Previous Events

  • Themes, imagery and ideas from Seneca’s moral philosophy infuse the writing of Petrarch and Boccaccio, helping to shape not only their moral views, but also their attitude towards the literature of the past and sense of their own role. Syrithe Pugh will trace Senecan ideas about literature as transcending geographical and temporal boundaries in the two trecento writers, and see how tensions between such transcendence and more mundane concerns and political realities play out in each. The journey will reveal telling differences between the two Italians, and destabilize some dichotomies— master/disciple, Classical/Christian, Mediaeval/Renaissance—which tend to inform scholarly treatments of them and of the period.

    Syrithe Pugh is a Reader in English at the University of Aberdeen, specializing in classical reception in Renaissance literature. She has published three monographs, Spenser and Ovid (2005), Herrick, Fanshawe and the Politics of Intertextuality (2010), and Spenser and Virgil: The Pastoral Poems (2016), which was awarded the Isabel MacCaffrey Award in 2017. Other publications include two forthcoming edited volumes: Conversations: Classical and Renaissance Intertextuality (Manchester University Press) and Euhemerism and its Uses: The Mortal Gods (Routledge).

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

  • It has been argued that heroic poetry on martial themes disappeared in the seventeenth century because it could not accommodate technological changes in warfare. This lecture explores the history of European epic in both in Latin and in vernacular languages, in order to show that focus on one at the expense of the other can lead to perilous historical and literary-historical distortions.

    Keith Sidwell, Emeritus Professor, University College Cork and Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary, Canada, has also taught at in Cambridge and Lancaster in the UK, and in the Republic of Ireland at NUI Maynooth and University College, Cork where he was the Professor of Latin and Greek and Head of Department. His research interests range from Greek tragedy and comedy to the influence of Lucian on Renaissance Latin literature, and Irish early modern Latin. He has published widely and his books include: Lucian: Chattering Courtesans and Other Sardonic Sketches, Penguin 2004; Aristophanes the Democrat, Cambridge University Press 2009; Making Ireland Roman: Irish Latin Writers and the Republic of Letters, Cork 2009 (with Jason Harris); The Tipperary Hero: Dermot O’Meara’s Ormonius (1615), Brepols, Belgium 2011 (with David Edwards); and (with P. Lenihan) Poema de Hibernia: A Jacobite Epic on the Williamite War (1689-91), Dublin: Irish MSS Commission, 2018.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

    Academic Calendar, University Dates & Events, Humanities
  • The Digital Piranesi aims to provide an enhanced digital edition of the works of Italian illustrator Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), an innovative graphic artist most known for his architectural studies of Rome and imaginary prisons. By digitally illuminating and enacting many of the graphic features of his designs, this project will provide new ways of seeing this rare and complex historical material. Alternatively historical and imaginative, Piranesi’s representations of ruins are exercises in rigorous archeological investigation just as much as they are fanciful experiments in urban imagination. Pushing against the limits not only of the printed page but also of the bound book, his multi-plate engravings become elaborate foldouts in bound volumes, and the references in his maps and indices direct users between different publications. This seminar will offer a hands-on exploration of volumes from the set of Piranesi’s Opere held at the John Hay Library and demonstrate the elaborate interaction with print that Piranesi asks of his beholders through his maps, views, keys, and indices. Key concerns will include word-image relationships, digital humanities, cartography, the history of printmaking, and art historical historiography.

    This hands-on workshop for graduate students will be held by
    Dr. Jeanne Britton, Curator
    Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
    University of South Carolina
    Dr. Zoe Langer, NEH Postdoctoral Fellow
    Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
    University of South Carolina

  • Mar
    5:30pm - 7:00pm

    40th William Church Lecture • Nick Wilding

    Smith-Buonanno Hall

    Nick Wilding (Georgia State University) will give a talk on “False Impressions: A History of Print Forgery.” Prof. Nick Wilding is a historian of early modern Italy, of the book, and of science. A recipient of many awards and fellowships, and author of many works, most notably Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge (2014), he also became visible internationally when in 2012 he exposed a grand fraud. Wilding proved that a proffered copy of Galileo’s famous treatise on the use of a telescope to observe the stars, Sidereus Nuncius (1610), purportedly including Galileo’s own watercolors of the moon, was a clever forgery. It helped to bring the director of the Girolamini Library in Naples, Marino Massimo De Caro – part of the Berlusconi network – to justice. (De Caro was also found to have embezzled many hundreds of books from the library he oversaw.) Wilding also featured prominently in the PBS documentary about how the fraud was exposed, “Galileo’s Moon” (which premiered on July 2, 2019). 

