Marvell at RSA 2017

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Andrew Marvell Society

For the 2017 RSA in Chicago, the Andrew Marvell Society welcomes submissions on topics such as

• Non-Historicist Approaches to Marvell
• Cognitive/Evolutionary Approaches to Marvell
• Marvell and Holland
• Marvell and Religion
• Marvell and the Duke of Buckingham

Please send CVs and proposals (max. 150 words) to Alex Garganigo ( by 24 May 2016.

Non-Historicist Approaches to Marvell

Historicism has been the reigning mode in Marvell studies for some time now. But as critics such as Derek Hirst and Steven Zwicker have shown, some of his work resists thick historicist micro-analysis; its core lies elsewhere. What new and old methods should we deploy, either in resistance to or in tandem with historicism, to further our understanding of this self-denying, enigmatic writer? Should we return to theory, assuming we ever left it? What can, for example, disability studies or cognitive/evolutionary studies reveal? Marvell's career might look very different through one or more of these grids.

Cognitive Marvells

Bridging the sciences and humanities, cognitive/evolutionary critics have asked questions largely rendered heterodox by the linguistic and cultural turns. What do texts reveal about human nature and the human mind? How do they encode and reproduce mindsets that can prove adaptively useful in different environments, natural and cultural? How do stories represent both competition and cooperation within groups? Marvell's lyrics and satires seem ripe for reevaluation from a perspective that refuses to deny cultural constructionism while also admitting the force of biology and evolution.

The Dutch Connection: Marvell and the Netherlands

We surmise that Marvell spoke Dutch well enough to act as a spy in Holland and that despite the anti-Dutch jingoism of "The Character of Holland," an awareness of literary and cultural developments in the Netherlands informs his work. How, for example, did Dutch newsbooks, pamphlets, and visual culture influence texts as various as Upon Appleton House and The Rehearsal Transpros'd? New perpsectives on Marvell's Dutch connections and influences would be welcome.

Marvell and Religion

The tolerationism and anti-clericalism of Marvell's Restoration writings have been much studied of late. Yet his personal beliefs about the finer points of religious doctrine and discipline have proved harder to pin down, not to mention his involvement in Nonconformist networks of many kinds. Papers on these and related issues, including an apparent flirtation with Catholicism in his youth, can help place Marvell more securely on the map of the seventeenth century's politics of religion.

Marvell and Buckingham

George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, began the Restoration as the richest man in England after Charles II. By the late 1680s, however, he had squandered much of his wealth. Along the way this mercurial figure flirted with religious, political, and even technological movements of many kinds and helped found the Whig party. He was almost certainly a patron of Marvell, whose Rehearsal Transpros'd extends and outgoes the political and ecclesiastical implications of Buckingham and company's The Rehearsal. If we conceive of Buckingham not as the center of a circle of writers but as an important node in a set of overlapping networks of cultural actors, what new things do we learn about Marvell's writings early and late, from the Villiers elegy to the Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government?

See also the CFPs for these sessions in the "Literature CFPs for RSA 2017 Chicago" section of the RSA's website at