Registration open: "Cultures of Collecting, 1500-1750"


a one-day conference organised by the Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Oxford

Wednesday 14 June 2017, Corpus Christi College, Oxford

On the 400th anniversary of the birth of Elias Ashmole, we invite proposals that address any aspect of the cultures of collecting in England and Europe, ca. 1500-1750, from any disciplinary perspective, including material culture, art history, visual studies, museum studies, social history, and literary scholarship. Papers might focus on major early modern collectors (Hans Sloane, Elias Ashmole, John Tradescant Jr and Sr), but also lesser-known figures. What were the motives and mechanics of collecting? How did early moderns understand curiosity and preservation; wonder and taxonomy; variety and system? What was the relationship between utility and display? How did Wunderkammern shape and transmit new categories of knowledge? What were the links between cabinets of curiosities and book collections and libraries? How did the practices of collecting shape broader cultural trends? How do literary texts respond to collecting? Is there a connection between collecting objects and the circulation and gathering of commonplaces; between gathering things and gatherings words (or literary invention)? What were the relationships between collecting, biography, and self-expression? How ideological were collections, and how was the politics of collecting expressed and understood? What are the methodological challenges of reconstructing collections today? How can we read catalogues and textual records of now-dispersed collections?

Registration now open.

Conference programme:

8:30 – 9:00 Coffee, registration and welcome

9:00 – 10.30 Collecting and Identity

  • Laura Moretti (St. Andrews), ‘The collection of prints and drawings of the Florentine Niccolò Gaddi (1536–91)’
  • Tim Somers (Queen’s University Belfast), ‘Collecting printed ephemera as a form of early modern autobiography’
  • Peter Davidson (Oxford), ‘Athanasius Kircher's Museum: the Jesuit Microcosm’

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 11:45 Methodologies and Digital Curation

  • Dr Kathryn Eccles and Professor Howard Hotson (Oxford), ‘CABINET: Curating Digital Collections for Teaching and Research’
  • Beatrice Montedoro (Oxford), ‘Collecting Dramatic Extracts in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century’

11:45 – 12:00 Break

12:00 – 1:00 The Text as Collection

  • Ted Tregear (Cambridge), ‘Shakespeare in the Word-Museums’
  • Esther Osorio Whewell (Cambridge), ‘Devotional Dialectics: Lancelot Andrewes’s Preces Privatae and the logic of collecting prayers’

1:00 – 1:45 Lunch

1:45 – 3:15 Collecting Spaces 

  • Joshua Eckhardt (Virginia Commonwealth University), ‘The shelf life of historical context: resorting the Bridgewater library’
  • Jill Whitelock (Cambridge University Library), ‘Cabinets and curiosities: the Dome Room at Cambridge University Library in the early eighteenth century’
  • Leah R Clark (Open University), ‘Objects, Sociability, and the Spaces of Collection in Renaissance Italy’

3:15 – 3:30 Break

3:30 – 4:30 Dead or Alive

  • Rhodri Lewis (Oxford), ‘Beyond the Cabinet: Romans, Egyptians, and Crocodiles’
  • Didi van Trijp (Leiden), ‘Pressing Fish Between Leafs: Collecting the World Underwater in Eighteenth Century Europe’

4:30 – 4:45 Break

4:45 – 6:15 The Social Work of Collecting 

  • Federica Gigante (Warburg Institute/SOAS), ‘From Florence to Bologna: Ferdinando Cospi, Cosimo III and exotic collecting as a means of social and political affirmation’
  • Patricia Phillippy (Kingston University), ‘Hester Tradescant, Elias Ashmole and Gender in the Ark’
  • Maria Franchini (Reading), ‘Collecting for Oneself and Collecting for Others: Constructing and Reconstructing Two 1730s English Parochial Libraries’

6:15 – 7:15 Wine reception

7:30 Dinner for speakers

Ole Worm's Museum
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