    Academic Calendar, University Dates & Events
  • Hoy en día se sabe muy poco de la rica historia intelectual y cultural de Charcas colonial, que formó parte del Virreinato del Perú y cuyo territorio corresponde aproximadamente a la moderna Bolivia. Desde hace mucho tiempo, Andrés Eichmann está desenterrando e interpretando la literatura en español (además de algunas obras en latín) de la región, producida en los siglos XVI y XVII. En esta charla proporcionará una visión general informada de sus hallazgos y explicará el estado actual de la investigación de este campo.

    Very little is known of the rich intellectual and cultural history of colonial Charcas, a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru now roughly constituting the area of modern Bolivia. For several years Andrés Eichmann has been unearthing and interpreting Spanish literature and some works in Latin from the region, which were produced in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this talk he will provide a uniquely informed overview of his findings and explain the current state of investigation in this field.

    This lecture will be given in Spanish.

    Andrés Eichmann Oerhli, Professor (Catedrático) of Latin American Literature in UMSA in La Paz, Bolivia, has had visiting lectureships at the universities of Versailles in France and Navarra in Spain and is founding editor of the journal Classics Boliviana. His book publications includeDe Boliviana latinitate: Pensamiento y latín en Bolivia(2002); Letras humanas y divinas en la muy noble ciudad de La Plata (2005), Cancionero mariano de Charcas (2009), and a volume co-authored with Ignacio Arellano, Entremeses, loas y coloquios de Potosí (2005).

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

  • Professor Anne Dunlop is the Herald Chair of Fine Arts in the Department of Art History, Curatorship, Arts & Culture at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Andrea del Castagno and the Limits of Painting (2015), Painted Palaces: The Rise of Secular Art in Early Renaissance Italy (2009) and several edited volumes, among them Antipodean Early Modern: European Art in Australian Collections, c. 1200-1600, (2018), and with Christy Anderson and Pamela H. Smith, co-editor of The Matter of Art: Materials, Technologies, Cultural Logics, 1250-1650 (2014). Her current research focuses on artistic contact and trade in materials between Italy and Mongol Eurasia. Her lecture is part of the year-long series called On Speculation.

    The series is co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture’s Margerie Cutler, Joseph Edinburgh, and Kenneth List funds. Additional support comes from the C.V. Starr Foundation Lectureship Fund.

    HIAA Annual Lecture Series, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • David Scott, the Ruth and William Lubic Professor of Anthropology in the Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University, will give a research lecture that asks what story of the history of New World slavery ought to command our critical attention in the present. He offers the provisional answer that the story of New World slavery ought to be reoriented by a moral, and more specifically a reparatory, history that embraces the idea that New World slavery was not only an historical catastrophe but a moral evil, a wrong which may in fact be irreparable. Free and open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

  • What did Dante know about classical pederasty? Was he concerned that the great masters he emulated—father figures—were often also unabashed lovers of young men? Most urgently, did he think of Virgil in this context? This talk will first set out some broad historical and theoretical considerations around intergenerational male-male desire from antiquity through the Renaissance with help from Freud and post-Freudian queer theory. The subsequent focus will then be on the remarkable celebration of Virgil’s warrior-lovers Nisus and Euryalus in the first canto of Dante’s Inferno.

    Gary Cestaro is Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and the LGBTQ Studies Program at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author of Dante and the Grammar of the Nursing Body (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003) and editor of the collection Queer Italia: Same-Sex Desire in Italian Literature and Film (Palgrave Macmillan/St. Martin’s, 2004). He is currently working on a book entitled Dante’s Queer Genealogies.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

  • Dec
    10:00am - 4:00pm

    Workshop • “Viewing Topography Across the Globe”

    John Carter Brown Library

    Topography, from topos, is the practice of describing place through language, the features of the land, the inhabitants, and the accumulation of history. Specific to locality and the perspective of the person delineating, describing, or collecting materials, topography counters the worldliness of geography while also offering a potential tool to multiply singular approaches. Over a day-long workshop, approaches to place from Indigenous and European perspectives and interrogate the frame of ‘topography’ in global contexts were examined. Working with special collections, the day included three talks and object viewing sessions that focused  on the Americas, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe, and included descriptions of military campaigns, fortifications, settlements, urban cartographies, city views, forests and hunts, palaces, religious structures, markets, peoples, coastal views, weather, maps, and more.

