The Newberry Library Colloquium

A Gentleman May Wander: Inheritance, Travel, and the Prodigal Son on the English Renaissance Stage
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4 – 5 pm

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

Michelle M. Dowd, Associate Professor of English, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; 2012-2013 NEH Fellow, Newberry Library

The story of the prodigal son was one of the most popular comic plots on the English Renaissance stage. Featured in over forty plays of the period, variations on the biblical story of the prodigal’s waywardness, journey, and return became especially prominent in the early decades of the seventeenth century. What might help explain this literary trend? Drawing on the Newberry’s extensive collection of early printed plays, travel books, and conduct guides, this presentation will explore the connection between the theatrical resurgence of the prodigal son story and new socioeconomic pressures that were transforming inheritance practices in early modern England.

The Newberry Library Colloquium is a weekly gathering of Newberry staff members, fellows, scholars-in-residence, and readers on Wednesday afternoon in the Towner Fellows’ Lounge. Refreshments are available at 3:30 pm and an informal presentation begins at 4 pm, followed by discussion. The talks are varied, but all relate to the Newberry collections in some way. Speakers may describe a current research project, highlight a particular collection, or discuss one of the Library’s many ongoing or special programs. The Colloquium is open to the public and no reservations are required.

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