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The University of Southampton
Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture

'Enclosure and Image Making: An Ecocritical Reading of Early-Modern Libel' Seminar

9 November 2015
Building 65/Room 1173 Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Stephen Watkins at .

Event details

Part of the CMRC Seminar Series 2015/2016

This paper will take as its focus a libel case tried in the court of Star Chamber whose incidents took place in the small village of Over Compton, Dorset, in 1617-18. The dispute involved two libellous texts, a letter with suggested Latin epitaph and a set of mock-commandments, which were strategically placed in the local landscape in order to occasion performance; this case, though, had at its core deep-seated local unrest over land ownership, enclosure and land-use change. The paper will investigate the image that the two libel texts sought to create of local landowner Andrew Abington and the impact this appears to have had on his reputation within the local community; it aims to explore this libel case as a performed snapshot of early-modern communal attitudes towards the environment and the problems of land-use change. Can we begin to discern an environmental ethos in early-modern communities? And if so how did these communities employ topical trends for libel as well as ritual and festive traditions in demonstrating this? The paper will go on briefly to suggest the broader scope of environmental concerns, beyond enclosure, during the early-modern period as evidenced by selected Acts of Parliament. Above all, though, it will demonstrate the importance of performed libel as a vehicle for the expression of key issues affecting the provincial communities of the early-modern period.

Speaker information

Dr Clare Egan , University of Huddersfield. Research Interests include: Media Studies, New Media, Medieval Studies

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