Get in, loser. We’re going Renaissancing.

Installment 2 of cartoons on the theme of ‘I went to the Renaissance Society of America conference in New York, did I mention it was in New York?’ (some Renaissance-themed cocktails here). Anyway, it was pretty giant. Renaissancists as far as the eye can see. I’d never been to a conference that big before, and it was simultaneously pretty damn cool and sorta daunting, especially when working out which one of the dozens of parallel panels to go to next (thanks, RSA app!).

So I drew this guide when I got home. A public service (ahem). In which I (with no seriousness intended whatsoever) engage with several existing stereotypes, and invent some of my own (such as an abiding conviction that the Italianists are getting more than the rest of us).

On Thursdays, we wear lanyards with our names and institutional details on them. And on Fridays. And especially on Saturdays, because we need them to get into the open-bar reception.


You’ll notice I haven’t added ‘Unfriendly book historian hotties’ and that is because a) Everyone I met at RSA was pretty darn friendly, and b) *inclines head and lowers voice creepily* Renaissancists, you’re all hotties.


Renaissance Society of Alcohol, more like

Recently I went to the Renaissance Society of America conference in New York. The jet-setting life of an academic! And I met many excellent people, including people I had only met before on the internet (which was ace) and saw some really interesting papers, and may have developed a deep desire to go to the Folger Shakespeare Library and get a bit overwhelmingly geeky about BOOKS. It is nice, post-thesis, to be reminded how interesting all this scholarship stuff can be.

Before the conference the RSA sent out an email with lots of information in it, one bit of which generated much conversation – the news that the conference was sponsored by a vodka company and said vodka company would be supplying ‘Renaissance-themed cocktails’ at the opening reception. So obviously I whiled away my flight out making a cocktail menu.

Everybody’s talkin all this stuff about me / Why don’t they just let me live / I don’t need permission / Make my own decisions / That’s my prerogative

I mean, would you be able to remember how to spell ‘curacao’ while halfway across the Atlantic in a flying metal tube next to a poor couple who think you are mental because you got all weepy when you watched Frozen?

Leaves not a rack behind, unless you have stolen a rack at some point in the evening

Did you tell that professor of your desire to be ‘mega bros’ with another professor? If not, then I am still winning.

Please only drink the last one I don’t want to be responsible for what the others might do to you

Preparing for my PhD viva, expressed through Black Books gifs

They tell you not to expect a parade when you get examined on your PhD. But, guys, you can have a GIF PARADE.


Trying to do everything I have to do this week


When I find a good bit


When I find a… less than good bit


Planning my entrance


Trying to work out what to actually wear


I am worried I will respond to questions like this


Or like this


And that my examiners will be all like this


…and like this




Things that distract me when thinking about Shakespeare’s Roman plays, a partial list

1. Bro Julius Caesar from Horrible Histories:

2. Asterix, because obviously I spent most of my childhood reading Asterix cartoons

3. This. Oh lawks, the memories:

4. Coriolanus jokes.  I’ll Corio-YOUR… sorry sorry sorry


They play the triumph bit in undergrad Shakespeare lectures and it is DISTRACTING

6. Anything Eddie Izzard has ever said about Romans/Latin:

A can of dog food for small yapper-type dogs (aka the reason I cannot think of Caesar without saying ‘I am played by JAMES MASON’ in my head)

On the audio recording of Definite Article I had on my ipod he described the Cesar dog as a ‘small dog with bushy face’. Once I was listening to it on a train and just when it got to that line I felt something brush my leg. I looked down and a small dog with a bushy face looked up at me. It had slipped its lead and gone for a walk down the train under the seats. Obviously the first thought I had was EDDIE IZZARD IS MAGIC. (Eddie Izzard IS magic. Of course).

7. Cartoons, as usual:

JC 'Danger knows full well / That Caesar is more dangerous than he.' HIGHWAY TO THE CAESAR ZONE

JC (well, his cultural presence in late C16th England) was described as ‘the ultimate Roman’ in one of our undergrad Shakespeare lectures. Related: I can’t draw arms.

Crap you can just imagine their OKCupid profiles can't you

‘Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. / And I bet he doesn’t even lift.’

'I dunno, I'm just here to wear out these shoes'

Oh yes, jokes about Pompey’s ‘triumphs’ could be no.8 on this list

Finally: one of my students alerted me to this today. I had forgotten it, as it’s shamefully long since I saw Mean Girls. It is, of course, glorious.

