The Early Modern Reading Group (EMRG) aims to provide a forum for faculty and graduate students to discuss new work in English Renaissance studies and the early modern period more broadly. By focusing on new research and primary sources, EMRG provides discussion opportuities with the potential to generate new ideas about non-canonical primary texts that might otherwise be outside one’s usual research interests.

Our inaugural attends to drama, a genre that engages several disciplines across the UIUC campus–yoking together students of literature, theatre, history, and anthropology, among others–and at the core of the organizers’ research interests. Under theauspices of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH), we hope this reading group wil engage a variety of communities, garner their participation, and enrich their discussions. The official group description from IPRH is as follows:

Focusing on the early modern archive, the EMRG will read a generically-circumscribed set of texts curated to recreate their potential intertextualities and interrogate literary canonicity. Participants meet monthly to discuss one primary text and secondary readings, generating a conversation to result in a research symposium. The 2014-15 academic year will focus on the repertory of the Lord Admiral’s Men to reconstruct what Evelyn Tribble calls a “cognitive ecology” of the early modern English cultural archive.

The goal for this first year of the EMRG is to meet monthly to discuss one (or two) of the Admiral’s Men plays, the hot ticket of late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century London. One or two pieces of recent scholarship relevant to the theatre history of the play for that month will also be pre-circulated in order to facilitate discussion. As the EMRG builds up a repertory of the Admiral’s plays, we will be able to talk about them as a group, recreating playgoers’ mental furniture of shared knowledge about these texts and their intersections. A conference for which graduate students can submit papers and at which scholars in the field specializing in playing groups is in the works, as we aim for it to cap this kind of in-depth group study. There will also be the potential for an online publication of the conference proceedings with IDEALS.

To read and discuss together, to build up a vocabulary about what makes this repertory distinct together, and then facilitate that analysis with other scholars in a coference settingthese are our goals. We hope you’ll join us!

Elizabeth & Carla

An IPRH Reading Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign