Legal-Literary Imagining: An Early Modern Workshop

Literary–Legal Imagining: An Early Modern Workshop.

11 March 2024. 10.30am – 6.00pm.

New College, Oxford & St John’s College, Oxford.


Literary-Legal Imagining is a one–day workshop, hosted by New College and St John’s College, and supported by CEMS and the English Faculty. This workshop will explore the kinds of research questions that arise from the pervasive overlapping of the legal and the literary in early modern life and texts.




Current doctoral students and recently doctored ECRs will present examples from their work-in-progress, stimulating discussion of how early modernists might approach the legal–literary interface. It will showcase the vibrancy of current work in the law and literature movement and highlight new directions for research in the interstices between these two disciplines.


Speakers: Alex Laar (Oxford); Jonathan Powell (Leiden); Dan Haywood (Oxford); Herin Han (Oxford); and Jake Wiseman (UCL). A keynote will be given by Lotte Fikkers (Leiden), with Lorna Hutson (Oxford) acting as a respondent.


The workshop will be in two parts. In the morning session, Alex Laar will give a paper on ‘Sir Thomas Smith’s Legal Annotations’ at New College Library. At this session, there will be an opportunity to examine annotations made in sixteenth–century lawbooks in New College’s Special Collections.


After lunch at St John’s, there will be two panels and a keynote, with breaks between and time for Q & A at each. The first panel, on ‘Gender, Scripture and Legal Imagining’ will feature papers by Jake Wiseman and Herin Han. The second, on ‘Common Law and Literary Genre’ will feature papers by Dan Haywood and Jonathan Powell. Finally, Lotte Fikkers will give a keynote paper on early modern women’s life-writing in law and literature, with a response from Lorna Hutson and a round-up discussion.


The workshop will conclude with a drinks reception at St John’s.


Registration is free but essential for catering purposes. If you would like to attend, please contact to register by 28 February 2024.


screenshot 2024 01 31 at 4 38 25 pm


Timetable and key information:


10.30am-12pm: New College Library. Alex Laar (Oxford), ‘Sir Thomas Smith’s Legal Annotations’ (with rare books viewing). Attendees should meet at New College Lodge on Holywell Street.


12.15-1pm: Lunch at St John’s. Lunch will be provided free of charge for all attendees.


1pm-2.30pm: Panel 1: Gender, Scripture, and Legal Imagining.

Herin Han (Oxford), ‘Reading Satire in The Lawes Resolution of Womens Rights (1632)’

Jake Wiseman (UCL), ‘Representing Susanna: Law, Literature, and Early Modern English Biblical Culture’.


2.30pm-2.45pm: Refreshments. Refreshments shall be provided free of charge for all attendees.


2.45-4.00pm: Panel 2: Common Law and Literary Genre.

Dan Haywood (Oxford) ‘Editing Edmund Plowden’s Treatise of Succession (1567): a Legal and Literary Endeavour’

Jonathan Powell (Leiden) ‘Common Law Nuisance and/as (Comic) Plot: Plea Roll Narratio and Jonson’s Epicoene, c. 1609’


4.15pm-5.30 pm: Keynote by Lotte Fikkers (Leiden), ‘“A proper garb of piety, modesty, and humility”: early modern women's life-writing in law and literature’. (With Lorna Hutson (Oxford) acting as a respondent).


5.30pm: Drinks reception. A range of alcoholic and alcohol–free options will be provided.