Document Actions


The Performance and Experience of Domestic Service

In early modern England, domestic conduct literature, legal treatises, and state-sanctioned homilies propagated the ideal of the home as a self-contained system of government; the loyalty of domestic servants was therefore of political significance. Performances of domestic service onstage explored early modern anxieties and fantasies concerning the interference, surveillance, and potential insubordination of the early modern servant, and the conflicts of loyalty and illicit knowledge that domestic service entailed. This half-day symposium brings together historians, literary scholars, and actors to explore the relationship between the experience of servants in early modern England, and the representation of servants onstage. Talks will be illustrated by performances of depositions from church court records and scenes from plays.

You can watch a series of videos relating to the event:

Renaissance Ways of Seeing

How did people ‘see’ in the Renaissance? In this panel discussion Joanne Anderson asks who coloured Mary Magdalen and why it matters, looking particularly at early Renaissance artworks produced in Alpine Italy. Paul Taylor (Warburg Institute) explores the multivalent idea of ‘imitation’ in relation to life and art in the Renaissance. Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck) explores the visionary ‘seeing’ (or ‘skrying’) of John Dee’s angelic conversations. Gillian Woods (Birkbeck) investigates how characters went invisible on the Renaissance stage, and what that tells us about theatrical seeing. The event formed part of Birkbeck Arts Week 2015.

Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures:  A book and some afterthoughts

Professor Leonard Barkan (University of Princeton) discusses his work on the relationship between words and pictures from antiquity to the Renaissance. This event formed part of Birkbeck Arts Week 2013.

Jokes, Laughter, Literature

Dr Adam Smyth on not getting a Renaissance joke - part of series on Jokes, Laughter and Literature for Arts Week 2012