George Herbert Society Sixth Triennial Conference--Cambridge

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
The George Herbert Society
contact email: 


The George Herbert Society


The Sixth Triennial Conference

at Cambridge University

George Herbert and Eloquence

18-21 June 2020

In partnership with

Peterhouse College, Trinity College, Magdalene College, and Girton College

 Plenary Speakers: Sidney Gottlieb, Sacred Heart University

Malcolm Guite, Girton College

Helen Wilcox, Bangor University, Wales

Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College

Call for Papers

In 1620 George Herbert was elected Public Orator of Cambridge University, an office that he had eagerly sought and recently described to his stepfather Sir John Danvers as “the finest place in the University … for the Orator writes all the University Letters, makes all the Orations, be it to King, Prince … he takes place next the Doctors, is at all their Assemblies and Meetings, and sits above the Proctors, … and such like Gaynesses, which will please a young man well.” And yet within a decade a not-so-young Herbert would write “The Quip,” mocking the cold comfort of eloquence, of “quick Wit and Conversation” who, “to be short, make an Oration. / But thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.”

Four hundred years after Herbert’s election to the Oratorship, the George Herbert Society will meet at Cambridge to consider Herbert’s notoriously complex relationship with eloquence, rhetoric, and ornament. Gathering at four colleges—Peterhouse, Trinity, Magdalene, and Girton—our conference encourages papers and whole panels that will examine the achievements of Herbert’s verbal arts, as well as their often disruptive (and frequently deliberate) unsuccess. We seek proposals from both established scholars in the field as well as independent scholars, newcomers to the George Herbert Society, and especially graduate students

Though we welcome proposals in all areas of Herbert studies, we particularly seek those focusing on Herbert’s oratory, his Latin and English styles, his principles of preaching, the embedded speeches and sermons in his poetry—as well as on the hierarchical finery and leveling plainness often at odds in his work. We also encourage work on the following Cambridge-related topics: Herbert’s surviving and/or lost orations; his lover’s quarrel with worldly place and power; the relationship between the stratified social order of early Stuart Cambridge and the oratorical culture of compliment and patronage; classical and/vs. biblical eloquence; Latin and/vs. English eloquence; syntactic and/vs. paratactic style; Herbertian self-fashioning revisited; the poetics of unsuccess; and Herbert’s Solomonic persona—from prudential wisdom and public eloquence to critique of their vanity. Other more particularly local and historical topics of interest may include: Herbert’s Cambridge correspondence; Herbert and Sir Francis Nethersole; Herbert’s campaign for the Oratorship; the Orator’s office and career advancement; Herbert, King James I, and Prince Charles/King Charles I; Herbert and the Spanish Match; Herbert and Leighton Bromswold; Herbert, Ferrar, and Little Gidding; Herbert and the Cambridge Puritans of Massachusetts Bay. Other connections to specific colleges: Peterhouse—Herbert and Crashaw; Herbert and Latimer; Herbert and Thomas Campion. Trinity—Herbert’s Trinity College years; Herbert and Bacon; Herbert and Marvell. Magdalene—Herbert and Cranmer; William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity revisited; Herbert and C. S. Lewis. Girton: Herbert and Malcolm Guite. Christ’s—Herbert and William Perkins; Herbert and Milton; Herbert and Rowan Williams. We also would welcome paper and panel submissions regarding the work and legacies of GHS co-founder Elizabeth Clarke.

Abstracts in English of no more than 300 words accompanied by a brief CV should be sent to the conference organizers at, by August 15, 2019.

Notifications of acceptance: October 15, 2019. Early submissions are welcome!

Anyone may submit an abstract, but only GHS members may deliver a paper. 

Information regarding accommodation and registration will follow in the autumn. For ongoing updates, see

George Herbert Society Organizers:

Christopher Hodgkins (University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Director, George Herbert Society); Adele Davidson (Kenyon College); Sidney Gottlieb (Sacred Heart University); Kenneth Graham (University of Waterloo); Simon Jackson (Peterhouse College, Cambridge); Michael C. Schoenfeldt (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor); Anne Myers (University of Missouri-Columbia); Helen Wilcox (Bangor University)



Local Organizing Committee:

Malcolm Guite (Girton College, Cambridge); Simon Jackson (Peterhouse College, Cambridge); Rowan Williams (Magdalene College, Cambridge)