Plenary Speakers

William C. Carroll (Boston University)


William C. Carroll is Professor of English at Boston University. Among his publications are The Great Feast of Language in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’, The Metamorphoses of Shakespearean Comedy, and Fat King, Lean Beggar: Representations of Poverty in the Age of Shakespeare. He has also published the following scholarly editions of early modern plays: Thomas Middleton, Women Beware Women (New Mermaids); Shakespeare, Macbeth: Texts and Contexts (Bedford Shakespeare); Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Arden Third Series); Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost (New Cambridge); and Thomas Middleton, Four Plays (New Mermaids).

Among his other professional activities, he has co-chaired (with Coppèlia Kahn) the Shakespearean Studies Seminar at the Mahindra Center for the Humanities at Harvard University since 1992. In 2005–6 he served as President of the Shakespeare Association of America. At present he is Co-General Editor (with Tiffany Stern) of the New Mermaids Drama Series.

The Bridge to Padua: London Theatre and Early Modern Constructions of Masculinity

This paper will examine one aspect of the two-way cultural traffic between London and Padua: how the city of Padua figured in debates about the nature of masculinity in the theatres of early modern London. Invariably known primarily for its university – the alma mater of William Harvey, a tourist attraction for Chaucer, Sidney, and Milton – the name ‘Padova’ became synonymous with ‘erudition’. While learnedness was in theory a positive quality, the place of learnedness in a declining honor culture and its complex role in constituting masculinity remained a contentious subject. English writers by turns envied or scorned the learning acquired in Italy, and invocations of Padua resulted in a series of contradictory figures in the drama of Shakespeare, Middleton, and Webster: doctors, pedants, enlightened philosophers, murderers for hire.

Margarete Rubik (University of Vienna)


Margarete Rubik is Emerit Professor of English Literature at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research interests range from Restoration and eighteenth-century literature to the nineteenth-century novel and modern drama. She has published widely in these fields, including studies on The Novels of Margaret Oliphant and Early Women Dramatists 1550 to 1800. She has edited the works of Delarivier Manley and Eliza Haywood (Eighteenth Century Women Playwrights, Vol. 1) and volumes on Aphra Behn and her Female Successors, on Revisiting and Reinterpreting Aphra Behn, and a special issue of Women’s Writing on Aphra Behn. She has compiled an annotated bibliography of Aphra Behn for OUP online and is working on a new edition of Behn’s The Younger Brother for CUP. She has also published collections of essays on Intertextual and Intermedial Rewritings of Jane Eyre, on Stories of Empire, on Theory into Poetry, on Rive Gauche, on Staging Interculturality, and on Ireland in Drama, Film and Popular Culture.

The House, the City, and the Colony in the Works of Aphra Behn:
Gendered Spaces and the Freedoms and Dangers They Afford

Spaces in the Restoration period were gendered – the indoor space being considered appropriate for women, the outdoor public space for men; however, in the works of Behn the house, the city and the colonies afford divers freedoms and threats for both men and women. Indeed, none of these spaces is entirely safe or unproblematic.

The city is the realm of tradesmen and merchants, whom Behn despised; and of prospective cuckold-makers. The only urban places to which unaccompanied upper class women are given approved access are churches – but in Behn’s works, they are places of flirtation, not of devotion. And in The Fair Jilt a rape is attempted in the very confessional – nota bene by a woman, with the priest as her victim. Apart from churches, parks, streets or the Royal Exchange allow upper-class women in disguise mobility and the freedom of meeting strangers, but also harbour the danger of rape when they are mistaken for prostitutes. However, streets are dangerous for men as well, who get embroiled in duels and brawls – and in treacherous political intrigues.

Nor are domestic spaces necessarily safe for either women or men, although patriarchs try to confine their daughters there to safeguard their chastity. Silvia in Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister is seduced in her father’s house by her very brother in law; Julia in The Luckey Chance is sexually violated at home with her husband’s connivance – although Restoration law would not have classified husband impersonation as rape. Frequently, of course, the situation is reversed, and women find opportunities to cuckold their spouses at home under their very noses. In “The History of the Nun”, a long-absent husband is summarily murdered by his wife, who in the meantime has taken another husband. Blunt in The Rover is lured to a prostitute’s room and robbed of all his clothes there. So indoor spaces are hardly safe for men either.

The colonies were primarily regarded as spaces where men made their fortunes. Indeed, the “ladies” visiting Surinam in Oroonoko excite considerable notice, but have little power to save the hero. For black slaves – no matter whether male or female – the colony is obviously a place of confinement and death. To the female narrator, however, the new world affords amazing freedoms, and to lower-class men and women ample opportunities of social mobility.

Society may have regarded particular spaces as appropriate or safe for a particular gender; but Behn herself does not ‘gender’ spaces and often makes a point of reversing expectations.

Ramona Wray (Queen’s University, Belfast)


Ramona Wray is Reader in Renaissance Literature at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is the editor of the Arden Early Modern Drama edition of Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (2012), the author of Women Writers in the Seventeenth Century (2004) and the co-author of Great Shakespeareans: Welles, Kurosawa, Kozintsev, Zeffirelli (2013). She is the co-editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts (2011), Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century (2006), Reconceiving the Renaissance: A Critical Reader (2005), Shakespeare, Film, Fin de Siècle (2000) and Shakespeare and Ireland: History, Politics, Culture (1997). Her articles on Shakespeare appropriation and early modern women’s writing have appeared in Early Theatre, Shakespeare Bulletin, Shakespeare Quarterly and Women’s Writing.

From Oxfordshire to Palestine and back: The global imaginings and local geographies of Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland

Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland, who is perhaps best known as the author of the first play published by a woman, started her literary endeavours early, translating Ortelius’ The Mirror of the World in 1597 when she was just eleven years old. The translation features descriptions of China, India, the Holy Lands and elsewhere and announces Cary’s interest in the cultural and religious practices of ‘other worlds’, preoccupations she will return to throughout the rest of her writing life. This paper reads across Cary’s oeuvre to identify a spectrum of global imaginings – Old Testament locations, classical sites and European regions – and contrasts these with the more quotidian geographies of her material existence (her movement between Ireland, Burford, Oxfordshire, and London as she became increasingly disenfranchised and destitute). A final section considers the afterlives of Cary’s works so as to suggest how her material legacies – manuscripts, portraits, monuments and performances – illuminate a writerly career in which global and local interests were inextricably allied.