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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Self-Commentary in Early Modern European Literature

Palace Green Library

Writers the world over have often accompanied their texts with a variety of annotations, marginal glosses, rubrications, and explicatory or narrative prose in an effort to direct and control the reception of their own works. Such self-exegetical devices do not merely serve as an external apparatus but effectively interact with the primary text by introducing a distinctive meta-literary dimension which, in turn, reveals complex dynamics affecting the very notions of authorship and readership. In the Renaissance, self-commentaries enjoyed unprecedented diffusion and found expression in a multiplicity of forms, which appear to be closely linked to momentous processes such as the legitimation of vernacular languages across Europe, the construction of a literary canon, the making of the modern author as we know it, and the self-representation of modern individual identities.

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University will host an international conference on the topic of self-commentary and self-exegesis in early modern European literature, 26-27 February 2016 at Palace Green Library.

Registration is free. To reserve a place, please email:

Plenary lectures will include Martin McLaughlin (Oxford) on Leon Battista Alberti, John O’Brien (Durham) on Montaigne, and Federica Pich (Leeds) on Italian Renaissance poetry. Eight scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will explore various literary traditions, from Neo-Latin Humanism to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English, French, and Polish literature: Harriet Archer (Newcastle), Gilles Bertheau (François Rabelais – Tours), Carlo Caruso (Durham), Jeroen De Keyser (Leuven), Russel Ganim (Iowa), Joseph Harris (Royal Holloway – London), Ian Johnson (St Andrews), and Magdalena Ożarska (Jan Kochanowski – Kielce). 

Click here to view the conference programme

Contact for more information about this event.

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We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.


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