholarship, which is available in twenty languages, has won him many awards, including the Wolfson History Prize and a Balzan Prize. Skinner has been the recipient of honorary degrees from many leading universities, including Chicago, Harvard and Oxford. His two-volume study, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought (1978), was listed by the Times Literary Supplement in 1996 as one of the hundred most influential books published since World War II. Skinner’s other books include Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes (1996), Liberty Before Liberalism (1998), Machiavelli (2000), Hobbes and Republican Liberty (2008), Forensic Shakespeare (2014), and a three-volume collection of essays, Visions of Politics (2002). A further collection of essays, From Humanism to Hobbes, is due to appear next year. Skinner is a frequent visitor to the United States, and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton between 1974 and 1979.

Virginia Lee StrainVirginia Lee Strain is Assistant Professor of English at Loyola University, Chicago.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2011, winning The Shakespeare Association of America’s J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize (2011) for the same. Subsequently, she held a Mellon Visiting Assistant Professorship at Vanderbilt University (2011-12) before heading to Chicago. Her research has been supported by fellowships at the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities and the Huntington Library.

Her publications include “The Winter’s Tale and The Oracle of the Law” (ELH 78.3 [2011]: 557-584), “Shakespeare’s Living Law: Theatrical, Lyrical, and Legal Practice” (Literature Compass, forthcoming), “The Ensnared Subject and the General Pardon Statute in Late Elizabethan Literature” inTaking Exception to the Law: Materializing Injustice in Early Modern English Literature.Ed. Don Beecher et al. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015). Another article, on “Preventive Measures: Local Justice and Judgment in Measure for Measure,” is scheduled to appear in a volume on Shakespeare and Judgment. Her monograph, Perfecting the Law: Literature and Legal Reform in the 1590s and 1600s, is currently under submission.

Elliot VisconsiElliot Visconsi is Associate Professor of English and concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. He is also the university’s Chief Academic Digital Officer in the Provost’s Office, where he leads the University’s efforts to implement digital and online learning strategically.

Visconsi works on literature, law, and political thought in the early modern period, ranging from 1550-1800 in England and the Americas. Among the topics of his research and teaching are Shakespeare, Milton, the literature of the Restoration period, and early American literature and culture. He is also actively working on contemporary First Amendment doctrine and writes on the future of free expression in the digital age. Among his recent publications in the early modern field are the following:

  • Lines of Equity: Literature and the Origins of Law in Later Stuart England  (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, April 2008). This book describes the later seventeenth-century literary transformation of equity from a principle of legal interpretation into an ethos of deliberative citizenship. Treating authors such as Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, John Dryden, Henry Neville, Aphra Behn, and Daniel Defoe, this book demonstrates how the newly public enterprise of serious literature helps to create the conditions in which political liberalism can thrive.
  • “King Philip’s War and the Edges of Civil Religion in 1670s London,” in Religion, Culture, and the National Community in the 1670s, eds. Tom Corns and Tony Claydon (Univ. of Wales Press, 2009)
  • “The Invention of Criminal Blasphemy: Rex v. Taylor (1676),” Representations103 (Summer 2008).
  • “Vinculum Fidei: The Tempest & the Law of Allegiance” Law & Literature20:1 (Spring 2008).
  • “The First Amendment and the Poetics of Church and State,” Raritan26:3 (Fall 2006)

In the digital domain, Visconsi is the creator of The Tempest for iPad (with Katherine Rowe) and the founder of Luminary Digital Media, a software company that makes mobile apps for teaching and learning humanities content build around accessible expert commentaries from leading scholars worldwide, designed to enhance student learning by fostering engaged co-creative reading, and grounded in research in the sciences of learning. Now partnered with the Folger Shakespeare Library and Simon & Schuster, Luminary has published seven enhanced Shakespeare editions (Hamlet, Richard III, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth) which are in use on over 33 countries worldwide by more than 10,000 users. This digital platform has been described in the Times Literary Supplement as introducing “a new form of Shakespearean commentary” and has been featured additionally in venues such as The AtlanticUS News & World Report, and Fast Company.

Visconsi is currently at work on his next project, a tradition book entitled “The Struggle for Civil Religion: The Culture of Church and State in Post-Revolutionary England and America”. This book describes the sweeping cultural history of the principle of separation of church and state in the 17th century Anglo-American world, suggesting that literary culture plays a deeply influential role in the development of a constitutional sensibility in which the robust separation of church and state is understood to be best for government and for religion. Moreover, the project argues that it is in the domains of the literary that the concept of “civil religion” emerges. He is also writing two law articles– one on the evolving status of “literariness” in contemporary US First Amendment doctrine and one on the history of hate speech regulation.

a_williamsIan Williams is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Laws at UCL.

His research interests are in legal history, particularly early-modern English legal history (c.1500-c.1640). He has particular interests in the history of common-law reasoning and its interaction with legal theory, as well as common law writing and printing. Ian has recently worked on the idea of the Chancery as a prerogative court and is researching the theory and practice of Star Chamber as a court of equity. He is investigating the utility of speeches in the Inns of Court as a source for understanding lawyers’ legal and political thought as well as co-editing a volume of Landmark Cases in Criminal Law, to which he is contributing a chapter on late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth century larceny.


Jessica Winston is Professor of English at Idaho State University.

Her research focuses on the literary culture of the Inns of Court, especially in early Elizabethan England, and the sixteenth-century reception of Seneca’s tragedies. With James Ker, she is editor of Elizabethan Seneca: Three Tragedies (London: MHRA, 2012). She is the author of articles on Gorboduc at the Inner Temple (Early Theatre, 2005) and lyric poetry at the early Elizabethan Inns (in the edited collection The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court, 2010).

She is currently completing her book Lawyers at Play: Literature, Law, and Politics at the Early Modern Inns of Court.

Andrew ZurcherAndrew Zurcher is a fellow in English at Queens’ College, Cambridge. He has research interests in early modern legal and political culture; manuscript studies and the history of the book; early modern epistolary culture; and early modern Ireland; and has published books and articles on Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and Donne. He is currently collaborating on the new Collected Works of Edmund Spenser for Oxford University Press, and producing a selected edition of Spenser’s works for the 21st Century Oxford Authors series. He is also collaborating on an edition of the correspondence of Sir Thomas Browne, again for Oxford University Press.

He is author of Spenser’s Legal Language: Law and Poetry in the English Renaissance (Brewer, 2007).


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