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The Cultural History of Hypocrisy: Late Medieval to Early Modern

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Friday, September 28, 2018
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4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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James Simpson
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Medieval and Renaissance Studies Lecture

The history of hypocrisy in pre-Reformation England is very confined and almost wholly ecclesiological (i.e., the friars as hypocrites). The history of hypocrisy in early modern England is vast and potentially involves every lay person. How do we account for this sudden expansion of the charge of hypocrisy? And how did early modern writers manage that sudden, run-away charge? In this lecture, Professor James Simpson will address these questions--with particular attention to great writers (Chaucer, Langland, Shakespeare)--focusing on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, where Shakespeare's dark vision has it that one can defeat the hypocrite only by ... becoming a hypocrite.

James Simpson is the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English at Harvard University. His most recent book is Under the Hammer: Iconoclasm in the Anglo-American Tradition, published by Oxford University Press in 2010. Read more about Professor Simpson in More Event Information.