Picture of a reading table?

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A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about Bess of Hardwick’s reading. What I didn’t mention there was the description of the table on which Bess kept her books. According to the 1601 inventory of Hardwick, Bess’s books sat in her bedchamber, next to an hourglass and a mirror. Whilst it’s tempting to imagine these as the early modern version of an alarm clock and a looking-glass, for Bess they almost certainly had a more serious purpose. Continue reading

Public History at Hardwick

As regular readers of this blog will know, the Conversion Narratives team were delighted to welcome Hannah Hogan into our ranks during the spring term. Hannah has written a new blog post, reflecting on her experiences as an intern, working towards the ‘Virtue and Vice exhibition at Hardwick. You can read it over on the web pages for York’s Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past’.

A book that converted…

Robert_Parsons_(1546-1610)

As part of the work of putting together the ‘Virtue and Vice’ exhibition, I got to return to a question that has fascinated me for a long time: women’s reading in the early modern period. Though moralists fulminated against the perils of women’s reading, and warned that it was likely to lead to all sorts of venereal vices, there is good evidence to show that women read widely, and that they enjoyed devotional and religious literature alongside a wide range of fictions, poetry, and other writings. Continue reading

The New Christians of Spanish Naples

ImageWe are delighted to announce the publication of Peter Mazur’s new monograph, The New Christians of Spanish Naples, 1528-1671: A Fragile Elite. Peter’s book takes as its topic the teeming port city of Naples, under the control of Spain. Taking account of the effects of religious warfare and intolerance, Peter – a Research Fellow on the Conversion Narratives project – nonetheless reveals that the diverse population of Naples discovered surprising opportunities for co-existence and collaboration. Continue reading

An inlaid table, as you’ve never heard it before…

On 13th April 2013, visitors to the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall were in for a surpise…

‘Les Canards Chantants’, a talented quartet currently based in York, delighted visitors by singing ‘live’ from the Eglantine table, which is delicately inlaid with wooden sheet music. Visitors were amazed to ‘hear’ the table – some demanded an encore, and others wanted to know if the Canards could get a regular gig!

For me, it was a revelatory experience. Continue reading

‘Cultural Encounters’ lectures available online

Between January and March, we ran a series of public lectures at the York Medical Society Rooms in York, disseminating the results of our research, and the questions raised by the project. We were delighted to welcome a more-than-capacity audience, despite the snow (in March as well as January!). Those lectures are now available to watch online. We hope that you enjoy watching them, and welcome your questions and feedback.

Happy Birthday to the Bard

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday. To celebrate as Shakespeare would have liked, make sure you contemplate your own inevitable decline by listening to Izzy Isgate reading Sonnet 73. Simply click on the link below to listen.

Empty boughs at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire. (c) NTPL.

Empty boughs at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire. (c) NTPL.

Izzy’s recording is included on our ‘Virtue and Vice’ mobile app as part of our thematic exploration of the dissolution of the monasteries. We invited Izzy, a postgraduate student at York, and a talented singer/songwriter, to do the reading in order to reflect the northern roots of our exhibition and its protagonists.

You can read a transcript of the sonnet, along with my explanation, after the jump. Continue reading