Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Early Modern Circle


Charlotte-Rose Millar -
Andrea Rizzi -
Julie Robarts -

The Early Modern Circle is an informal, interdisciplinary seminar group open to interested students, academics and researchers. Drinks are provided and a gold coin donation helps to make this possible.

The group meets at 6:15 on the third Monday of the month, unless noted otherwise below.

To be added to the mailing list, please email Andrew Stephenson - andrewws@

Archive of past papers.

Programme for 2014

17 March

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Laura Kounine (Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin)

Emotions on Trial: Reading for Emotions in 17th-century German Witch-trials

Witchcraft, at its most fundamental, involves wishing harm to others. It thus centrally concerns the impact of emotional states on physical ones. In a court of law, given that physical evidence of witchcraft was highly ambiguous, interrogators, accusers and witnesses had to search for other signs to demonstrate the guilt of the accused. What was their comportment on trial like and what did their physical features and reactions reveal about their emotional states? How was someone’s physical and mental states utilised in the courtroom as ‘proof’ of their supposed transgressions? And how, during the peak and in the heartland of the witch-craze, was someone able to resist this charge? This paper seeks to explore what a history of emotions of early modern European witch-trials could look like. Through an examination of case studies of witch-trial narratives in the Lutheran duchy of Württemberg in southwestern Germany, this paper will examine how and what kind of emotions were articulated, and how they were valued and judged, in the process of being on trial.

Laura Kounine is currently visiting Melbourne and Australia as an Early Career International Research Fellow at Center of Excellence for the History of Emotions.


14 April

Old Arts Room 205 - E Seminar Room

Dr Massimo Rospocher (Leeds)

Playing to the Crowd: Street Singers, War Reporting and the Manipulation of Emotions in Early Modern Italy

Street singers (cantastorie) were familiar figures on the piazzas of early modern Italian cities, among the most important providers of information and entertainment to urban publics. Experts in drawing in an audience and leaving them begging for more, they exploited the powers of voice and gesture, and of evocative music. From the late fifteenth century they found a new source of earning in their relations with the nascent printing industry, beginning to publish and sell cheap pamphlets of their compositions. On the faultlines between orality and print, between performance and text, singers of tales are key to understanding the fears, anxieties, interests and desires of ordinary people in early modern Italy.

This paper explores how these figures played on the emotions of their audiences to engage them with current events and ultimately to sell their pamphlets. I will analyse the emotive techniques of the cantastorie and consider how their performances were experienced from the point of view of the crowd.

Dr Massimo Rospocher is International Research Visiting Fellow at the Melbourne node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotion.


19 May

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Patricia Pender (University of Newcastle)

Early Modern Englishwomen and the Institutions of Authorship: Publication, Collaboration, Translation

This talk will investigate the often-unacknowledged roles that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Englishwomen played in the literary culture of the period by considering the "extra-authorial" activities they undertook as patrons, editors, publishers, collaborators and translators. It will outline the parameters of the new research project Dr Pender is pursuing as the 2013 recipient of the University of Melbourne's S. Ernst Sprott Fellowship. The project aims to expand our understanding of early modern literary authorship by considering agents and forms of literary labour that have previously been deemed marginal to the discipline as a whole.  It endeavours to challenge and refine categories of authorship that have been defined in predominantly masculine terms and provide in that process a more complete and historically nuanced account of the emergence of the category of the "author" in early modern England.


16 June

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Andrea Rizzi

Renaissance Emotions in Translation

18 August

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

15 September

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Postgraduate Workshop


20 October

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Hugh Hudson

A New Document for Ghiberti at Santa Maria Novella in Florence: The Confraternity of St Peter Martyr between Convent and Commune

17 November

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Professor Veronique Duché


Previous Papers for the Early Modern Circle









top of page