Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


VIRTUAL IAS Book Launch: Prodigality in Early Modern Drama

10 November 2021, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm


We welcome Dr Ezra Horbury (UCL) to launch their new book. Introduction by Prof Raphael Lyne (University of Cambridge) and discussion/interview by Dr Mary Odbert.

This event is free.

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This monograph, Prodigality in Early Modern Drama (Boydell and Brewer), investigates how ‘prodigality’ (immorally excessive spending) evolved from a personal moral failing into a celebrated societal boon during the early modern period. It draws new connections between gender and spending against the contexts of familial and religious authority and illuminates a crucial concept in the development of proto-capitalism. Through close readings of Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton, and other dramatists, contextualised alongside philosophical and theological approaches to spending and excess, it offers the first definition of early modern prodigality.

The launch will open with an introduction by Prof Raphael Lyne (University of Cambridge), outlining the key issues the book addresses and contextualising its contributions. It will then move into a structured discussion/interview between Dr Mary Odbert (Shakespeare Institute) and the author to cover the book’s generation, its major contributions to the field, the content of its five chapters, and the other work it has informed.

All welcome. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day, and follow this FAQ link for more information and to read our virtual events code of conduct. All of our events are free, but you can support the IAS here.

About the Speakers

Dr Ezra Horbury

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCL

Dr Ezra Horbury completed their Ph.D at the University of Cambridge and is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College London. Their research interests span the cultural uses of religion and the gendering of non-normative embodiment and they have published widely in journals spanning literature, theology, and queer theory. Their current research studies the cultural uses of the margin in early modern bibles, while their forthcoming research investigates early modern transgender bodies.

​​​​​​​Prof Raphael Lyne

Professor of Renaissance Literature and a Fellow and Director of Studies at Murray Edwards College at University of Cambridge

Prof Raphael Lyne is Professor of Renaissance Literature and a Fellow and Director of Studies at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. His early research focused on the classical influences of English writers in the 16th and 17th centuries, but he turned increasingly to Shakespeare and then to the connections between literary criticism and cognitive science. He has published four books: Ovid's Changing Worlds: English Metamorphoses 1567-1632 (2001), Shakespeare's Late Work (2007), Shakespeare, Rhetoric and Cognition (2011), and most recently Memory and Intertextuality in Renaissance Literature (2016).

More about ​​​​​​​Prof Raphael Lyne

Dr Mary Odbert

Dr Mary Odbert earned her PhD at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute where she focused on early modern corporeal identity. Developing on her earlier work in blood across conceptual and visceral contexts, she pursued an interdisciplinary approach to the homeostatic corpus within identity formation. This is being developed into a monograph, titled Corporeal Selfhood: Visceral Identity in Shakespeare and Early Modern Medicine. Alongside her work with the body, she is also interested in material cultures, queer theory, adaptation, and the occult. Her latest work explores the social and cultural impacts of infection during the Dancing Plague of 1518.

More about Dr Mary Odbert