    The workshop was organized by Holly Shaffer (History of Art & Architecture, Brown University), Cynthia Roman (The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University), Neil Safier (The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University), and Shahzad Bashir (Religious Studies, Brown University).

    Session 1: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (John Carter Brown Library)

    John Lopez (Assistant Professor of Art History, University of California-Davis), “Renaissance Cartography and the Mapping of the Environmental Crisis at Viceregal Mexico City”
    When the Spanish founded Mexico City in 1524, they inherited from the Aztec an island site that flooded. After following in the footsteps of their pre-Columbian predecessor, by rebuilding the hydraulic web of causeways, dikes, and floodgates, Spanish colonial authorities sought an alternative solution to the city’s propensity to inundate. In 1607, the cartographer-turned-hydraulic engineer Enrico Martínez implemented the desagüe, an engineering project to drain the lakes that surrounded the city into the Gulf of Mexico. As part of his response to environmental crisis, Martínez produced Descripción de la comarca de México i obra del desagüe de la laguna. Martínez’s map represents a defining moment in Mexico City’s history because it is the first drawing made by a professional mapmaker in the service of flood control. Made under the guise of environmental concern and technological prowess, Descripción de la comarca de México aids understanding how flooding was a problem posed by New World nature to Renaissance cartographic analysis, where science and mathematical abstraction were mobilized to end Mexico City’s centuries-old problem of chronic flooding.

    Samira Sheikh (Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies, Vanderbilt University), “The Languages of Gujarati Maps”
    Terrestrial maps produced in Gujarat in the 18th century drew from and “translated” cartographic vocabularies available in this highly connected and trade-rich province of the Mughal empire. With the extension of the East India Company’s influence over Gujarat, local mapmakers veered towards conventions that often looked European on the surface. In response, Samira Sheikh argued that Gujarati cartography, informed by religious, maritime, scientific, and painterly conventions, was in fact the site of multiple, cross-cutting translation projects.

    Ünver Rüstem (Assistant Professor of History of Art, Johns Hopkins University), “Mapping Cosmopolitanism: An Eighteenth-Century Printed Ottoman Atlas and the Turn to Baroque”
    In 1732, İbrahim Müteferrika — founder in Istanbul of the first Turkish-language Ottoman printing press — published the Cihānnümā, an illustrated world atlas filled with copperplate maps. While in some ways replicating the art of traditional manuscripts, the Cihānnümā’s makers derived their maps from European printed atlases, even adapting the latter’s Baroque cartouches. Ünver Rüstem discussed these cartouches as sites for the emergence of a distinctly Ottoman reinterpretation of the Baroque that anticipated by several years the use of the same mode in Istanbul’s public architecture. Focusing on the plates signed by the Armenian engraver Mıgırdıç, Ünver Rüstem highlighted the special role of non-Muslim Ottomans in mapping this global style onto the empire’s visual culture.

    “Viewing Urban Cartographies” with Bertie Mandelblatt (Curator of Maps and Prints, John Carter Brown Library)

    Lunch break: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

    Session 2: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, John Hay Library

    “Viewing the Minassian Collection” with Shahzad Bashir (Aga Khan Professor of Islam and the Humanities, Brown University) and Holly Shaffer (Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture, Brown University), and graduate students in  Tracing Translations (HMAN 2400R)

    “Viewing the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection” with Peter Harrington (Curator of the Military Collection, John Hay Library)

    This workshop was sponsored by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, the John Hay Library, and the Lewis Walpole Library; it was part of the programming for the Collaborative Humanities course, Tracing Translations: Artistic Migrations and Reinventions in the Early Modern World, and was part of a series on topography organized by the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University.

    Collaborative Humanities Initiative, Early Modern World
  • What do a Chinese élite lady in Shanghai, a Portuguese duchess in Madrid, an Austrian queen in Lisbon, and a Bavarian countess in Augsburg all have in common? These women, in spite of distance in time and space, all became revered patronesses of the Jesuit missions in China in the early modern period.

