Mars, Minerva and the Muses: martial humanism and the early modern soldier-author

WEDNESDAY 22 JANUARY 18.00–19.30

Society for Renaissance Studies Lecture

Matthew Woodcock (East Anglia)

This lecture examines the figure of the early modern soldier-author and the complicated relationship between arms and the arts in Tudor and Stuart England. It discusses the ways in which the early modern lettered fighting man, adept with both pen and sword, represents a significant, though hitherto largely overlooked humanist model that combined the active and contemplative modes. Along the way, we will look at some of the most important and influential intellectual traditions and sources—including Julius Caesar and Niccolò Machiavelli—that shaped the writings produced by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century practitioners and exponents of the art of war.

Matthew Woodcock is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Literature at the University of East Anglia. Educated at Exeter and Oxford, he has published widely on medieval and early modern literature, and written books on Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and Shakespeare’s Henry V. Current projects focus on early modern soldier-authors and the literature of soldiery. His biography of soldier-poet Thomas Churchyard was published by Oxford UP in 2016, and his essay collection Early Modern Military Identities, 1560-1639 appeared in 2019. He also has research interests in early modern pageantry, drama and civic entertainment, and was lead investigator on an AHRC-funded project revising the Records of Early English Drama (REED) volume for early modern Norwich. Woodcock is a council member of the Society for Renaissance Studies and on the organizing committee of the Society’s biennial conference, to be held in Norwich from 7-9 July 2020 (see @SRS2020Norwich).