Friday, December 30, 2011

Diarmaid MacCulloch Knighted!

Diarmaid MacCulloch, distinguished church historian and member of the Advisory Committee for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, has been named a Knight on the 2012 New Year Honours List.

He is being recognized for "services to Scholarship."

Congratulations to Sir Diarmaid for this singular and richly deserved honor.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Images of the Visual Model

Our hard-working and energetic model builder Josh Stephens has just sent images showing the current state of the visual model. Above is the Cross itself. An image of the current state of the overall model is on our website, here.

These images show shadows. Josh has promised that when the project is complete, the shadows will move across the model as the sun rises in the sky when one listens to the full sermon, all two hours of it.

This image illustrates some of the challenges in trying to reimagine no-longer-existing places.  Our best contemporary image of Paul's Cross is Gipkin's, which shows the Cross like this:

Which shows the Cross as a smaller building than it appears in Josh's model.

Josh's model is based, however, on the measurements for the Cross established by archaeologists who excavated the foundations of the Cross structure in the late 19th century.

Francis Penrose reported their findings in an article in Archaeologia in 1883. They determined that the base of the structure measured 37 feet across and the structure itself measured 17 feet across.

Hence the dimensions of Josh's model.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Website Goes Online!

The website for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project is now up and available for viewing here:


The url for your use is here:

I still have some refining to do, but I'm glad to be through to this stage.

Now, on to FaceBook.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Imagining St Paul's -- the Hollar Drawings

We can imagine how St Paul's Cathedral looked because of the extensive set of engravings of the building made by the Dutch engraver Wenceslas Hollar in the 1650s for William Dugdale in theand printed in Dugdale's History of St. Paul's Cathedral (1658) just in time for the Great Fire to sweep it away.

We can get even closer to the original building because Hollar made pen-and-ink drawings in preparation for his engravings, a couple of which survive.

This drawing by Hollar shows the east end of the building, together with the south transept and the tower. It came to light only in the summer of 2009 when it was sold at auction to an unknown buyer.

If anyone knows how to locate the person making this purchase, please let me know.

Even more significant for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, however, is this pen-and-ink drawing made by Hollar in preparation for the engraving at the top of this post, showing the north side of the Choir, the north transept, and the north side of the nave.

This drawing is in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

It shows, of course, precisely the side of the cathedral where Paul's Cross was located. It does not appear in this drawing because it had been torn down in the mid-1630's as part of Inigo Jones' remodeling of the building. 

This image is as close to the visual appearance of Donne's St Paul's as we are likely to get.

Ben Crystal a Hit in HAMLET in Reno

Here's a strongly positive review of Ben Crystal as Hamlet from the Reno Nevada Sagebrush.

Here's more from the Reno Gazette-Journal. 

Congratulations to Ben for this success!

Ben is playing Hamlet in this production as preparation for playing John Donne in the Virtual Paul's Cross re-staging of Donne's Gunpowder Plot Sermon.

This seems to me good preparation. After all, Hamlet and Donne had lots in common.

Both were most frequently depicted wearing black, both were cynical about the state of the Court, both were given to self-dramatization and impulsive behavior, and both were obsessed with death.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sermon Chosen for Virtual Paul's Cross Delivery

I've settled on the sermon for our virtual John Donne to deliver at the virtual Paul's Cross.

I've chosen Donne's Gunpowder sermon for November 5, 1622, for a number of reasons.

First of all, thanks to Jeanne Shami, who found a manuscript of this sermon with corrections in Donne's own hand in the British Library (British Library MS Royal 17.B.XX),  we have a text of a sermon by Donne that is closer to the actual words spoken by Donne from the pulpit than sermons of his that survive only in their printed versions.

You can read Jeanne's transcription of this sermon, from the website of the Oxford edition of Donne's sermons, here,
or consult her edition of both the manuscript and printed versions of this sermon, John Donne's 1622 Gunpowder Plot Sermon: A Parallel Text Edition (Pittsburgh PA: 1996).

Second, I -- for my own research purposes -- to use a sermon by Donne, and one delivered by him around 1623.

I'm in the process of writing a book on Donne in 1623, anchored by discussions of his roles as royal chaplain, as Dean of St. Paul's, as preacher at the consecration of Trinity Chapel at Lincoln's Inn in March of 1623, and by his illness in the fall of 1623 and subsequent publication of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

By using a Paul's Cross sermon from 1622 for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, I can incorporte our learnings from this project directly into my book project.

