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The Ambassador’s Household: Sir Henry Wotton, Domesticity, and Early Modern Diplomatic Writing

September 28, 2009 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Mark Netzloff wearing a button-up light-colored shirt and glasses standing in front of bookshelves

Monday Seminar:

Mark Netzloff

UW System Fellow (2009-2010)

English, UW-Milwaukee


Netzloff’s paper examines the social and material life of the early modern embassy. In his discussion of the career and correspondence of Sir Henry Wotton, England’s resident ambassador in Venice from 1603-1621, he focuses not on the diplomatic content but, instead, on the embassy itself as a space of residence, domestic business, and social and pedagogical conduct, examining the everyday matters of the embassy: not only gossip, informal espionage, and, yes, even interior decorating, but especially the material practices and social dynamics of letter writing. The circulation of news and intelligence, one of the embassy’s primary functions, conferred a central role to a multinational staff of secretaries, retainers, and correspondents. In its anomalous, extraterritorial position — as a national space beyond the nation and a household outside the familial structure — Wotton’s embassy reimagined “domestic” identities by elaborating alternative affective ties based on adoption, affiliation, and mentorship.


Mark Netzloff is an Associate Professor of English and Literary Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This semester he is also a UW-System Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, where he is finishing a book manuscript entitled Beyond the State: English Stage Agents in Early Modern Europe. He is the author of England’s Internal Colonies: Class, Capital, and the Literature of Early Modern of English Colonialism (Palgrave, 2003) and the editor of John Norden’s The Surveyor’s Dialogue (1618): A Critical Edition (Ashgate, forthcoming). A specialist in Renaissance/early modern English literature and culture, his research is broadly concerned with the interconnections between state formation, nationhood, and colonialism.


September 28, 2009
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States