    Candida Xu (許甘第大, 1607-1680), granddaughter of the most prominent Chinese Catholic convert of the late Ming period, the imperial Grand Secretary Xu Guangqi 徐光啓, once widowed at age forty-six poured her fortune and energies in religious endeavors within the Catholic mission, and became a paragon of patronage and holiness both for her compatriots and the European readers of her French (1688), Spanish (1691) and Dutch (1694) biographies.

    The Portuguese noblewoman and heiress Maria de Guadalupe de Lencastre y Cárdenas Manrique, Duchess of Aveiro (1630-1715), cultivated a sprawling epistolary network with Jesuit missionaries across the globe, including several in China, financially supporting them, and receiving in return spiritual blessings and information on their activities.

    Maria Anna Habsburg of Austria (1683-1754), Queen Consort of Portugal and Regent of Portugal from 1742 until 1750, through her Jesuit confessor, the Austrian astronomer of the China Portuguese mission Augustin Hallerstein, organized a lavish embassy to the Qianlong Emperor to save the Chinese church from annihilation.

    Finally, Countess Maria Theresia von Fugger-Wellenburg (1690-1762), a descendant of the Fugger banking dynasty in Swabia, through the Bavarian Jesuit Florian Bahr, supported Chinese abandoned infants and acted as a chain of communication between the Qing and the Wittelsbach courts.

    This presentation examines these prominent women’s interactions with, and patronage of, the Jesuit missionaries in China, and, how, through their correspondence, as well as their political and financial influence, they sustained a far-flung network of male ecclesiastical admirers and expressed feminine spirituality and influence across the continents.

    Eugenio Menegon teaches Chinese and world history at Boston University. His latest book, Ancestors, Virgins, and Friars: Christianity as a Local Religion in Late Imperial China (Harvard Asia Center and Harvard University Press, 2009) centers on the life of Catholic communities in Fujian province since the 1630s. His current book project is an examination of the daily life and political networking of European residents at the Qing court in Beijing in the 17th and 18th centuries.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public. 

    Early Modern World, Humanities
  • Kaijun Chen, Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Brown University, will be discussing his research in an informal talk. Pizza and soda will be provided, or feel free to bring a lunch.

    For a full list of Archaeology Brown Bag talks, please visit

    History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Nov
    9:00am - 7:00pm

    2019 New England Medieval Conference

    85 Waterman Street

    On November 2, 2019, Brown University will host the New England Medieval Conference, an annual interdisciplinary gathering of medievalists which has met in the northeast since 1974. This year, participants will be asked to consider how the human body (broadly conceived) was imagined, depicted, and treated in life and death in late antiquity and the middle ages—a topic which has received much critical attention in recent decades.

    Academic Calendar, University Dates & Events, Biology, Medicine, Public Health, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Folger Shakespeare Library Weekend Seminar
    The Visual Art of Grammar: Iconographies of Language from Europe to the Americas”

    This event is by registration only, with priority in admission accorded to faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, and advanced graduate students. The deadline to enroll is September 3, 2019. Apply.

    Grammar was the cornerstone of Renaissance humanism. The design and decoration of manuscripts and books devoted to the discipline signaled its importance, while elaborate diagrams and allegorical illustrations gave a fuller impression of the vital role of grammar in education. Such visualizations could acquire deeper significance, given the connection in ancient Greek between gramma, “drawing” or “letter,” and grammatike, source of the Latin grammatica. Further depictions and emblems were devised by creole and native artists in the Americas, as missionary linguists applied the European art of grammar to the systematization of indigenous languages in the New World. This interdisciplinary seminar will welcome up to sixteen faculty and graduate student participants to consider the early modern iconography of grammar as a basis for exploring broader historical conceptions of the relation between language and the visual field. Participants will also have the opportunity to examine copies of relevant Renaissance texts from the John Hay Library as well as a number of grammars, artes (manuals), and vocabularies of American languages in the John Carter Brown Library.

    Director: Andrew Laird is John Rowe Workman Distinguished Professor of Classics and Humanities at Brown University. His books include Powers of Expression, Expressions of Power (Oxford University Press, 1999), The Epic of America (Bloomsbury, 2006) and Antiquities and Classical Traditions in Latin America (Wiley, 2018). His most recent publications treat the relation of Latin to Amerindian languages, and the influence of European humanism on missionaries and native scholars in post-conquest Mexico. The seminar will be joined by Ahuvia Kahane (Trinity College Dublin).

