26 Sep 2017 - 27 Sep 2017 All day Barbara White Room, Newnham College


Convenors: Tim Chesters and Raphaële Garrod with Alexander Marr, José Ramón Marcaida and Richard Oosterhoff.

Rationale: This multilingual and interdisciplinary conference concluded the third year or strand of the Genius Before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Modern Art and Science ERC project dedicated to ‘ingenious making’. In 2016-2017, the project team focused on the material and practical cultures of ingenuity in early modern Europe — on the spirited matter and materials used by artisans and artists alike, and on the crafts, skills, and techniques of artisans and artists. Words are one such spirited material, and the deployment of ingenuity or wit found a particularly apt expression in wordplay. The early moderns in turn praised or criticized wordplay — puns, conceits, coinages and the like — as a social display of wit; they also theorised this social, then literary practice. Early modern wordplay thus provides a fresh perspective onto the European practical cultures of ingenuity and their impact on national literatures.  The programme booklet for the event is available here.



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. Funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no 617391.



Tuesday 26 September
12:30 - 13:45

Registration Lunch (for Speakers and Chairs only)

13:45 - 14:00


14:00 - 15:00

Latin (Chair: Richard Serjeantson)

Raphaële Garrod (Newnham College, University of Cambridge) Daedali opera: Erasmus on obscurity

Anthony Ossa Richardson (University of Southampton): Elegantia in Early Modern Criticism and Rhetoric

15:00 - 16:00

Spanish (Chair: Caroline Egan) 

Rodrigo Cacho (University of Cambridge): Quevedo's Black Humour

Christopher Johnson (Warburg Institute, University of London): “Es como hidra bocal”: On witty wordplay in Gracián and Góngora

16:00 - 16:30


16:30 - 17:30

Italian (Chair: Alexander Marr) 

Raymond Edward Carlson (Columbia University): Michelangelo at Play in Words and Images

Ita Mac Carthy (University of Birmingham): Untranslatable Wit: Ariosto's Innuendo in the Hands of Harington and Gay


Dinner for Speakers and Chairs 

Wednesday 27 September
10:00 -11:30

English (Chair: José Ramón Marcaida)

Kathryn Murphy (Oriel College, University of Oxford): Quips, Quibbles, and Conundrums: Early Modern Puns and Scholastic Style

Will Poole (New College, University of Oxford): Logical Fallacy and Some Seventeenth Century Poetry

David Francis Taylor (University of Warwick): Puzzle Pictures: The Arrival of the Satirical Rebus in Britain

11:30 - 12:00


12:00 - 13:00

German (Chair: Richard Oosterhoff)

Sundar Henny (University of Bern): Calling Names: Puns on Proper Names in Early Modern Zurich

Tobias Bulang (University of Heidelberg):“A Book full of Pantagruelisms” – Images and Emulations of Ingenuity in Johann Fischart's German Translation of Rabelais

13:00 - 14:00

Lunch (for Speakers and Chairs only)

14:00 - 15:00

French (Chair: Tim Chesters)

Nicolas Kies (centre Saulnier, Université Paris IV Sorbonne): Is there a Feminine facetudo? Women and Wordplay in Late Sixteenth-Century French Narratives

Jean-Alexandre Perras (Jesus College, University of Oxford): The Equivocal Pun in Light of Classical Theories of the Sign


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk