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.