Richard III comics

So obviously I meant my first blog post after submitting my thesis to be a) posted sooner than nearly two months after handing the damn thing in, and b) a lucid, pithy response to that whole thesis thing. This post is not that. There are plans afoot, though I am not sure of their pithiness or lucidity, but I haven’t managed to do any illustrations for them yet, and in defiance of all reasonable post-thesis expectations I appear to be in something of a work crisis right now.

So in lieu of such a thing, please accept several bad phone photos of dumb cartoons about Richard III. The Shakespeare version, not the actual version, in case any medievalists get mad (never make a medievalist angry. You won’t like them when they’re angry).

Sorry the first picture is well blurry. My phone doesn’t seem to like blue biro. My kingdom for a new scanner (just as soon as I have spent all the money I don’t have on attempting to fix my crappy computer) et cetera.

Nobody went to Richard's party and now look what happened

Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the guy with a G in his name

The disappearance of those princes has left you in a TOWERING rage amiright

This could be any of the women in the play, to be honest. Take yer pick.

richard haterz

I flipping love Richard III. I love how Richard keeps turning to the audience and going ‘Heh! Aren’t I awful!’ You ARE bad, Richard. You’re the WORST. Let’s have an evil disco.

See also the Richard III episode of We Are History, aka one of the greatest historical documentaries ever made.

Also, for balance: a lovely song.

* * * *

And, in memoriam… (sobs uncontrollably) (notes that he is wearing an overcoat in that picture, and THAT is why you can’t see his brooch with the flowers in it, in order to forestall criticism from her father)

Infer-nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…

My friend Linda is reading Dan Brown’s Inferno and she told me the story so far. So I drew it.

There may be some SPOILERS below, I don’t know.

I’ve got no beef with Brown, incidentally. I’ve actually read two of his books, and seen one of the films. I know, shock horror, turn in your History Card Kirsty, etc. They weren’t the greatest cultural experiences I’ve ever had, but as far as cultural phenomena go I’d take them over Twilight. (I have a basic rule that I have to read books before I mock them. I have broken this recently, though, because I am not reading flipping Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Bore Off if I Want Some Hilarious Erotica I’ll Read Thomas Nashe, thanks very much).

Anyway, if you’ve ever thought for some reason that The Divine Comedy needed more lasers, you might like this book, I think.

Damn socialist European healthcare systemAlso somewhat foolish: his demand that people make him a map showing all the churches in Rome, double-quick! In the film he was standing next to a tourist kiosk selling Dorling Kindersley guidebooks, which are exactly the kind of things that might contain maps showing all the churches in Rome. Robert Langdon is not good at symbology, leaps of logic, or personal grooming, but bless his cotton socks anyway.The rest of the novel is just Langdon fighting Phil Daniels in Brighton

The Permissive Archive schedule

(First off, an apology for not having blogged for ages. I have been super busy, for I follow the Way of the PhD, and my journey is approaching its end. There is a proper post brewing, but meanwhile, here’s something I drew for a halfway practical purpose!)

So we organised a conference last Friday! And I illustrated the schedule for the delegate packs. Which is an entirely normal thing to do.

The conference in question was The Permissive Archive at UCL, celebrating the ten year anniversary of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL). It was a tip top conference! There was cake! So much cake. Thank you so much to everyone who came along – speakers, chairs, and delegates, we salute you all. It was a lovely, friendly day, and I really enjoyed meeting people in between the dashing around that comes with conference-organising. And the papers were most excellent. Archival scholarship, it’s for winners. You can read assorted tweets from the day by searching for the hashtag #permissivearchive – thank you to all the lovely people who tweeted, it means a lot.

In particular, I want to stress how blooming awesome my fellow organisers are. You can find some of ’em on Twitter – Lizzy Williamson (@earlymodernpost), Clare Whitehead (@clareapparent), and Helen Graham-Matheson (@helenjgm) – and t’others are James Everest, Nydia Pineda, Will Tosh and Daisy Hildyard, who will all hopefully turn up twitterwards at some point. They are the loveliest bunch to work with.

Anyway, some of this I made on a train.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone by drawing trite things about their papers. In my defence I hadn’t heard them when I drew it…

For more about what on earth we mean by the whole ‘permissive archive’ business, see my earlier scrawlings.