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. 

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