Finally - and this is perhaps the most interesting reason of all -- according to the printed version of this sermon, Donne wrote this sermon for "The Anniversary Celebration of our Deliverance from the Powder Treason" and "Intended" to deliver it at "Paul's Cross, but by reason of the weather" he preached it "in the Church."

By using this sermon, we will not be recreating an occasion in which Donne preached at Paul's Cross but will be complying  -- in a virtual sense -- with Donne's intention to preach this sermon at Paul's Cross, although it will have taken nearly 350 years for the weather to improve.

I'm interested in the ontological character of virtual experience and virtual places. By using a sermon intended for this space but not actually delivered there, we will help provoke consideration of this issue. 

Paul's Cross at the College of Design

Leaders Council Annual Meeting Presentations (2011) - David Hill from College of Design at NC State U on Vimeo.
David Hill and I made a presentation to the Leadership Council of the College of Design at NC State University on Saturday, November  5th, 2011 on the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

You may see our presentation if you click on the arrow in the window above.

This was an audience of architects, designers, and supporters of the College of Design. They were especially receptive to the architectural and technological aspects of our project.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Virtual Paul's Cross Project Featured in Design Influence

Our project was featured in the latest (Fall 2011) issue of Design Influence, a magazine published by the College of Design at NC State University, on page 35.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Did Paul's Cross Have a Pulpit?

One of the challenges of reconstructing Paul's Churchyard has been to figure out how to use the evidence that survives from the 17th century.

We have learned, again, what others have said, which is that -- even in the Renaissance -- artists did not have the same notions of verisimilitude in representation that we do. Especially after the camera has accustomed us to images that at least seem to show us what we would see if we were in the spot from which the photograph was taken.

One of our questions right now -- as we begin to model the Paul's Cross preaching station itself -- is where the preacher delivering the Paul's Cross sermon stood when preaching.

Did the preacher stand inside the structure, underneath the roof, with a rostrum to hold his notes? Or did he stand in a pulpit-like structure that extended out in front of the Cross?

In that case, he was physically out from under the ceiling of the Cross structure, as shown in this image:

If we move closer in, we see this configuration, and its supporting structure, more clearly.

If Paul's Cross were configured this way, it would have replicated pulpit design familiar from existing furniture inside cathedrals and parish churches. The preacher would have been clearly visible to a large crowd and would have had space around him for a free range of arm motions to add emphasis to his vocal delivery.

When we examine Gipkin's painting more closely, however, a structure like this is not what we see. Gipkin shows us this detailed image, in which one can see the hourglass and other details, but we do not see a structure like the one in the engraving above.

Given Gipkin's tendency to combine multiple perspectives in the one image, we are not clear as to exactly what we are seeing, but we do not see the extended pulpit structure shown in the engraving.

Either the preacher is standing under the roof of the Cross structure or he is standing on a small platform that places him slightly in front of the larger structure of the Cross.

In either case, he is standing at a small shelf on which he is resting a book bound in black.

An arrangement of space in which the preacher stands underneath the roof of the Cross structure seems to be the arrangement at one of the few surviving outdoor preaching crosses, still standing outside the ruins of the Dominican Friary in Hereford.

This is also the case at the Iron Acton Cross, in Gloucestershire.

Both these are stone structures, with little flexibility in their design or construction. Paul's Cross, built in the late 15th century of timber set on stone steps with a lead-covered roof, was both larger in size and made out of materials more accommodating to variation in design.According to 19th century archaeological research, the stone base of the Cross was 37 feet across and the structure itself was 17 feet across.

A design in which the preacher stands slightly in front of the Cross structure (but not substantially out from under its roof line) seems to have been the arrangement of things at another preaching station in London, also used on occasion by  John Donne. this was the outdoor preaching station at Westminster Palace.

Here, we see an engraving of Hugh Latimer preaching from this outdoor pulpit to Edward VI in the mid-16th century.

Is this what Gipkin is trying to show us in his painting of Paul's Cross?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oxford Handbooks Published

Two handbooks that cover topics important to our project have been published this year by the Oxford University Press.

