Choices | Professor Colin Burrow

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Professor Colin Burrow (All Souls College, Oxford) discusses his career in early modern literature

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Professor Colin Burrow is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls’ College, Oxford. His many scholarly achievements include editing the poetry of Shakespeare and Jonson for the Oxford Shakespeare and the Cambridge Ben Jonson as well as an array of publications such as the monographs Imitating Authors: Plato to Futurity (Oxford, 2019) and Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity (Oxford, 2013). He had a leading role in the project team for the Scriptorium early modern commonplace books project, on whose advisory board he sits. He also reviews regularly for the London Review of Books.

'I will talk about my ‘career’ as an early modernist in the early modern sense of the word (OED sense 2: ‘Of a horse: A short gallop at full speed’) and will describe not a series of carefully articulated methodological choices but a fitful series of accidents, in the course of which I (like Tristram Shandy never the hero of my own life) was forged or misshapen as a critic and an editor and whatever else I am. In the course of the talk I will emphasise the value of happenstance and the illusoriness of ‘choice’, and will try to show that we are never fully in charge of our intellectual lives and that this is probably on the whole a good thing.'

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