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.