Friday, December 14 – Saturday, December 15
Selwyn College , Cambridge University
Thomas Traherne (c.1637-1674) was a polymath with a distinctive theological vision. He wrote extensively, but remains a relatively obscure figure in seventeenth-century studies. Traditionally misunderstood as a figure somewhat out of his time, he is frequently considered within the contexts of medieval mysticism or post-Enlightenment Romanticism, when in fact he was strongly engaged with the thought of his age. Traherne read, noted and wrote upon a great variety of subjects – philosophical, theological, literary and scientific – perhaps remarkably considering his geographical circumstances and the relative privacy of his life. His works are grounded in many influences and reveal a great openness as to what writings, ancient and modern, could offer inspiration and guidance. This is a writer that believed, rather emphatically, that it would be possible both to discover and to communicate to others the intrinsic nature of “ALL THINGS”.
The aim of this symposium is to address the interdisciplinarity of Traherne’s work, with the hope of encouraging future interdisciplinary collaboration in Traherne studies. We are particularly interested in bringing together the endeavours of literary criticism – which cover an early and persistent association between Traherne and the metaphysical poets, the historicising of Traherne and a more recent interest in the manuscript evidence – with the fields of theology and philosophy, in which Traherne has been considered as a Christian mystic, an Anglican founding-father, a spiritual brother to the Cambridge Platonists, or a unique theological thinker with relevance to broader discussions on the practice of theology.
This will be the first academic symposium on Traherne since the discovery of the new manuscripts in 1996/7. The works of the Lambeth Palace MS (Inducements to Retiredness, A Sober View of Dr Twisse, Seeds of Eternity and The Kingdom of God) and the unfinished biblical epic, The Ceremonial Law, have opened up previously unknown aspects of Traherne’s thought and shone new light on the more well-known poems, Centuries, Thanksgivings and Select Meditations. We especially welcome papers that focus on the content of the Lambeth MS and The Ceremonial Law, and work that considers ways of responding to the overall question of the symposium: what is the way forward for Traherne studies?
Contacts: Cassie Gorman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Beth Dodd (email@example.com).