About Religion, Literature, and Humility

Religion, Literature, and Humility

Today, we live in a pride culture, not a humility culture. That is, we link self-knowledge to pride and self-esteem, rather than to humility. In contrast to this view, Jennifer Clement argues that humility has a fundamental part to play in our understanding of religion and early modern literature. In this talk, Clement discusses her recent book, Reading Humility in Early Modern England, in the context of the “turn to religion” in early modern studies, a recent development in literary criticism that resists the New Historicist tendency to either ignore early modern religion or else to conceptualize it as politics by other means. Early modern literature evokes humility in tandem with the ancient invocation to “know thyself,” and represents humility as the virtue most necessary to realizing this invocation. This talk explains why it matters to read early modern humility against the grain of twenty-first century celebrations of pride to understand early modern literature in historical context.

Jennifer Clement is a Lecturer in English at the University of Queensland, where she works on the intersection of literature and religion in the early modern period. She is affiliated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, and her current research focuses on rhetoric and the passions in early modern sermons. She has also published in the field of adaptation studies and on the image of Elizabeth I. This talk stems from her first book, Reading Humility in Early Modern England.


Room 208, Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)