Papers Presented at National and International Conferences

“The Nose-Wise Renaissance: Serres and the Phenomenology of the Early Modern Literary and Olfactory Imagination.” Pre-circulated paper for “New Histories of Embodiment” (Gail Kern Paster). Shakespeare Association of America. Vancouver, BC. Apr. 2015.

  • Awarded: Shakespeare Association of America Graduate Student Travel Award
  • Awarded: Edward J. Ray Travel Award for Scholarship and Service

“Base Excrement and Sweet Balms: Smelling Donne’s Perfumes.” Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. New Orleans, LA. Oct. 2014.

  • Awarded: Arts & Humanities Graduate Research Small Grant

“Smelling Civet & Smoke: Odoriferous Bodies on the Early Modern Stage.” Pre-circulated paper for “Shakespeare, Performance, and the Senses” (Farah Karim-Cooper.) Shakespeare Shakespeare Association of America. St. Louis, MO. Apr. 2014.

“Smelling the Violet in Henry V.” Pre-circulated paper for “Shakespeare, Phenomenology, and Periodization” (Jennifer Waldron and Ryan McDermott.) Shakespeare Association of America. Toronto, ON. Mar. 2013.

  • Awarded: Edward J. Ray Travel Award for Scholarship and Service
  • Awarded: Arts & Humanities Graduate Research Small Grant

“‘Love Perfumes All Parts’: The Olfactory Erotics of Robert Herrick’s Poetry.” Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. Cincinnati, OH. Oct. 2012.

  • Awarded: Society for the Study for Early Modern Women Graduate Travel Grant

“Smelling Sanctity in the Time of Milton: Religion, Politics, Incense, and the Contemplative Life.” Pre-circulated paper for “Matter, Perception, and Cognition in the Renaissance” (Elizabeth Spiller.) Shakespeare Association of America. Boston, MA. Apr. 2012.

  • Awarded: Shakespeare Association of America Graduate Student Travel Award
  • Awarded: Edward J. Ray Travel Award for Scholarship and Service

“‘Do You Smell a Fault?’: Detecting and Deodorizing King Lear’s Distinctly Feminine Odor.” Renaissance Society of America. Washington, DC. Mar. 2012.

“The Nasal Ethics of Thomas Dekker’s The Wonderful Yeare.” The Sixteenth Century Society Conference. Fort Worth, TX. Oct. 2011.

  • Awarded: Society for the Study for Early Modern Women Graduate Travel Grant

“Oglio del Scoto: Medicinal Cannibalism in Jonson’s Volpone.” Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies. Philadelphia. Nov. 2008.

Papers Presented at University-Wide and Regional Conferences

“‘Who would be insane enough to want Shakespeare dead?’: Banning Macbeth in Thailand.” Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference. Columbus, OH. Oct. 2015.

“The Paradox of English Civet in Shakespeare and Donne.” The Premodernist Graduate Conference Program. The Ohio State University: Columbus, Ohio. Apr. 2014.

“Blood Sensations: Seeing, Smelling, and Touching Blood on the Renaissance Stage.” Northeast Modern Language Association. Boston, MA. Mar. 2013.

  • Awarded: Northeast Modern Language Association Student Travel Award

“‘Do You Smell a Fault?’: Detecting and Deodorizing King Lear’s Distinctly Feminine Odor.” Also presented at Translatio: Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association’s Conference, Columbus, OH. Oct. 2013.

“Base Excrement of Earth: the Paradox of Early Modern English Perfume.” Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference. Cleveland, OH. Oct. 2013.

Awarded: The M. Rick Smith Memorial Graduate Student Essay Prize

“Fee Fi Fo Fum, Identifying the Smell of an Englishman in Shakespeare’s Second Henriad.” Northeast Modern Language Association. Rochester, NY. Mar. 2012.

  • Awarded: Northeast Modern Language Association Student Travel Award

“A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet: Historicizing Scents in Renaissance England.” Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum. OSU, Feb. 2012.

“The Nasal Ethics of Thomas Dekker’s The Wonderful Yeare.” Also presented at Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference. Michigan State University, MI. Nov. 2011.

“‘That the Sense Aches at Thee: A Taxonomy of Odors on the Early Modern Stage.” O What Learning Shakespeare Is!: OSU’s Theatre Department’s Graduate Conference. Columbus, OH. Feb. 2011.