    This event is presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World.

    Early Modern World, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Music Now is an informal forum series for Brown’s community of composers and music scholars. These talks are free and open to the public.

    About this Talk, “Beneath Exoticism: Hidden Hybridities in Early Modern European Music”

    The study of musical exoticism in early modern European music has focused largely on the critical analysis of forms of representation found within canonic works. Yet this overwhelming focus on cultural representation and its attendant discourses has arguably diverted attention away from asking how deeper degrees of global interconnections, European economic hegemony, and historiographic discourse shaped and influenced the making of Western art music. There are examples of hidden hybridities – performance practices, instruments, music theory – that were so thoroughly naturalized and normalized within European practice that their exotic origins were forgotten, or reinvented. Meanwhile, reflexive processes of oppositional self-definition that emerged in European music discourse as a result of global comparative ethnographies fostered new European philosophical and aesthetic perspectives on music that made people who self-identified as Europeans feel increasingly distanced from their ethnic others. In this context, a close reading of certain early modern music texts reveals a tendency to systematically erase or denigrate Jewish and Islamic influence on the musics of Europe, while some writers articulated either implicitly or explicitly a sense of a cultural incommensurability with musics of other societies, with this sense of difference and superiority reinforced by the broader patterns of taxonomic thinking. There is, however, a disconnect between the incipient subtexts of a monolithic “European” essentialism and exceptionalism in early modern historiographic discourse, on the one hand, and evidence of the diversity and non-normativity of actual performance practices, on the other. The latter suggests that there was greater continuity between European and non-European practices than is reflected in the treatises and historiographies of the time. This colloquium critiques examples of hidden hybridities in early modern European music through a subversive reading of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century texts, proposing an approach that could offer a useful paradigm to current work in the global history of music.

    About David R. M. Irving

    ICREA & Institució Milà i Fontanals–CSIC

    David R. M. Irving studied violin and musicology at Griffith University and the University of Queensland, and undertook his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge. He was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ’s College, Cambridge; held a post-doctoral position at King’s College London; then taught at the University of Nottingham, the Australian National University, and the University of Melbourne. He became an ICREA Research Professor in 2019 and is based at the Institució Milà i Fontanals-CSIC (Barcelona). His research spans from music in early modern intercultural exchange to early modern global history and historical performance practice. He is co-general editor of the forthcoming Cultural History of Music series from Bloomsbury, and co-editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Eighteenth-Century Music. His awards include the Jerome Roche Prize from the Royal Musical Association and the McCredie Musicological Award from the Australian Academy of the Humanities. [More Info]

  • India was the scene for the production of a vast, internally diverse chronicle literature in Persian during the period 1500–1900 C.E. During the 19th century, European scholars made selective use of this material to create the modern understanding of South Asian history that remains dominant to the present. Shahzad Bashir discusses concepts pertaining to time that undergird a variety of understandings of the past in the original literature, highlighting matters left out by 19th-century interpreters and their later followers invested in nationalist histories. The exploration is part of a larger project aimed at questioning the framework for ‘Islamic’ history in modern scholarship.

    Shahzad Bashir specializes in Islamic Studies with interests in the intellectual and social histories of the societies of Iran and Central and South Asia circa 14th century C.E. to the present. His published work is concerned with the study of Sufism and Shi’ism, messianic movements originating in Islamic contexts, representation of corporeality in hagiographic texts and Persian miniature paintings, religious developments during the Timurid and Safavid periods, and modern transformations of Islamic societies.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

    Early Modern World, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Theatre Without Borders/Théâtre sans frontières
    Translating, Circulating and Performing Early Modern Drama

    The conference explored the work of Corneille in the context of European theatre and the circulation of early modern drama through both translation and performance, from the 17th to the 20th century.