The Oxford Handbook of the Early Modern Sermon (see image above), edited by Peter McCulloch, Hugh Adlington, and Emma Rhatigan, is a vast compendium of material on the sermon in early modern culture.

Essays by Rhatigan on "Preaching venues: Architecture and Auditories," McCulloch on "Preaching in Context," and Kate Armstrong on "Sermons in Performance" that have already been of great help to me.

The other handbook of interest is The Oxford Handbook of John Donne, edited by Jeanne Shami, Dennis Flynn, and my own colleague at NC State, Tom Hester. This volume also includes extensive discussion of Donne's career as a priest and preacher.

I'm pleased to have McCulloch and Shami on our Advisory Board.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ben Crystal in Original Pronunciation Hamlet

Ben Crystal, the actor who will record Donne's Paul's Cross sermon for us, will be opening in the title role at the Nevada Repertory Company's original-pronunciation production of Hamlet  this week on the campus of the university of Nevada in Reno.

Ben is seen above in rehearsal. He's the actor on the right of the photograph.

This is being billed as a world premiere, of Hamlet "in the Original Pronunciation."

The theater is celebrating the fact that this is the first time Hamlet has been performed in its original pronunciation since the 17th century.

The theater also celebrates this "remarkable international collaboration," in which "a diverse group of world-class artists, directors and scholars will come together to produce this world-class event: the great English linguist and The Globe's own consultant David Crystal, author of "Pronouncing Shakespeare;" British superstar actor and scholar Ben Crystal, who will play Hamlet; the University's award-winning Shakespearean scholar, this production's dramaturge, and co-editor of "The Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of William Shakespeare," professor Eric Rasmussen; and the University's own renowned Nevada Repertory Company, under the visionary leadership of director and department chair, Rob Gander."

Preview performances will be on November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, with opening night on November 4th, and with performances running through November 20th.

Congratulations all around!

I'm delighted David and Ben are part of our project, too. If anyone happens to get to the fruits of their labors in Nevada, please let me know.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Paul's Cross Model Update -- October 28, 2011

The model of Paul's Churchyard continues to grow. Here one can see the Choir of St Paul's almost completed. One can also see our first attempt to model the Cross itself, as well as the beginning of the buildings that were on the outside of the Churchyard.

The red arrow points due west in this model. Here is the same image without the arrow and from a slightly different angle.

I think this looks really cool (or brilliant, for those of you on the other side of the pond).

But the  model can of course be seen from any angle and from any perspective. When Josh Stephens takes me on a flying tour of the space, that's when this really becomes breathtaking.

Here is Josh's first effort to model Paul's Cross itself.

Stunning, I think!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Conference on Paul's Cross at McGill University

McGill University in Montreal, Canada, is hosting a major conference this August 16-18, 2012, entitled Paul’s Cross and the Culture of Persuasion, 1520 – 1640. 

The Program for this Conference is available here.

From our project, Mary Morrissey, Peter McCullough, John Schofield, Jeanne Shami, and I are all on the Program.

My paper will be a report on the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

I think we should call an informal meeting of the Advisory Board while we are in Montreal. I know a number of good restaurants in Old Montreal where we could assemble for food and fellowship.

I hope others of you may join us in Montreal in August. Surely it will be cooler there than it will be here in North Carolina at that time of the year. 

Research Report: Which Way Did the Paul's Cross Preacher Face?

We have been trying to determine in which direction the preacher faced when he preached at Paul's Cross.

The Gipkin painting (above) shows him facing northwestward. This seems a bit odd, since he is facing away from the People of Quality in the Sermon House to his left.In fact, he is facing away from the crowd in front of him.

Another image – an engraving from Speed’s Theatre of Empire – shows the pulpit facing generally southwestward toward the point of intersection between the Choir and the North Transept. 

Other images from the early 17th century – 2 states of a single engraving that appeared in books from the period  – show the preacher facing southward toward the spot along the Choir where the Preaching House was located, although the images do not show the sermon house.

Given this contradictory evidence from the 16th and early 17th centuries, we were puzzled.

Then I read the comparison of the Gipkin with this engraving in the account of the Gipkin painting in Pamela Tudor-Craig's 'Old St Paul's': the Society of Antiquaries' Diptych, 1616 (2004). Tudor-Craig points out that the horse and groom on the right side of the engraving is the same as the horse and groom in the left side of the Gipkin painting. 

