SEM 28/01/2022, S. Elsky, “Forgetting Custom? Rebellion in The Book of Sir Thomas More”, Zoom

We are pleased to invite you to the first session of the Paris Early Modern Seminar (PEMS) for 2022, which will be held online on January 28, 2022 from 5.30 to 7pm (Paris time), via Zoom.

Stephanie Elsky (Rhodes College)

Forgetting Custom? Rebellion in The Book of Sir Thomas More

Discutante : Line Cottegnies (Sorbonne Université)

Via Zoom – séance commune à PEMS et au séminaire ShakeS

Participer à la réunion Zoom

ID de réunion : 864 7475 5788

Code secret : 801881

Bio: Stephanie Elsky is Associate Professor of English at Rhodes College. Her first book, entitled Custom, Common Law, and the Constitution of English Renaissance Literature was published by Oxford University Press in their Law and Literature Series in 2020. She has published articles in numerous journals, including English Literary Renaissance and Spenser Studies, and edited collections. Elsky has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Volkswagen Foundation, among others. She is currently working on a second project on women writers, law, and objects.

Abstract: This talk will offer a brief overview of my book Custom, Common Law, and the Constitution of English Renaissance Literature, which argues that the legal concept of custom, central to English common law, was an unexpectedly generative and productive force for English Renaissance literature.  I will then turn to The Book of Sir Thomas More, a play that Shakespeare is generally thought to have revised after its censorship and analyze its depiction of custom’s most extreme political usage: to resist a monarch. Just as custom was invoked to justify popular rebellions during the sixteenth century, so too is it called upon to navigate their contentious staging in Sir Thomas More. The play, I argue, makes use of a customary form of language, proverbs, to recuperate both the May Day rebellion and Thomas More’s silence on the Oath of Supremacy from the damning charge of innovation, to enfold them into time’s continuous flow, and to render its participants members of a political commons. The play thus illustrates custom’s complex dramatic and political charge.

Wishing you all the very best for the new year ahead,