Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Early Modern Circle

Convenors:

Charlotte-Rose Millar - charlotte.millar@unimelb.edu.au
Andrea Rizzi - arizzi@unimelb.edu.au
Julie Robarts - j.robarts@student.unimelb.edu.au

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@ unimelb.edu.au.

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.

Patricia Pender is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Newcastle.  She is the author of Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty published by Palgrave in 2012 and “I’m Buffy and You’re History”: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Contemporary Feminisms” forthcoming with I. B. Tauris in 2014.  She has co-edited a special issue of Parergon on Early Modern Women and the Apparatus of Authorship (2012) and has previously published essays on Anne Askew, Mary Sidney and Anne Bradstreet in journals such as Women’s Writing, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and Huntington Library Quarterly. With her colleague Rosalind Smith she coordinates the Early Modern Women’s Research Network (EMWRN) from the University of Newcastle, a three-year Australian Research Council project on the Material Cultures of Early Modern Women’s Writing and has edited an eponymous collection currently in press with Palgrave.  In addition to being the S. Ernest Sprott Fellow from the University of Melbourne, Trisha is also the Resse Fellow in American Bibliography and the History of the Book at the American Antiquarian Society (2013-2014) and was recently awarded an individual ARC DP grant for her new research project, “Early Modern Women and the Institutions of Authorship”.

 

4 June

Old Arts - Graduate Seminar Room 1

Dr Lizanne Henderson, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow

Fairies, Angels and the Land of the Dead: Robert Kirk’s Lychnobious People

The relationship between fairies and the dead is long-standing and complex. While at times the resemblances between them can be so close as to be almost indistinguishable, it will not be the intention of this paper to suggest they are one and the same but simply to be aware of, and take into consideration, the interconnectedness of fairy lore with traditions surrounding death and the dead.

Rev Robert Kirk (1644-1692), author of The Secret Common-Wealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (1691), produced an invaluable corpus of information, and a rare insight into various aspects of seventeenth-century Scottish folk belief, drawn from a range of oral informants, eye-witness accounts, local history and personal experience, supported by biblical and classical sources. It was Kirk’s intention to record ‘evidence’ of fairy belief (and related phenomena such as second sight) in part to uphold and strengthen belief in the existence of angels, the Devil, and the Holy Spirit. His underlying argument was that to disbelieve in fairies is to doubt the very existence of God. Kirk did not perceive a dichotomous relationship between christian doctrine and folk belief, a polarization that had been so rigorously asserted by the reformed church. He maintained that fairy belief was not inconsistent with christianity.

This paper will examine Robert Kirk’s ideas about the soul, supernatural communication, second sight, angels, and the relationship between fairies and the dead.

Dr Lizanne Henderson’s main research interests are the European and African witch-hunts, critical animal studies, slavery and abolition, and the Scottish diaspora in North America, Australasia, Africa and the Caribbean. She is currently working on a project about cultural interactions with and interpretations of Polar Bears and on 18th and 19th century polar explorers and their observations of animals. Her books include (with Edward J. Cowan) Scottish Fairy Belief: A History (2001; (ed.) Fantastical Imaginations: The Supernatural in Scottish History and Culture; (ed.) A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland 1000 to 1600 (2011). She is currently writing Witchcraft and Folk Belief in Enlightenment Scotland (forthcoming Palgrave 2015).

 

16 June

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Michael Ostling, University of Queensland

Where’re All the Good People Gone? Modes and Motivations of Fairy Vanishing

In seventeenth-century England and Scotland writers as various as Hobbes and Cleland, Milton and Burton reflected on the recent fading of fairy belief. Although they differed one from another in their evaluation of the fairy vanishing, most found its cause in the success of Reformation: where before “Both Elrich elfs and brownies stayed,” they had fled “When old John Knox, and other some / Began to plott the Haggs of Rome.” What Barbara Rieti calls “the perpetual recession of the fairies,” their tendency to have just vanished from the countryside, is best understood as a mode of metacultural reflection, a way of constructing cultural discontinuity. Accordingly, the seventeenth-century celebration of fairy vanishing is less a description (fairies hung around into the twentieth-century or later) than an attributive strategy: declarations that (and why, and how, and wither) the fairies had vanished position writer and reader as educated, rational, and reformed.

Dr Michael Ostling is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for the History of European Discourse at the University of Queensland.

 

18 August

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Professor Allen Grieco, Villa I Tatti, Harvard

 

15 September

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Diana Hiller, University of Melbourne

 

20 October

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Hugh Hudson, University of Melbourne

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, University of Melbourne

 

Previous Papers for the Early Modern Circle

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

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