Then it occurred to me that an engraving is a mirror image of the original image produced by the artist on the plate. I opened a file of the 1621 image in Photoshop, flipped it horizontally, and got this image:

Suddenly, lots of other echoes of the Gipkin painting stand out. Note the people standing behind the crowd, between the crowd and the cathedral, for example, and the facade of the cathedral itself, which looks a lot more like the facade of the North Transept than it does like the facade of the east end of the Choir. It has a door in it, for example, which the east end of the cathedral did not.

Here, it becomes clear -- at  least to me -- that the engraving showing the preacher facing southward, toward the north side of the Choir, is actually an image of the Gipkin painting, reversed in the engraving process. These images thus are derivative of the Gipkin painting and not primary sources of information about Paul's Cross. 

But can these engravings help us in any way in understanding the design of Paul's Cross? 

David Hill and Josh Stevens, the architects working on the visual model, pointed out that Gipkin chose a position from which to make his painting that, had he made his painting geometrically correct, he would have obscured the preacher. To show all the elements of the scene, we believe it is likely that he turned the Cross preaching station in his mind to bring the preacher into view. 

So, we've concluded the engraving is right about the orientation of the preacher, and about his position a step forward of the roof of the Cross structure, but the Gipkin painting is right in all other ways.

Hence, we decided that the preacher at Paul's Cross faced westward, toward the North Transept, and stood in a small pulpit a step out from under the roof line of the Cross structure itself. 

There are other possible interpretations of the evidence, however, and we plan to provide alternatives in the final version of the model.

Mary Morrissey Publishes Book on Paul's Cross

Mary Morrissey, a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Reading and a member of the Advisory Board for the Virtual Paul's Cross Project, has recently published a new book from the Oxford University Press called Politics and the Paul's Cross Sermons, 1558-1642.

This is a splendid book, from which I've already learned much that is of vital importance for our project. In a relatively slim volume, Dr Morrissey covers an enormous amount of material and presents it clearly, thoughtfully, and engagingly.

The publisher's account suggests the scope of her work:

This book "provides a detailed history of the Paul's Cross sermons from the reign of Elizabeth I until the destruction of the pulpit under Charles I. It explains the arrangement for the sermons' delivery and the tensions between the different authorities (the royal government, the bishops of London, and the Corporation of London) who controlled them. 

"The increasing role that the Paul's Cross sermons played in London's civic culture after the Reformation is discussed, and an account is given of the narrowing of the sermons' audience in the years preceding the English Civil War. 

"The book explores early modern English homiletics, so that preachers' adaptation of sermon genres to suit sermons on religious controversies or on political anniversaries . . . can be described."

 Its good to have Mary on the Advisory Board.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paul's Cross Featured in Story about the NEH's Digital Humanities Grants

I attended a meeting at the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC, on September 27th, 2011.

This meeting was for all Project Directors of Digital Humanities Grants awarded by the NEH in 2010, all 60 of us.

The blog Inside Higher Education had a reporter there named Steve Kolowich.

He wrote a story on the meeting and featured the Virtual Paul's Cross Project as an example of a project that "had to do with enabling learners to 'experience' historical events or places instead of reading off a page."

He goes on: "John Wall, a professor of English at North Carolina State University, said he is trying to recreate the spatial and acoustic dynamics of a sermon in St. Paul’s Square (sic) in order to better understand the likely effectiveness of the “public preaching” that emerged as the preferred method of public relations for church and political authorities in early 17th-century London."

Read Steve's entire story here.

Paul's Cross in the Atlantic Monthly

We had a good chat with Rebecca Rosen, an associate editor at The Atlantic Monthly. 

Rebecca writes for the Atlantic's Technology Blog, so she ran a story about our project on her blog, here.

Paul's Cross on the NC State Website

We were featured on the NC State Blog for Faculty and Research news, here.

Matt Shipman, the writer, said we made him think of a time machine.

St. Paul's Cathedral Rises Again

Here is the visual model of St. Paul's Cathedral and Paul's Churchyard, with the foundations of Paul's Cross, as it looked in September of 2011.

We will continually update this image as Joshua Stephens, the architect who is building the visual model, rolls out new stages of construction.