Shakespeare and Eden: Botanical Ornament and the Book of Nature in Cymbeline, a Lecture by Dr. Bonnie Lander Johnson

On May 5, 2020, the Future of the Humanities Project, in collaboration with the Georgetown Humanities Initiative and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford), hosted the lecture “Shakespeare and Eden: Botanical Ornament and the Book of Nature in Cymbeline” by Dr. Bonnie Lander Johnson (Lecturer and Director of Studies in English at Newnham College, Cambridge University), as part of the year-long series “Christian Shakespeare: Question Mark.

Drawing on printed herbals, biblical exegesis, and theories of ornament, Dr. Lander Johnson argued that in Cymbeline the pre-Reformed theological poetics of the hexaemeron resurface. Reworked from within the secularized demands of the popular theater, these poetics can be seen in the prophetic language of the King as tree, in the folk flower rituals surrounding love and death, and in the Queen’s proto-scientific gardening—all of which were forms of early modern botanical practice that searched for divine truths in the ornaments of the created world.

You can watch Prof. Lander’s lecture here, in conversation with Prof. Michael Scott (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford).