“Now go we in content/ To liberty” (As You Like It, 1.3)

Writing the Self Beyond the Walls

The urban boom of the English Renaissance offered the nation vast opportunities for growth in culture and commerce, but it also resulted in the escalated confinement of the individual. Especially to those living in London, the space ‘beyond the walls’ was uncharted territory to which they could escape, either literally or in their imaginations. To these adventurers, Nature was not always benign: She was a mother and a nurse, but danger lurked in her shadows. Nevertheless, unconstrained by customs and free from the force of law, individuals could slip away to Nature and begin a process of self-revision.

In this session, Julie Sutherland will provide participants with excerpts from a variety of Shakespeare’s plays and poems in which Nature becomes a chief player. Together we will examine short texts that transport readers into the natural – and supernatural – world. We will consider the ways in which Shakespeare’s characters undergo a metamorphosis when they encounter Nature. In the second half of the session, participants will have the opportunity to write themselves into the green spaces of Shakespeare’s imagination.

Forest Glade