Organised by The Early Modern Seminar in Scotland (EMSIS)
in conjunction with the School of Humanities at Strathclyde
University. Saturday, 26th March 2011
Will's semantic slipperiness fascinated the Renaissance: in all manner of
English and Scots texts of the period we find 'Will too boote, and Will in over-
plus'. The structural conceit of the opening line of John Donne's poem, 'The
Will' exemplifies a key thematic construct to be found in much early modern
literature and a prevalent intellectual thread in the culture from which this
literature emerges. Donne's poem - this willed enactment of the speaker's last
will and testament to the world he will shortly leave behind in death -
encapsulates the polyvocal qualities of the human 'will' and all that it signifies.
The rich intellectual legacy of the European Renaissance that we, as critics
and researchers, struggle to understand is constructed from the physical and
literary legacies that writers such as Donne, Erasmus, Calvin, Elizabeth I,
Miarlowe, Middleton and others have bequeathed us. It is from these legacies
of authorial 'will' that our very idea of what represents or constitutes the early
modern period has been shaped.
This colloquium will explore the extraordinary malleability of the 'will' and its
various semantic permutations in the context of such issues as subjectivity,
power, logic, desire, freedom, volition, wit, wisdom, theology and metaphysics.
One of its main purposes is to to investigate what power and significatory
force the 'will' possesses, its limitations and the consequences of its lack of
a stable or fixed location, viewed in the context of the aesthetic, political,
theological and philosophical traditions that informed early modern
We would welcome 20 minute papers on the early modern 'will' followed by 10
minutes for questions. Various facets of the 'will' that might be investigated are
listed below, though this is not intended to exclude other perspectives on this
Will as desire or volition: wilfulness, will as voluntas, will as membrum
pundendum (male or female), possession of one's will, excessive willing,
Theological and philosophical wills: freedom of the will, the negation or
undoing of the will, will as futurity, theological debates on the relationship
between the 'will' and fate or predestination; volition and animality.
Literary and legal wills: the exercise or abdication of authorial will or
intentionality, will as testament, framing legal wills, the interplay between
'will' and 'wit'; w/Will as a proper name and authoritative mark.
You are invited to submit an abstract of not more than 250 words
by 14th February, 2011, to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>. You will be notified whether your paper has been accepted by 21st February.