Lisa Jardine (1944-2015), literary critic

Professor Lisa Jardine’s death was announced today. Most of the tributes paid so far describe her variously as a historian with at least one other secondary role: a broadcaster (BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, naturally), a public intellectual (The Guardian and The Independent), a biographer, a Renaissance specialist with a special focus on science; and listed her many achievements in academic and public service (honorary fellowship of the Royal Society, chairperson of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, CBE for services to education, chair of the 2002 Booker Prize jury).  Jardine wrote articles for newspapers and radio programmes, contributing regularly to the BBC’s A Point of View. She appeared on Question Time and other TV debates.  Everyone agrees that she was a polymath. Her academic title was Professor of Renaissance Studies at University College, London, and as the Daily Telegraph noted, the title was perfectly apt; she seems to have excelled at everything she attempted.
While we await the formal obituaries, we may remark that, oddly, none of Monday’s tributes mention the fact that she was also a literary critic, although the Telegraph notes her engagement with feminist theory.  Jardine wrote several studies of Shakespeare, most notably Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1983), ‘the first book-length study to take a historicist approach to gender on Elizabethan stage’*,  and Reading Shakespeare Historically (London: Routledge, 1996). With Professor Graham Rees, she was a founding editor of the Oxford Francis Bacon Project. Many of her articles combined literary criticism with cultural observation, sometimes contentiously, such as her critique of Philip Larkin (Guardian, 8 December 1992). Why has her role as critic been edited out of the sum of Jardine’s life and work? To be sure, history and historiography were her first commitments. But let us also remember her commitment to literature, and insist that others remember it in their encomiums.
*Review by Coppélia Kahn, Shakespeare Quarterly 34: 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 489-49.

English Society Event: ‘King Lear’ at the Everyman

The English Society is planning to go and see Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Cheltenham Everyman.
Tickets are a bargain at £12 and are the best seats available so this will be a wonderful evening. Please let Beth Norris ( know before 12pm Friday 6th March if you would like to go.

 The performance is on Tuesday 24th March, and starts at 7:45pm. Please be outside the theatre at 7:30pm to receive your tickets. Information on how to pay will be posted shortly on the societies Facebook page, or please feel free to contact Beth Norris ( with any questions.

 Please be aware tickets are non-refundable due to the commitment to the theatre. The Society looks forward to hearing from you soon!

Guest Editorial: Alex Edwards Reflects on Editing a Seventeenth-Century Playtext

During my third year at University I undertook a Degree Plus Internship, titled Editing a Renaissance Play. Throughout the course of the internship it was necessary to decipher and understand archaic meanings, spellings and punctuation, all of which required extensive attention to detail and long hours researching and reading. Despite the long hours and hard work I have found the internship to be wholly beneficial; it has allowed me to develop a number of skills, such as prioritisation, communication, problem solving and editorial and research skills. All of which will, undoubtedly, come in handy in the working world. These skills look great on your CV and also give you that added extra employability that every employer is looking for; I have also found it to be highly useful to have my work printed and bound in a booklet as an example of my capabilities for potential employers.

Aside from the skills developed throughout the internship it also has a great social aspect, an element that helped to relieve the workload considerably.

All of the interns were English Literature students, and so I think, it goes without saying that the internship and English Literature as a course work excellently hand in hand. However anyone with an interest in editing or 17th century literature would also benefit greatly.

I would urge any student who is considering undertaking an internship to just do it; don’t let the opportunity pass you by. The workload can seem daunting at times, but with the support of your Internship Leader and your colleagues it becomes both interesting and fun, with the added benefit of extra employability and developed skill-sets.​

Guest Editorial: Emma Younger Reflects on Editing a Renaissance Play

As a student, a venture into doing and completing a Degree Plus Internship was a very worthwhile one. It was easy to balance with my coursework, even amongst the pressures of third year and was both enjoyable and interesting. It gives you something extra to talk about on your CV and was a great experience to use to complete the employability award, which is never a harmful thing!
Although I discovered that the editing process was not for me, the whole experience itself was invaluable and enjoyable. I wish I had known about Degreeplus sooner, otherwise I would have most definitely completed more alongside my course.
Degreeplus internships are a great way to gain professional experience and I would recommend this to everyone.

Guest Editorial: Dane Abley on his Editing Internship

I really enjoyed the internship. It was great to have something that I wanted to do to distract from that which I had to do. Not that I allowed it to distract to the detriment of my other assignments and study.

Having previously helped a friend with the editing of his book, I was interested in the process, and the internship allowed me to learn the proper skills of editing, specifically for editing a play. This internship taught me the skills and gave me the confidence to know that I could do a better job, should my friend ask me to work on another of his books, and the confidence to seek out employment in editing.

I haven’t yet started the job hunt, but when I do I’m sure the experience of the internship will make me stand out when applying for a position in editing and / or publishing. I’ll let you know!

Guest Editorial: Newfound Applications of Editing a Renaissance Play Internship by Ashley Vallally

When I decided to apply for the internship offering the opportunity to edit a scene from a renaissance play, I wasn’t even sure if I ever wanted to pursue a career in that field.  Afterwards, I was certain!  Although the play was fascinating, the editing itself was far too meticulous for my scatterbrain. I managed to get a rhythm for the work by the end of the internship, but the thought of doing it day in, day out, filled me with an existential dread. [I completely understand this, Ash! RB]. This said the experience was a good one as I picked up a number of skills in the process and refined some I already had, all while working with an interesting text and fun people.

It’s hard to know what you want to do at the best of times but I think internships allow you to do just that; try a whole range of different occupations to find the right one for you.  Even if like myself you discover the internship you take isn’t exactly what you would want to do later in life, it can help you focus on the things that do interest you and eliminate the things that don’t.  Hopefully a short placement will confirm whether a career is for you, not by a quick skim read of potential duties of a job advert, but through first-hand experience of the role.

Now that I have started applying for jobs (not in editing that is), I’ve found that the internship is a useful encounter that  I can use to help illustrate many of the skills that have been practised more generally over the course of my degree.  For example, now I can talk about things like proof reading and analytic writing in relation to this extra-curricular activity.  On my CV I can now say things like ‘the research and report written while editing a scene for a renaissance play developed and demonstrate my communications skills’ rather than employers having to take my word for it alone. 

Most of all, I think taking internship should be a way of exploring something you find interesting or are drawn to.  Even if you have no intent of taking it any further, if the idea appeals to you then the experience should be a positive one.  It also shows employers that you are more than a statistic, working for grades alone, but an individual with personal interests and the ability to turn you hand to different occupations based on your skills.

Practically applying the knowledge gained from studying English Literature with the internship I participated in was both challenging and exciting.  It opened up a vista of possible opportunities that I had not considered before and helped me understand what I do want.  If undertaking an internship is something that you can do, then I cannot recommend it enough.

Degree Plus Internship: Editing a Renaissance Play


Dr  Rebecca Bailey reports on a very successful student editing project this year.

I am delighted to report on the successful completion of five Degree Plus Internships which have given students the opportunity to gain an understanding of current cutting-edge scholarly editing principles. I spent some time last summer working on my edition of James Shirley’s The Young Admiral (licensed 1633, printed 1637). This is part of an international editorial project to edit all of James Shirley’s works which is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Oxford University Press. James Shirley is a leading Caroline dramatist whose works are being rediscovered so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for students to gain insight into the world of publishing and editing.

Accordingly, in September 2013 a call went out to students across Humanities to undertake the sixth month internship, entitled ‘Editing a Renaissance text: what is considered to be the best practice in making a Renaissance text available to a twenty-first century reader / audience’. Imagining perhaps one or two students might be interested, I was astonished by the overwhelming response and quickly offered five internships rather than the original two places. The ‘lucky’ individuals who gained the internships after excellent interviews and applications were Dane Abley (English Literature and Film, third year), Alex Edwards (English Literature, third year), Ashley Vallally (English Literature, third year) Luke Williams (English Literature, second year) and Emma Younger (English Literature, third year). Their aim was to edit a scene from The Young Admiral of their choice and to discuss their editorial decisions through scheduled meetings. By the end of the internship each student would have a portfolio of their work to show to future employers.

I was really impressed with the dedication and drive of each of my interns. During the sixth months they waded through ninety pages of complicated editorial rules, wrote a report on The Young Admiral, and produced a very professional edited scene, complete with a collation of all changes made to the text and a scholarly commentary. Additionally, the interns reported on this Degree Plus experience to first year students on HM4050: Reading, Writing, Work and contributed to a publishing workshop for second years on HM5302: Renaissance, Revolution, Restoration.

From my perspective, it was fascinating working with students in a different capacity from module tutor and it was a delight to see such enthusiasm and determination resulting in excellent portfolios.  The interns themselves found the experience rewarding if rigorous – which is just as it should be! They have very kindly agreed to share their thoughts with current students as I hope this will encourage you all to explore the wealth of opportunities which are available within the Degree Plus umbrella. Please scroll through to the following student posts.

Image: Sovereign of the Sea, flagship of Charles l’s navy, 1637.