“The Taming of The Taming of a/the Shrew: Shakespeare’s Source and Revision.” Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference. Toledo, OH. Oct. 2010.

“‘Do You Smell a Fault?’: Detecting and Deodorizing King Lear’s Distinctly Feminine Odor.” Also presented at MCC Scholars’ Day. Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY. Mar. 2009.

“Raleigh and Regina: Exploring the Body Politic.” Northeast Modern Language Association. Buffalo. Apr. 2008.

“Purgation and Punishment in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Talking Trash: Rethinking the Abandoned, the Recovered, and the Depraved. The Graduate Center, CUNY. Feb. 2008.

Panels Organized

Panel Chair, “Senses, Sexuality, and Spirituality.” Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. New Orleans, LA. Oct. 2015.

In recent years, the focus on Renaissance body has continued to develop and create more nuanced foci. Early modern sensory history has been the focus of several interdisciplinary projects that examine diverse discourses of the body in medical, scientific, religious, legal, philosophical, and literary texts. Although there is an increased interest in early modern sensory studies, the visual realm remains the most studied. This panel, then, has papers that focus on the non-visual sensorium: epistemology of the ‘five wits,’ the extra-textual social knowledge of music of Shakespeare’s later plays, and the ‘thingness’ of civet-based perfumes. This panel turns to depictions of the five senses that marry together the sacred and the profane by exploring how the sensual and the sanctified are both embodied. From the saint’s ascetic disciplining of the body–denying the body food or creature comforts, wearing hair shirts and flagellation–to the poet’s lush descriptions of aesthetic luxuries–enjoying the banquets at a country house, sniffing the hair of sweetly scented mistresses, the exquisite beauties of dewy rose–both sacred and profane types of writings focused on the sensing body. At the same time, early modern medicine, plague pamphlets, and religious treatises focused on the diseases and desires of the sensing body. Together, the papers in this panel explore aspects of knowledge and sensation and consider the various ways they inform Renaissance drama, poetry, and religious thought.

Panel Co-Chair, “Shakespeare’s Blood.” (WITH CHRISTOPHER MADSON (PHD UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO). Northeast Modern Language Association. Boston, MA. Mar. 2013.

Julius Caesar mocks his wife’s ominous dream:
“She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,
Which like a fountain with a hundred spouts
did run pure blood: and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.” (2.2.76-79)

This seminar will look at various representations of blood in Shakespeare’s plays. From intense physical moments of bleeding on the stage, to abstract concerns around legitimacy and primogeniture, papers will focus on issues of humoral theory, embodiment, stage properties, and kinship.

Marjorie Garber, in “Shakespeare After All” (2004), claims that “Macbeth” is a play obsessed with blood in its literal, symbolic, metonymic, and paternal meanings: “For it is the word blood, in all its forms that haunts Macbeth. Where some have blood in the sense of family, issue, children, and lineage, others–like the childless Macbeth and Lady Macbeth–have blood in the sense of bloodshed, ultimate disorder rather than orderly sequence, death rather than life, the end of a line rather than a line without an end. With the coming of Banquo’s ghost, we find Macbeth almost resigned to this inevitable idea of blood: ‘It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood” (716-717).

Yet this importance of blood permeates many of Shakespeare’s works. From Gail Kern Paster’s humoral “laudable blood” to Lady Macbeth’s prayer for amenorrhea, from the late Caesar’s “wounds, poor dumb mouths” to Coriolanus’ warlike “bloody brow,” Shakespeare’s plays are steeped in and ooze of blood. This seminar will question the various, complex ways contemporary scholarship engages with the idea of blood in early modern drama and culture.

Participants will submit and pre-circulate papers a month prior to the conference in Boston. Each participant will be responsible for responding to several papers in preparation for our meeting. In addition, participants will prepare discussion questions for the group and will prepare an extended abstract for their paper.

At the 2012 NeMLA convention in Rochester, we successfully ran a similar seminar themed around experiences and literary representations of smell, taste, and touch in early modern Europe. The seminar-style format was well received by both participants and audience members.

