Northwestern University

Thu 5:00 PM

Susie Phillips: Credit Hijinks in Premodern England

debt dialogues graphic

When: Thursday, April 13, 2017
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM  

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room #201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free and open to the public

Contact: Jill Mannor   847.467.3970

Group: Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities

English Department

Category: Lectures & Meetings

More Info


Susie Phillips (English/Northwestern), currently working on Learning to Talk Shop: Mercantile Mischief and Popular Pedagogy in Premodern England, will present "Credit Hijinks in Premodern England."

In the fifteen and sixteenth centuries, multilingual dictionaries and phrasebooks flooded the European marketplace, opening up a virtual classroom to an audience who did not have access to formal education. Far more than practical conversation guides, these bestsellers offered instruction in the pragmatic, and murky, ethics of the premodern marketplace, teaching readers how to take advantage of retailers and cheat customers in up to eight different languages.

Given that almost every imaginable monetary transaction in the period was facilitated by credit, from barbers and apothecaries to wet nurses and monks, it is hardly surprising that debt plays a starring role in premodern language instruction. But these early textbooks do not simply offer lessons in the vocabulary and rhetoric of debt, they provide mischievous dialogues that teach readers both how to collect debts and how to studiously avoid paying what one owes. This talk will take up the debt practices depicted and deployed in these premodern textbooks. 

This talk is co-presented by the Medieval Colloquium; the Early Modern Colloquium; the Department of English; and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities as part of the Institute's 2016-2017 Debt Dialogue Series.

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