Our speaker writes:

“Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent Lamb should be made Parchment; that Parchment being scribeld ore, should undoe a man”. These words uttered by Jack Cade in the Second Part of Henry the Sixth (quoted from Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio) are the starting point of this seminar, prepared with the assistance of John Pollack. My analysis will be devoted to the discursive genealogy and the possible reception by spectators and readers of several of Cade’s lines: “Burne all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the Parliament of England” ; “Our Fore-fathers had no other Bookes but the Score and the Tally” ; “And Adam was a Gardiner”.  By focusing on Cade’s political language and its  biblical quotations, legal traditions, and historical references, by investigating the presence of numerous  objects of written culture within the play itself, this analysis will try to illuminate the enigmatic, paradoxical, unstable dramatic representation of Cade’s rebellion in Henry the Sixth. The playwright (Shakespeare? Marlowe? Peele, or Greene?) intertwined languages, telescoped times, and attributed to a manipulated and derisory character the actual tropes of medieval egalitarian revolts. It is in such ambiguities that are rooted the many disagreements about the interpretation of Cade’s scenes and the diverse possibilities for staging them.

About our speaker:

Roger Chartier is Emeritus Professor at the Collège de France and Annenberg Visiting Professor in History at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a (quite) annual speaker in the Material Text Seminar. In 2021, he published Éditer et traduire. Mobilité et matérialité des textes (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles) (Hautes Études, Gallimard et Seuil). He has two books forthcoming this Spring: Won in Translation: Textual Mobility in Early Modern Europe, translated by John Pollack (University of Pennsylvania Press), and Cartes et fictions XVIe-XVIIIe siècles (Editions du Collège de France).

Talks will be held live, in person, in the Class of 78 Pavilion, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. They will also be available via Zoom (please contact Aylin Malcolm for details). All are welcome. If you would like to receive details on future talks, please sign up for our listserv using this link or visit the Workshop website.

The Workshop in the History of Material Texts is supported by the School of Arts and Sciences through the Department of English and hosted by the Penn Libraries. The co-directors of the seminar are Professor Zachary Lesser (English), Jerry Singerman (Penn Press, Emeritus), and John Pollack (Kislak Center, Penn Libraries).

Associated with the workshop is the book series in Material Texts published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, which includes many monographs that have emerged from presentations given at the workshop over the years.