Paideia Text and Issues lecture featuring Nancy Simpson-Younger

A sleeping body on stage is thought to have little importance. It is just a body sleeping. However, according to playwrights and scholars of early modern England, the sleeping body was considered a cipher that holds secrets about its own identity and culture. Does the community at large have a responsibility to protect the sleeper's original identity? How can we confirm that this secret identity is who the sleeper really is?

Nancy Simpson-Younger, Luther visiting assistant professor of English, will attempt to answer these questions and more in her lecture "Watching the (Secret) Sleeper in Early Modern Drama," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall.

Her lecture, the last in the Paideia Text and Issues "Secrecy and Transparency" series, is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Using examples from three early modern plays, Simpson-Younger argues that the Renaissance stage creates an ethical realm in which the watchers of the sleeper should protect the sleeper's physical and metaphysical integrity, even without completely understanding who the sleeper is. By investigating and examining the effects of the situation, Simpson-Younger asks what it means to act responsibly toward an unknowable person in the Elizabethan or Jacobean era and what it means for us today.

Simpson-Younger joined the Luther English department in 2013. She received her bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches a wide range of courses at Luther including Shakespeare, Literature and Medicine, and Detective Fiction.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,400, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Nancy Simpson-Younger