Panel Co-Chair, “Dissecting the Lower Sensorium: Understanding Smell, taste, and touch in renaissance literature.”(WITH CHRISTOPHER MADSON (PHD UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO), Northeast Modern Language Association. Rochester, NY. Mar. 2012.

This NeMLA seminar will examine Renaissance drama and poetry via the history of the lower sensorium—the senses of smell, taste, and touch. Though the lower senses were often relegated to a secondary position in medical and philosophical texts, they defined every moment of a subject’s daily movements through his or her world. From the taste of the bread and beer that comprised most meals to the overwhelming range of smells that filled every crevice of the early modern city, men and women understood and maneuvered their bodies, encounters, desires, and labor through the three senses comprising the lower sensorium.

As occurred in the Renaissance, these grounding faculties are too often overlooked in contemporary scholarship. Yet, one could argue that no reading of Shakespeare’s King Learcan be considered complete without a thorough conversation about the lower sensorium, as smell (Lear’s stench “of mortality” on his hand), taste (Albany attempts to restore order by claiming, “All friends shall taste the wages of their virtue, and all foes the cup of their deserving”), and touch (Gloucester learn to “see [the world] feelingly”). Here—as in any number of texts from the period—understanding the influence and language of taste, smell, and touch refocus the text’s meaning.

Participants will explore aspects of knowledge and sensation and consider the various ways they inform Renaissance drama, poetry, and thought. Papers are encouraged to cover a variety of genres from the period, including religious texts, iconography, cookbooks, and courtesy books. Does understanding how Renaissance subjects experienced the lower sensorium push us to read canonical texts differently? Areas of investigation could include the influence of fashionable aesthetic movements; variations in perception; a range of moral, bodily, and geographic cartographies; cultural issues integral to the arts of gesture; the influence of smell and touch on memory and emotion; and the influence of these senses on literature and thought generally.

Participants will pre-circulate works focused on better understanding how various works of poetry, drama, altered mythologies, and medical texts gave meaning to (and often redefined) bodily senses foundational to the subject’s experience of his or her world.

Panel Co-Chair, “Cannibalistic Thinking in Early Modern Texts.”(WITH CHRISTOPHER MADSON (PHD UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO),Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Philadelphia. Nov. 20-23, 2008.

“I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive than eating him dead”
–Michel de Montaigne, “Of Cannibals”

The popularity of cannibalism as a topic in essays and in literary and dramatic representation is reflected in the quantity and variation of early modern works that deal with the topic. While the Brazilians Jean de Lery encounters in his History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil are made all the more primitive by their cannibalistic practices, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus invokes a perfect revenge against Tamora in having her eat her children. Post-colonial scholars and psychoanalysts have long claimed that cannibalism nearly always parallels with the conquerors’ desire to define
oneself in opposition either the body consumed, or the bodies that consume. If the secular concept of cannibalism represents the Englishmen’s destructive desire to consume other cultures by imagining their social habits as being less than human, then that idea is made all the more complex when we consider the practice’s sacred origins.

From religious and mythological sources such as Ovid’s Philomela, Hesiod’s Theogony, and the Tantalus myth to the Christian tradition of communion, early modern Englishmen were becoming increasingly introspective of both the Catholic concept of transubstantiation and the non-western European ideologies introduced during the Renaissance. This language of cannibalism and the ideas associated with it become a rhetoric of difference and it permeates the English imagination, filtering itself through the period’s poetry, drama, and essays.

This panel looks to explore the various ways that cannibalism is portrayed and enacted. Who are the players in cannibalism? Who gets to eat whom? If cannibalism represents a power struggle, is it confined to a certain classes, specific ethnic or racial groups, or unique social interactions? Panelists should consider the various ways that the term cannibalism can be defined, and the effects those definitions have on the ideologies used to construct the early modern body.

Panelists may look at cannibalism from any historical or theoretical perspective, including: religious, feminist, post-colonial, or Marxist modes of inquiry, amongst others. Suggested texts to consider could include:

  • Early modern reinterpretations of Greco-Roman cannibalism myths
  • Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
  • Essayists writing on encounter or cannibalism specifically
  • Metaphysical poetry
  • Early travel narratives
  • Anticipations of “A Modest Proposal” and The Dunciad

Panel Chair, “Problematic Shakespeare.” MCC Scholars’ Day. Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY. Mar. 21, 2009.


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