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Masterclass – Prof. Nigel Smith (Princeton University)

Politics and Literature in Early Modern Europe

Date: 12 December 2017
Time: 11-14.30hr
Venue: Amsterdam, Bushuis F 0.21
Open to: scholars, PhD students, (R)MA students, scholars
Credits: 1 ECTS (for PhD and RMa students only)
Coordination: Prof. Lia van Gemert
egistration: Maximum participants in this event: 25
Register here
Register before: 1 december 2017

In this masterclass professor Nigel Smith (Princeton) will give a lecture about one of his key research themes: relations between politics and literature in Early Modern Europe. After general discussion and a lunch break participants can discuss their own themes with professor Smith. The session after lunch will also be open for participants who have not sent in questions.

Nigel Smith is William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature at Princeton University. He previously taught at the University of Oxford. He has published mostly on early modern literature, especially the seventeenth century; his work is interdisciplinary by inclination and training. His major works are Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon (Yale UP, 2010; pbk 2012), a TLS ‘Book of the Year’ for 2010, Is Milton better than Shakespeare? (Harvard UP, 2008), the Longman Annotated English Poets edition of Andrew Marvell’s Poems (2003, pbk 2007), a TLS ‘Book of the Year’ for 2003, Literature and Revolution in England, 1640-1660 (Yale UP, 1994) and Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 (Oxford UP, 1989). He has also edited the Journal of George Fox (1998); the Ranter pamphlets (1983; revised edn. Pluto Press, 2014); co-edited with Nicholas McDowell the Oxford Handbook to Milton (Oxford UP, 2009, pbk 2011), and with Sara S. Poor, Mysticism and Reform 1450-1750 (Notre Dame UP, 2015). His new study Polyglot Poetics: Transnational Early Modern Literature is forthcoming: it explores the migration of literature and writers across political and linguistic borders in early modern Europe. The Dutch Republic is a central component of this work.

In this masterclass prof. Nigel Smith (Princeton) will present his views on relations between politics and literature in Early Modern Europe. He will go into various themes:

  • How can we read early modern literature in a political way?
  • The crucial relationship between form and ideology.
  • What is agency in early modern literature and its dissemination?
  • Semantics, syntax and tropes in controversial pamphlets, plays and poetry.
  • Gender, sexuality and politics; ‘queer reading.’

co-organizers and related events:

  • co-organizers; ACSGA (Van Gemert); Huygens/KNAW (Bloemendal)
  • related event: Golden Age Seminar, 12 december 2017 by prof. Nigel Smith, 15.30-17.00, VOC-zaal Bushuis. The title of this lecture is: Public Spheres in the Tri-State-Zone: Batavo-Anglo-Franco Literary Politics, c. 1630-1680. See


day planning (incl. coffee and tea, and lunch breaks)

  • room open: 10:30
  • coffee and tea: 10:30-11:00
  • 11-12:30 Lecture with general discussion
  • 12:30-13:15 lunch in Bushuis: participants take care and pay for their own lunch
  • 13:15-14:00 Discussion on themes that the participants have sent in or bring up during the masterclass

Preparation and proposed readings and assigment:

  1. Participation in first and second part of the masterclass (so before and after lunch)
  2. A clear description of the questions you have for prof. Smit, linked to a clear description of your research theme and the steps you have already taken or would consider to take. The maximum number of questions is 3. Questions must be sent in before 4 December (to and cc to
  3. The Golden Age seminar in the afternoon is not obligatory for obtaining the 1 EC credit.

Reading for preparation:

  • Nigel Smith, ‘The Politics of Tragedy in the Dutch Republic: Joachim Oudaen’s Martyr Drama in Context’, in Gvozdeva, K. Ospovat and T. Korneeva, eds., Dramatic Experience: The Poetics of Drama and the Public Sphere(s) in Early Modern Europe and Beyond (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2016), 220-249. Online access:
  • Andrew Marvell, ‘An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’, in The Poems of Andrew Marvell, ed., Nigel Smith, Longman Annotated English Poets Series (Harlow: Pearson-Longman, 2007), 267-280.

Extracts will be taken from:

  • Joachim Oudaen, Servetus (1655).
  • Joachim Oudaen, Haagsche Broeder-Moord, Of Dolle Blydschap (1673).
  • Andrew Marvell, ‘An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ (June-July, 1650).

After general discussion and a lunch break participants can discuss their own themes with professor Smith.
Please sent your questions by 4 December to Prof Lia van Gemert and c.c. to  Paul Koopman: