Conferences & CFPs

Upcoming conferences
Calls for Papers

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Early Modern Women on Politics and Ethics

October 5–7, 2023

The University of Gothenburg, Sweden

In Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, Aristotle conceived ethics and politics to be both interrelated and exclusively male endeavors. This notion continued to be influential in the early modern period (c. 1500 – 1800). Yet in recent decades, feminist scholarship has showed that throughout the early modern world numerous women nonetheless discussed, developed, and challenged politics and ethics in profound and often surprising ways. 

The conference Early Modern Women on Politics and Ethics is organized by the Early Modern Seminar and the research network Philosophy in Other Words, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. It is dedicated to early modern women’s engagement with politics and ethics as philosophers, authors, critics, translators, editors, artists, patrons, salonnières, pamphleteers, political agents, letter writers, etcetera. 

Multidisciplinary in scope, the conference will bring together scholars working in various scientific fields. We especially welcome contributions that concern underexplored geographical contexts, languages, and traditions. 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to 

Marginalized voices in politics and ethics 

Genres of political and ethical writing 

Representations of political and moral authority 

Subversive political and ethical thought 

Global perspectives on politics and ethics 

Public and private agency 

Material aspects of politics and ethics 

Reception and circulation of political and ethical thought 

Ethics and politics of sexuality 

Politics and ethics in religious contexts 

Confirmed keynotes 

Unn Falkeid, University of Oslo 

Carin Franzén, Stockholm University 

Dena Goodman, University of Michigan 

Marie-Frédérique Pellegrin, Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University 

Melissa E. Sanchez, University of Pennsylvania 

To submit, please send a 300-word proposal for a 20-minute paper and a brief biographical note to by February 1, 2023. Notice of acceptance will be given by March 1, 2023. 

Organizing committee: Maria Johansen, Cecilia Rosengren, Matilda Amundsen Bergström, Alexandra Herlitz, Philip Lavender. 


Past conferences

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Hormuz 1622: Connected Histories and Transcultural Receptions

Online and in person at Cohen Quad, Exeter College, Oxford, 11 March 2022

Organisers: Edmund Herzig (Oriental Studies, Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre), Ladan Niayesh (Early Modern English Studies, Université Paris Cité)

Sponsors: Centre for Early Modern Studies (Oxford), Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre, Faculty of Oriental Studies (Oxford), Hakluyt Society, ERC-TIDE, Exeter College, British Institute of Persian Studies, LARCA (Université Paris Cité), the Iran Society

The idea of this international conference originated in exchanges with the Centre for Early Modern Studies and the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre on the occasion of my visiting fellowship there. We chose the topic for its potential to yield a collaborative event and a dialogue of disciplines at Oxford and beyond (Oriental studies, English studies, Iberian studies, etc), using a wide array of methodological tools (global and imperial history, literature and art history, classical and cultural studies, etc).

Ladan Niayesh's report on the conference can be found here.

Oxford-Harvard Graduate Workshop in Early Modern Literature

Friday, February 26, 2021.

Organisers: Katie Murphy (Oxford), Leah Whittington (Harvard)

Topics of discussion included, but were not limited to: Shakespeare's Henry V (Nicholas Utzig and Chloe Fairbanks); Amelia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeroum (Kate Allan) and Epicene (Bailey Sincox).

Scholasticism in Medieval and Early Modern History

Date: 5th-6th September 2019

Place: St John’s College, University of Oxford

Abstract: What was scholasticism? For all that scholars have sought to rescue it from the perspective of its early modern detractors, for whom it was an outmoded and moribund
relic of a corrupt and barbarous past, scholasticism continues to occupy an uneasy place in intellectual history. Complex, challenging, and even forbidding, scholastic texts take careful reading. The importance of doing so is not just in what it reveals about medieval intellectual history but also about the early modern period, since recent scholarship has demonstrated the continuing influence of scholastic authors and arguments upon early modern thinkers.

This conference will bring together scholars working on scholasticism, from its origins in the medieval university through to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in order to explore the richness of medieval intellectual life as well as its survivals across the Renaissance and Reformation divides. In so doing, it aims to bridge the gap between scholars of medieval and early modern intellectual history.

Towards New Histories of Imprisonment in England, 1500-1850

Date: 15-16 July 2019

Place:  Pusey Room, Keble College, Oxford

Abstract: This conference will bring together senior academics and early career researchers to share their ongoing research into English imprisonment, discuss recent developments in the field, and set out new agendas for the history of prisons and imprisonment in England. This conference is interdisciplinary–our speakers are historians, literary scholars and criminologists–, spans a wide chronology, and takes an inclusive view of imprisonment, including not only criminal custody and incarceration, but also the imprisonment of debtors and prisoners of war. Our speakers employ a myriad of approaches in studying imprisonment, and the conference will encompass the complete range of prisons that existed in this period, beyond the penitentiary, including lock-ups, roundhouses, compters or counters, gaols, houses of correction or bridewells and prison hulks. Together, our speakers seek to explain the role that imprisonment and prisoners played in English society, economy and political life.

Further Information:

Civility and Incivility in Early Modern Britain

Date: 28 June 2019

Time: 09.15-18.00

Place: Oriel College, Oxford

Organisers: William White and Chloe Ingersent

Abstract: Recent years have seen an increased scholarly interest in early modern ideas about civility. Although often associated with urbanity, gentility, or refinement, this conference will explore ideas of civility more broadly, asking how the limits of acceptable behaviour and discourse were defined, enforced, and negotiated in early modern Britain. The meaning of civility in post-Reformation Britain was both contested and complex. Religious change, developments in print, and social and political upheaval all served at various points to intensify ideological division and public disagreement. But contemporaries also worried about the effects of heated, vitriolic debate, and about how to ensure that difference did not tear apart the vinculum societatis (“bond of society”). Notions of civility could be both a source of, and a solution to, these conflicts – a form of tolerance or a tool of exclusion. They could place people, groups, and ideas beyond the bounds of acceptability, but also provide a principle for counteracting fissure in society and ensuring peaceful co-existence.

Participants are encouraged to interrogate the different ways that historians might think about the dynamic relationship between civility and incivility between 1500 and 1700.

The Mishnah in Early Modern Europe: Jewish Law for Christians and Jews

Date: 24-25 June 2019

Place: Clarendon Institute, Oxford

Abstract: This conference is the culmination of a six-month international research project, based at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and led by Piet van Boxel and Joanna Weinberg. It also features a session at the Weston Library, where conference speakers will introduce highlights from the Bodleian's holdings of early-modern Mishnah editions.

In the seventeenth century, Christians -- and, especially, Protestants -- studied the Mishnah alongside a host of Jewish commentaries in order to reconstruct Jewish culture, history, and ritual, shedding new light on the world of both the Old and New Testaments. Their work was also inextricably dependent upon the vigorous Mishnaic studies of early-modern Jewish communities. Both traditions, in a sense, culminated in the edition and Latin translation of the Mishnah published by Guilielmus Surenhusius (Willem Surenhuis) in Amsterdam between 1698 and 1703. Surenhusius gathered up more than a century's worth of Mishnaic studies by scholars from England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, but his edition was also born out of the unique milieu of Amsterdam at the end of the seventeenth century, a place which offered possibilities for cross-cultural interactions between Jews and Christians. The conference will excavate the longterm currents within the history of Christian and Jewish scholarship, as well as the more immediate contexts, which made Surenhusius' achievement possible.

Further Information:

Histories, Theories, and Uses of Waste Paper in Early Modern England

Date: 15 June 2019

Time: 09.00am - 18.45pm

Place: Balliol College

Organisers: Megan Heffernan (DePaul University), Anna Reynolds (University of York), and Adam Smyth (University of Oxford).

Abstract: This one-day multidisciplinary conference will explore the manifold afterlives of waste paper in early modern England. Manuscript and printed sheets were frequently reused to wrap later volumes, to stiffen spines and cover the inside of bindings, to line boxes, to serve as notepaper, or (in the words of the poet Henry Fitzgeffrey) ‘to wrap Drugg’s’, ‘dry Tobacco in’, and package ‘Pippin-pyes.’ While this cycle of use has long been understood as destructive, it also speaks to a distinctly pre-modern sense of how texts might endure beyond their initial form and function. The archive of waste can help us think about the shifting fate of books across time and within distinct institutional settings, exposing a partially hidden record of the past. How should literary and textual histories incorporate these materials that were cast aside in their own moment?

Further Information:

Pilgrimage and the Senses

Date: 7 June 2019

Time: 8.30am - 19.30pm

Place: St Luke's Chapel, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, University of Oxford

Organisers: Helena Guzik and Sylvia Alvares-Correa

Abstract: With the release of its inaugural issue in 2006, The Senses and Society journal proclaimed a "sensual revolution" in the humanities and social sciences. The ensuing decade has seen a boom in sensory studies, resulting in research networks, museum exhibitions, and a wealth of publications. This interdisciplinary conference hosted at the University of Oxford aims to shed light on how sensory perception shapes and is shaped by the experience of pilgrimage across cultures, faith traditions, and throughout history.

Pilgrimages present an intriguing paradox. Grounded in physical experiences—a journey (real or imagined), encounters with sites and/or relics, and commemorative tokens—they also simultaneously demand a devotional focus on the metaphysical. A ubiquitous and long-lasting devotional practice, pilgrimage is a useful lens through which to examine how humans encounter the sacred through the tools of perception available to us. Focusing on the ways in which pilgrimage engages the senses will contribute to our knowledge of how people have historically understood both religious experience and their bodies as vehicles of devotional participation. We call on speakers to grapple with the challenges of understanding the sensory experience of spiritual phenomena, while bearing in mind that understandings of the senses can vary according to specific cultural contexts. While the five senses are a natural starting point, we are open to including papers that deal with "sense" in a more general way, such as senses of time and place.


Further Information:

Downloadable Programme:

Neptune's Children: Early Modern Waterways

Date: 24 May 2019

Time: 09.30-18.30

Place: Mure Room, Merton College, Oxford

Organisers: Professor Lorna Hutson and Professor Katherine Ibbett

Abstract: Our work as early modernists has been shaped by the great eddies of sea studies which have, over decades, challenged the way we think about the national and the global, from Braudel’s Mediterranean, via John Elliott’s Atlantic, to Steve Mentz’s shipwrecks. In gathering together Neptune’s Children, we ask what might happen when we look at the world from the perspective of rather different waters: from swamps, from lakes, from rivers; from the Indian Ocean, Mexico City, or the Firth of Forth; from bluewater, brownwater and bilgewater. We bring together scholars of early modern Europe, India, and Latin America, who are historians, literary and legal specialists; and although Neptune fathers many of our watery discussions, we’re expecting that the Aztec god Tlaloc might also talk back. How can we think better about early modern water, in a world in which water is once again a pressing political concern?


Further Information:

Beyond Truth: Fiction and (Dis)information in the Early Modern World


A two-day interdisciplinary conference, seeking to explore the boundaries between truth and falsehood in the early modern period, thinking about disinformation, fiction, and power in tandem.

17-18 September 2018

Venue: New College, Oxford
View the Call for Papers here and submit by 20 April.


Literary Form After Matter, 1500-1700


Literary Form After Matter, 1500-1700 will be held in the beautiful Shulman Auditorium of The Queen’s College, Oxford on Friday, 22 June 2018. The organisers are Dr. Katherine Hunt (Career Development Fellow in English 1550-1760, The Queen’s College, Oxford) and Dr. Dianne Mitchell (Junior Research Fellow in English, The Queen’s College, Oxford).

The focus of the conference will be how we understand form at a time when the materials of Renaissance literature seem to “matter” more than ever. Responding to a renewed interest in the forms of texts and textual objects c. 1500-1700, it will ask two related questions: What do we mean by literary form now, and has the material turn helped or hindered us in figuring out what it is?

The one-day event will consist of short, ten-minute papers and three longer keynotes. Invited speakers are Dr. Sophie Butler (University of East Anglia), Dr. Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (King’s College London), and Prof. Adam Smyth (Oxford University). There will also be many opportunities for conversation over sandwiches, coffee, and a reception.


Diplomacy and Gender in the Early Modern World (1400-1800)

A two-day symposium organised by the TORCH Network on Diplomacy in the Early Modern Period re-examining the interplay between gender and diplomacy.

To view the latest version of the conference programme:

To register:

11-12 June, 2018

Venue: Radcliffe Humanities Building, Oxford


Digital Approaches to the History of Science Workshop

This pair of one-day workshops will showcase and explore some of the work currently being done at the intersection of digital scholarship and the history of science. Visualising networks of correspondence, mapping intellectual geographies, mining textual corpora: many modes of digital scholarship have special relevance to the problems and methods of the history of science, and the last few years have seen the launch of a number of new platforms and projects in this area. With contributions from projects around the UK, these two workshops will be an opportunity to share ideas, to reflect on what is being achieved and to consider what might be done next.

Workshop I
History Faculty
Thursday, 28 September 2017, 9:30am-5pm

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Pieropaolo Dondio, Publishing the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
  • Kathryn Eccles, Cabinet Project
  • Louisiane Ferlier, Sloane’s Minute Books
  • Rob Iliffe, Newton Project
  • Lauren Kassell, Casebooks Project
  • Alison Pearn, Darwin Correspondence
  • Anna Henry (a lightning talk)

Travel bursaries are available for students and early career researchers; for more information, please consult the workshop website.

Attendance is free but registration is required.


Corpus Christi College in Context, c.1450-1650

Corpus Christi College, Oxford was founded on humanistic principles in 1517.  Its fellows included specially-appointed lecturers in Latin literature, Greek and Theology and its new trilingual library featured works in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the long sixteenth century, Corpus was a major centre of learning and religion: it played host to the Spanish humanist, Juan Luis Vives and the German astronomer and mathematician, Nicholas Kratzer; its fellows included the Catholic reformer Reginald Pole and the Protestant thinkers John Jewel and Richard Hooker; it played a prominent part in the production of the King James Bible.  In the College’s 500th anniversary year, we are holding a conference to discuss the wider context and implications of this remarkable foundation, exploring the inter-connected worlds of learning and education, prelacy and public service, charity and communal life, religion, literature and the arts, in Oxford and beyond, during a two hundred-year period of Renaissance and Reformation.

The programme includes papers from Susan Brigden, Clive Burgess, Jeremy Catto, Paul Cavill, Alexandra Gajda, Anthony Grafton, Lucy Kaufman, Nicholas Hardy, Pamela King, Julian Reid, Richard Rex, Miri Rubin, David Rundle, Christopher Stray, Joanna Weinberg, Magnus Williamson, and William Whyte.  A round table of Mordechai Feingold, Felicity Heal and Diarmaid MacCulloch, chaired by Keith Thomas, will bring proceedings to a close. 

Details are available here: Conference Programme.

Booking is now open: please click here Renaissance College Conference

If you have any questions about your booking, please feel free to contact the President’s PA,  For any queries about the content of the conference, please contact

Literary Windows - Imitative Series and Clusters in Literature (Classical to Early Modern)

All Souls College, Oxford, 25-26 September 2017

Registration is now open.

Conference fee: £30 per day (full-time students: £24 per day)

Registration closes on 15 September, or as soon as fully booked.

The programme includes papers on literature in Ancient Greek, Latin, Middle-Irish, Neo-Latin, English, French, Italian, Polish and Portuguese.

See for further details, including a downloadable programme and a link to the registration page.

Digitizing the Stage: Rethinking the Early Modern Theatre Archive

Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

CFP Due 9 April 2017

The Bodleian Libraries and the Folger Shakespeare Library will convene a conference from 10-12 July, 2017, on digital explorations of the early modern theatre archive. We are interested in applying approaches from other disciplines, genres, and time periods which can prompt new thinking about the ways we preserve, describe, research, and teach the early modern stage; as well as in hearing from early modernists who engage with their subject through digital means. Seeking to foster a spirit of collaborative experimentation, we invite proposals in the full range of project completion taking the form of 20-minute papers, as well as “lightning talks,” panel discussions, multimedia presentations, and others.

Invested in both material and method, Digitizing the Stage is a singular opportunity to consider the future of the early modern archive. Attendance will be limited to 100 participants, with registration opening in March 2017.

Submissions should relate to one or more of the following topics and themes:

* Materiality and methods

* Early modern theatre and film

* Working in audio, text, and image

* Performance and theatre history

* Challenges and experiments in the archive

* Digital archiving and cataloging

Proposals for conference papers, panel discussions, lightning talks, multimedia and interactive demonstrations should not exceed 250 words. Please include your name, contact information, academic affiliation (if relevant), and a brief biographical description including relevant interests. Submit proposals within the text of an email to

Proposals are due April 9th, 2017. Some fee waivers and travel bursaries are available; please enquire.

Digitizing the Stage is organized by the Centre for Digital Scholarship, Bodleian Libraries; the Folger Shakespeare Library; and Professor Tiffany Stern, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Alberti ludens: A conference in memory of Cecil Grayson

26 and 27 June 2017

Taylor Institution, St Giles, Oxford

Speakers: Roberto Cardini, Alberto G. Cassani, Marta Celati, Stefano Cracolici, Elisabetta Di Stefano, Francesco Furlan, James Hankins, David Marsh, Michel Paoli, Caspar Pearson, Andrea Piccardi, Mariangela Regoliosi, Arielle Saiber, Hartmut Wulfram.

Papers will be in English or Italian.

Conveners: Francesco Furlan, Martin McLaughlin, Hartmut Wulfram

Fee (covers both days, including lunch and wine reception): £50 (£36 students).

For the full conference programme and a link to the online store for registration, see

Registration closes on Sunday, 18 June 2017.

Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England

The Queen's College, Oxford, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th June

This interdisciplinary conference will interrogate the current state of criticism on the interactions between: performance spaces; the bodily, sensory and material experiences of the playhouse; and playgoers’ responses to, and engagements with, the theatre. Confirmed speakers include Natasha Korda, Tiffany Stern, Emma Smith, Laurie Maguire, Lucy Munro, Gillian Woods, Sarah Dustagheer, Jackie Watson, Will Tosh, Eoin Price, Simon Smith, and Emma Whipday.

Papers will explore playhouse behaviour; performance spaces; doubling; asides and soliloquies; approaches to theatre history; cultures of playgoing; actors' bodies; early modern fandom; and judging audiences. Join us as we reflect upon the intersections between literary scholarship, theatre history, and performance practice, in the study of playing and playgoing in early modern England.

This conference is organised by Dr Simon Smith (Birmingham) and Dr Emma Whipday (UCL), and is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Places are free, and include lunch and a drinks reception, but must be reserved in advance. Please email Emma on to reserve a place; the registration deadline is 8th June

The Book Index

A two-day conference organised by the Centre for the Study of the Book, Oxford

22-23 June 2017, Weston Library

Please see the conference website for programme and registration information. 

















Mobility and Space in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe

23-24 June 2017
Radcliffe Humanities Building - University of Oxford

Organisers: Luca Zenobi (New) and Pablo Gonzalez Martin (Wadham)

Keynote speakers: Rosa Salzberg (Warwick) and Mario Damen (Amsterdam)

The application of spatial paradigms to the study of late medieval and early modern societies is now well underway. In contrast, the so-called ‘mobility turn’ has struggled to find its way from the social sciences to the humanities and particularly to disciplines concerned with the study of the past. This conference proposes to bring the two together by exploring how everyday mobility contributed to the shaping of late medieval and early modern spaces, and how spatial frameworks affected the movement of people in pre-modern Europe.

In focusing on these issues, the conference also intends to relate to current social challenges. The world is now more mobile than ever, yet it is often argued that more spatial boundaries exist today than ever before. The conference hopes to reflect on this contemporary paradox by exploring the long-term history of the tension between the dynamism of communities, groups and individuals, and the human construction of places and boundaries.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit proposals of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers. Papers may engage with questions of mobility and space at a variety of levels (regional, urban, domestic) and interdisciplinary approaches are particularly encouraged.

Potential sub-topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Performing space through movement (urban processions, revolts on the move, border patrols & frontier trespassing)
  • Mobile practices in public spaces (itinerant courts & diplomatic exchanges, periodic markets & temporary fairs, travelling performances)
  • Narrating movement, imagining space (pilgrimage guides, merchant itineraries travel diaries, maps & portraits)
  • Digital scholarship in exploring the intersections between mobility and space (network analysis, flow modelling, GIS-based research)

We plan to edit a volume which will include selected papers from the conference.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we may also be able to provide some travel bursaries to PhDs and ECRs not in receipt of institutional support.

Please send your proposal and a brief bio by 1 February 2017 to & and tweet us using the hashtag #mobilityandspace.

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

  • Kathryn Eccles and 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 – 1:30 Text, Leaf, Book, 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’
  • Didi van Trijp (Leiden), ‘Pressing Fish Between Leaves: Collecting the World Underwater in Eighteenth Century Europe’

1:30 – 2:15 Lunch

2:15 – 3:45 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’

3:45 – 4:00 Break

4:00 – 5:30 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’
  • Maria Franchini (Reading), ‘Collecting for Oneself and Collecting for Others: Constructing and Reconstructing Two 1730s English Parochial Libraries’

5:45 – 6:45 Wine reception

7:00 Dinner at Al Shami

Ole Worm's Museum

Oxford Early Modern South Asia Workshop

Professions in Motion: Culture, Power and the Politics of Mobility in Eighteenth Century India

Danson Room, Trinity College, Oxford

1-2 June 2017

Workshop website.

hursday 1 June

9.15 am Coffee

9.45 Opening Remarks

10.00 Artists and astronomers on the move

Katherine Butler Schofield (King’s College, London) ‘Genealogy, Geography and Gharānā: Indian musicians’ networks in the late eighteenth century’.

Christopher Minkowski (Oxford) ‘An Open, International Search: Bringing Euclid, Al-Ṭūṣī and Copernicus to Jaisingh’s Observatory’’.

11.30 Break

11.45 Military and administrative competencies in central India

Hannah Archambault (University of California, Berkeley) ‘The business of war: raising and maintaining armies in the early eighteenth Deccan’.

Nandini Chatterjee (University of Exeter) ‘Kayasthas in Rajput land: family lore in a dynasty of qanungozamindars in early modern Malwa’.

1.15 Lunch in the Danson Room, Trinity College. All welcome.

2.30 Flight of the poets

Arthur Dudney (Cambridge) ‘‘Chasing in the desert of greed’: when Delhi’s intellectuals left for Lucknow’

Francesca Orsini (SOAS) ‘Between Courts and Cities: Literati, new courts and changing dynamics of multilingualism in eighteenth century Awadh’.

Richard David Williams (Oxford) ‘Dreams, songs and letters: How sectarian poets documented the tensions between their gurus, gods and kings’.

7.00 Dinner for paper givers

Friday 2 June

8.45 am Coffee

9.00 The Deccan and Its Political Imaginaries

Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington, Seattle) ‘Networks and Fault Lines in Eighteenth century Deccani Literary Communities’.

Roy S. Fischel (SOAS) ‘Post-imperial Present, pre-imperial Pasts: Elites, Locality and the state in the Deccan, c. 1660-1720’.

Naveena Naqvi (University of California, Los Angeles) ‘Documenting Loss and Vitality in inter-imperial North India, c.1780- 1830’.

11.15 Break

11.30 Émigré Horizons in South India

Anand Venkatkrishnan (Oxford) ‘Khana Khazana: Brahmins, Scholars and Cooks in the Long Eighteenth Century’

Devesh Soneji (University of Pennsylvania) ‘Mēḷakkārar Mobility, Literature-as-Performance and Tañjāvūrī Cosmopolitanism in Eighteenth Century South India’

13.00 Lunch in the Danson Room, Trinity College. All welcome.

2.00 Maratha Brahmans and their networks

Dominic Vendell (Columbia) ‘Politics at a Distance: Diplomacy and Merchant Networks at Eighteenth Century Maratha Courts’.

Polly O’Hanlon (Oxford) ‘Pious envoys: Maratha Women’s Pilgrimages in Eighteenth Century India’.

Bihani Sarkar (Oxford) ‘Travelling Tantrics and Belligerent Brahmins: the Śivarājyābhiṣekakalpataru and Śivaji’s Tantric Consecration’

4.15 Break, Round Table and Close

EAJS Conference: Jewish Books and their Christian Collectors in Europe, the New World and Czarist Russia

Christ Church
Blue Boar Lecture Theatre
22-23 May 2017

All are welcome to attend but registration is required by e-mailing 

Monday, 22 May
9.30 Welcome: Martyn Percy
9.35 Introduction: Jan Joosten
Saverio Campanini: New Evidence on the Formation of Francesco Zorzi’s Library in Renaissance Venice
Ilona Steimann: Forming a Hebraist “Canon” of Jewish Literature: German Hebraica Collections around 1500
Piet van Boxel: A Sixteenth-Century Censor and his Collection of Hebrew Books
Joanna Weinberg: The Library of Johann Buxtorf the Elder
Kasper van Ommen: ‘Je suis pauvre en tout, mesmement en livres’. Joseph Scaliger as a Book Collector of Hebraica
Benjamin Williams: Connections at Christ Church: Edward Pococke and his Copies of Maimonides’ Commentary on the Mishnah
Rahel Fronda: Jewish Books and their Christian Collectors: Christ Church Connections (Exhibition)
18.30 Reception: César Merchán-Hamann
19.30 DINNER

Tuesday, 23 May
Theodor Dunkelgrün and Scott Mandelbrote: Some Hebrew Collections and Collectors in the Colleges of Cambridge
Shimon Iakerson: Who Collected Hebrew Books in Czarist Russia and Why
Arthur Kiron: An Atlantic Hebrew Republic of Letters
Joshua Teplitsky: Encounters Beyond the Text: Christian Readers and Jewish Libraries

Mimesis on Trial

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

T.S. Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College, Oxford

Saturday, 20 May 2017

What is the connection between verisimilitude as a literary device and its legal use in the credible narration of facts? How do we construe the relation between the marvellous and the probable? What do early modern notions of likelihood and verisimilitude look like, if accounts of real-life criminal trials cite miracles and divine interventions as discoverers of the truth? Early modern Europe saw new modes and criteria of evidence-evaluation emerge, as new criminal codes and judicial systems were established. How has the work of social historians, directing us to ‘fiction in the archives’ affected how literary critics see the shaping of probability – of discoveries, denouements, trial outcomes – in early modern prose fiction and drama? How does recent scholarly work on the importance of oaths and binding language, on witness credibility, on inquisitions, jury trials, on the rhetorical criteria of suspicion and on the circulation of news affect current thinking about literary and dramatic narrative? Can we revisit, in this context, Auerbach’s conception of Western literature’s achievement as supremely mimetic, as representing ‘the entire human individual’?

Registration is now openBooking for dinner closes 10 May 2017. Download the conference programme.

Conference Programme:

8.30-9.00 Registration and coffee.

9.00-9.15 Welcome and introduction: Natasha Simonova and Lorna Hutson

9.15-10.15 Keynote: Justin Steinberg (University of Chicago)

  • ‘Mimesis on Trial: Legal and Literary Verisimilitude in Boccaccio’s Decameron

10.15-10.30 Break – coffee and tea

10.30-11.45 Panel 1: Credibility, Oaths and Evidence 

  • Edwina Christie (Oxford), ‘Credible Calumny in Mid-Century Prose Romance’
  • Jennifer Hough (Liverpool Hope), ‘An examination of modes of proof and evidence in All is True
  • Richard Stacey (Glasgow), ‘“You are not oathable”: Mimetic Vowing and Female Operativity in Middleton’s More Dissemblers Besides Women'

11.45-12.00 Break – coffee and tea

12.00-1.15 Panel 2: The Legal Imagination

  • Andrew Zurcher (Cambridge), ‘Bad Luck Spenser: Deodand, Mimesis and Materiality in The Faerie Queene
  • Simon Stern (Toronto), ‘Legal Fictions, Probability and Artifice in Early Modern England’
  • Rachel Holmes (Cambridge), ‘“To pluck a truth out of partiality”: Romeo and Juliet, Law and Mimetic Adaptation’

1.15-2.15 Lunch

2.15-3.30 Panel 3: Realism Effects

  • Sophie Duncan (Oxford), ‘“Lords gather round baby”: “fake” babies and real affect in Early Modern Drama’
  • Laura Wright (Oxford), ‘Aural Evidence: doubtful sounds in Webster’s tragedies’
  • Jackie Watson (Independent Scholar), ‘Shaking pens and ravishing justice: the mimetic effects of epistolary evidence’                       

3.30-3.45 Break – coffee and tea

3.45-4.45 Panel 4: Figurations of Reality

  • Zoë Sutherland (St Andrews), ‘The figuring of reality as self-given law in Ben Jonson’s readings of Boccaccio and Quintilian in The Devil is an Ass
  • Rebecca Beattie (Oxford), ‘The Works of Baltasar Gracián: Reality on Trial, but Who Makes Up the Jury?'

4.45-5.00 Break – coffee and tea

5.00-5.30 Panel 5: Being There

  • Ros Ballaster (Oxford), ‘Being There: The Debate over Mimesis and Presence in the Eighteenth Century Theatre and Novel’

5.30-6.00 Closing remarks

6.00 Wine reception on lawn (weather permitting)

Display of rare books, legal and literary (Merton College Library)

7.30  Dinner (Saville Room, Merton College)

Decameron illustration


Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe

Ertegun House, University of Oxford, 10–11 March 2017

Conference website:

This conference seeks to explore the relationship between space, identity, and religious belief in early modern Europe, through the correlative, yet distinct experiences of imprisonment and exile. The organisers welcome all paper proposals that explore the phenomena of imprisonment and exile in the early modern period, especially those that relate these modalities of control to the complex and evolving religious thought of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. At a time when incarceration or exile was a distinct possibility, even likelihood, for many of Europe’s innovative thinkers, how did the experience of imprisonment or banishment influence the texts—theological, political, and literary—produced in the early modern period? How did early modern individuals inhabit, conceptualise, and represent “unfree” space? How does the spatial turn help us to investigate the impact of the confines of prison or the exile’s physical separation from their community on the production and development of religious thought? Does imprisonment or exile exaggerate polemical language and heighten sectarian differences, or induce censorship and temper dissenting voices?

We invite 20-minute papers, from literary, historical, theological, and interdisciplinary perspectives, on these themes. We are especially interested in papers connecting imprisonment and exile, and in those linking physical spaces with the world of ideas and texts. The organisers, Spencer Weinreich, Chiara Giovanni, and Anik Laferrière, look forward to receiving proposals, particularly from postgraduate students and early career researchers, and are glad to answer any queries. Proposals should include a title and abstract of a maximum of 250 words, and should be sent to by 9 January 2017.



The Idea of a Life, 1500-1700

Friday 17 June 2016
Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford University
MBI Al Jaber Auditorium, Corpus Christi College

What was a life in early modern England and Europe? What patterns and templates were used to sort, sift, organise and represent experience? How were models for a life produced and reworked? How was a life evaluated, in terms of various sorts of good — moral, spiritual, civic, familial, economic? What were the moments, and what were the processes, by which a representation of a life was circulated? Are Burckhardtian models of the birth of Renaissance individuality and depth still useful to describe early modern culture, or do we need new paradigms? If much recent early modern work has been organised around ideas of networks, coteries and communities, how has the idea of a life been revised? If autobiography is often seen as a nineteenth-century form, what kind of pre-history does it experience in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? How has the turn to the archive reformed our sense of early modern lives? For scholars today, what is the status of biography as a way of organising analysis of the period?



9.30-11 Chair: Adam Smyth

Lucy Munro (King’s College London), ‘Rewriting Lives: Beaumont and Fletcher in the Archive’
Lotte Fikkers (Queen Mary University of London), ‘Finding lives in legal records’
Will Tosh (Shakespeare’s Globe), ‘A hidden romance in Elizabethan public life’

11-11.20 coffee

11.20-12.50 Chair: Rhodri Lewis

Steven Zwicker (Washington University, St Louis), ‘Imagining a Life: Dryden Dwells Among the Ancients’
Kate Bennett (Oxford), ‘Brief lives and eccentricity: Shaftesbury's life of Henry Hastings’
Niall Allsopp (Oxford), ‘Rituals of Transition: Porches and Thresholds in Early-Modern England (A Case Study in Robert Herrick)’

12.50-1.30 lunch

1.30-2.30 Chair: Valentina Caldari

Lori Humphrey Newcomb (University of Illinois), ‘“Hor Nam is Frances”: A Book Collector Writing Her Life’
Felicity Heal (Oxford), ‘Reconciling godliness, learning and peculation: the diaries of Richard Stonley, Teller in the Elizabethan Exchequer’

2.30-2.45 Coffee

2.45-3.45 Chair: Rhodri Lewis

Merridee L. Bailey, (The University of Adelaide), ‘The Meek Life’
Olivia Smith (Oxford), ‘Controlling experience? Early modern science writing’

4-5 Chair: Lyndal Roper

Victoria Van Hyning (Oxford), ‘Early modern English convent autobiography’
Laura Casella (Udine), ‘“Things worth noting down and remembering” for a woman of the sixteenth century: individual and family life in the diary of Venere Bosina’

5-6 wine reception

6.30 Dinner for speakers (Quod).



Moral Authority and its Critics, 1500-1700

Seventh Annual Conference, Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS), Oxford
MBI Al Jaber Auditorium, Corpus Christi College
Saturday 23 May 2015

For the duration of the sixteenth century in Europe, the governance of human affairs was the province of “moral philosophy” (sometimes called “practical philosophy”). Humanist teachers and students assembled this body of doctrine around Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Cicero’s De officiis (“On Duties”), and divided it into the three interlocking parts of ethics (concerned with the governance of the individual), oeconomics (concerned with the governance of the family or household), and politics (concerned with the governance of the state). This model was pervasive, united tradition and practical common sense, and married religious and civic ideals of virtue. And yet, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, to learn about the theory of governance meant turning not to “moral philosophy” in the round, but to works of ethics or politics written by the likes of Descartes, Hobbes, Malebranche, Spinoza, Locke, or Shaftesbury. Although steeped in the culture of humanism, such writers appealed not to the authority of an Aristotle or a Cicero as the starting point for their enquiries, but to human affairs as they saw them.

The purpose of this conference is to track and to interrogate the nature, longevity, and eventual demise of humanist moral philosophy. How do the changing contours of moral philosophy reflect the encounters of the confidently worldly humanism of the earlier sixteenth century with various kinds of novelty or innovation? For instance, with the anthropological and cultural discoveries of the “new world”; with the changing place and status of women and of women writers; with demographic change and social unrest; with the legitimation of rebellion against established monarchs; with the perceived threat of Machiavellianism and reason of state; with the exclusivist claims of religion to define the limits of moral existence; with renewed attention to some of the knottier moments in ancient history; with Stoic, Platonic, and Epicurean visions of morality; with a fresh determination to explore the “self” as something integral and not as a socially sanctioned part to play within the drama of life. What other prompts to change should be addressed? Did, for instance, the new philosophy make it harder to claim “natural” authority for received notions of morality? What about the relationship, never straightforward, between moral philosophy and the law? What happens to oeconomics? And why is that we now so readily associate moral philosophy with ethics alone? 

Papers will evince all disciplinary approaches, working comparatively and across specific national/regional/linguistic traditions. Topics of enquiry will include the printing, circulation, and teaching of Ciceronian and Aristotelian texts; the humanist character of even the boldest attempts to shrug off moral philosophical tradition; the relationship between moral philosophy and other parts of the humanist intellectual-philosophical synthesis; the engagement with or criticism of moral philosophy in drama, poetry, or prose; the relationship between literary or historical and more theoretical approaches to moral philosophy; the relationship between conduct manuals and changing concepts of moral philosophy; the relationship between social, cultural, and political contingency and the so-called “general crisis” of the seventeenth century; the relationship between “high” and “low” cultural concepts of moral integrity.


Anna Becker, Daniel Carey, Karen Collis, Felicity Green, Paulina Kewes, Rhodri Lewis, Ian Maclean, Sarah Mortimer, Jon Parkin, Jonathan Patterson, David Harris Sacks.



Scholarship, Science, and Religion in the Age of Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) and Henry Savile (1549-1622)

University of Oxford's Centre for Early Modern Studies 6th Annual Conference

T.S. Eliot Theatre, Merton College
Tuesday 1st - Thursday 3rd July 2014

Plenary speaker: Anthony Grafton (Princeton)

Participants: Rhiannon Ash (Oxford), Philip Beeley (Oxford), Paul Botley (Warwick), Matteo Campagnolo (Geneva), Andrea Ceccarelli (Padua), Ingrid de Smet (Warwick), Mordechai Feingold (Caltech), Robert Goulding (Notre Dame), Nick Hardy(Cambridge), Scott Mandelbrote (Cambridge), Jean-Louis Quantin (Paris), Paul Quarrie (Maggs Bros.), André-Louis Rey(Geneva), Thomas Roebuck (UEA), Richard Serjeantson(Cambridge), Robin Sowerby (Stirling), Gilbert Tournoy (Leuven), Benjamin Wardhaugh (Oxford), Jan Waszink (Utrecht), Joanna Weinberg (Oxford), David Womersley (Oxford).

The conference is co-organized by the University of Oxford (David Norbrook), the University of East Anglia (Tom Roebuck), and the California Institute of Technology (Mordechai Feingold).

Henry Savile (1549-1622) and Isaac Casaubon (1559-1614) were two contrasting giants of late humanism. Savile, Warden of Merton College, Oxford, was a key figure in the history of English science and a formidable presence on the English scholarly and political scene, whose translation of Tacitus led to political controversy and whose editio princeps of Chrysostom in Greek won admiration across Europe. Casaubon, perhaps the leading Greek classical scholar of his generation and a great correspondent within the intellectual exchanges of the Republic of Letters, used his scholarship to become a formidable Protestant polemicist, publishing a vast philological critique of the authorized Catholic ecclesiastical history of Cesare Baronio.

Their lives and works raise questions at the heart of contemporary interdisciplinary early modern studies: what was the relationship between philological scholarship and religious polemic? How did philology shape early modern science? How did scholars from across the Republic of Letters communicate with one another? And how did those communications shape their works? What and how did they read? What records of their reading are preserved today in annotated books and manuscript notebooks? How did scholars and political elites interact with one another? What was the impact of scholarship upon literary style and genre? Why and how did scholars encounter Hebraic learning?

2014 is the 400th anniversary of Casaubon's death and the 750th anniversary of the foundation of Merton College, the institution which Savile shaped. Our conference brings together, for the first time, a group of leading scholars from around the world and across disciplines to celebrate this occasion by exploring their lives and works, and, in turn, showing how these figures help us to answer vital questions about the world of late humanist erudition and science. There will also be a small exhibition at the Bodleian Library to accompany the conference.