    Friday, September 27, 2019
    Conveners: Karen Newman, Owen F. Walker ’33 Professor of Humanities, and Lewis Seifert, Professor of French Studies
    9:00 AM – 9:30 AM Coffee and Pastries
    9:30 AM – 9:45 AM Welcome
    9:45 AM – 10:45 AM Jennifer Row (University of Minnesota) • Corneille’s Queer Temporalities
    10:45AM – 11:45 AM Christian Biet (Université Paris Nanterre) • La Place Royale, ou l’urbanisme moderne : les lieux de la nouvelle comédie
    11:45 AM – 12:00 PM Break
    12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Katherine Ibbett (Trinity College, Oxford) • Andromaque in Translation: Foreignness and Refuge
    1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Lunch
    2:30 PM – 3:30 PM François Lecercle (Université de Paris-Sorbonne) • Corneille’s Comedies and the Rise of Theatrophobia
    3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Coffee Break
    4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Michael Moon (Emory University) • Corneille, Racine, Molière, and New York Queer Theater in the 1960s and After
    5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Reception

    This conference was presented by the French Center of Excellence and the Department of Comparative Literature with the support of the French Embassy’s Cultural Services, and was co-sponsored by the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, the Department of French Studies, and the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World.

    Center of Excellence, Conference, Early Modern World, Humanities
  • The U.S.-Mexico border and divided opinions about immigration have become a matter of acute national controversy, but buried far beneath these concerns is a centuries-long tie between the United States and the wider Hispanic world, reaching back to a time well before the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. 

    Carrie Gibson received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2011, focusing on the Hispanic Caribbean in the era of the Haitian Revolution. Her latest work, El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America, was published in February 2019. She is also the author of Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day (Pan Macmillan, 2014). Before embarking on a career as a historian, Gibson was a journalist for the Guardian and Observer, and continues to contribute to media outlets. She was born and raised in the U.S., but has lived in London for more than two decades.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

    Early Modern World, Humanities
  • The U.S.-Mexico border and divided opinions about immigration have become a matter of acute national controversy, but buried far beneath these concerns is a centuries-long tie between the United States and the wider Hispanic world, reaching back to a time well before the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. This talk will outline that history, discussing the early attempts by the Spanish to place settlements in Florida in the 16th century and further efforts to extend Spain’s empire northward — until the early 19th century, when the wars for independence brought this era to an end. At the same time, this paper will situate these events in the context of the development of the United States, in order to consider the place of this largely forgotten early history in the larger vista of contemporary national memory.

    Carrie Gibson received her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 2011, focusing on the Hispanic Caribbean in the era of the Haitian Revolution. Her latest work, El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America, was published in February 2019. She is also the author of Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day (Pan Macmillan, 2014). Before embarking on a career as a historian, Gibson was a journalist for the Guardian and Observer, and continues to contribute to media outlets. She was born and raised in the U.S., but has lived in London for more than two decades.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public.

    On 9/26, Carrie Gibson will participate in a book signing preceded by an informal talk for the general public at Books on the Square. Read more .

    Early Modern World, Humanities
  • As an aesthetic form, lyric poetry has an intricate, jewel-like specificity: its linguistic play, formal innovations, and personal address have made it appear deeply rooted in particular, personal contexts, difficult to translate, its nuances perhaps near-impossible to grasp across deep cultural divides. And yet, at the same time, lyric also makes claims to the universal, speaking of timeless themes that defy historical contingencies, and seeking, ostensibly, to engage our most fundamental human feelings. This paradox — a staple of debates in studies of the lyric — takes on greater stakes when juxtaposed with the recent critical turn towards the Global Renaissance: can we speak of a “global lyric studies” of the early modern period, and why might we want to do so? What might such a thing look like? Can we usefully discuss lyric traditions in Europe and South Asia alongside each other, or are the particular literary and linguistic histories of these regions too disparate to make the comparison worthwhile? This talk explores some of the methodological, philosophical, and political challenges that plague cross-cultural studies of the lyric and suggests some avenues for future research. It considers why poetry (lyric in particular) has seemed resistant to historicism and asks how we might align aesthetic and historical considerations across geographies while studying distinctive artistic practices. In the process, Ramachandran explores a multifaceted understanding of the lyric — from the material cultures of lyric production and dissemination, its performance and transmission across different audiences, to its philosophic claims and ethical function.

    A literary critic and cultural historian of early modern Europe, Ayesha Ramachandran is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. Her first book, The Worldmakers (University of Chicago Press, 2015), charts transnational encounters and the early mechanisms of globalization from the late fifteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. It was awarded the MLA’s Scaglione prize in Comparative Literary Studies (2017), the Milton Society of America’s Shawcross Prize for the best book chapter on Milton (2016), and the Sixteenth Century Studies Association’s Founder’s Prize for the best first book manuscript (2015). Her interests, beyond the English, French, and Italian literary traditions, extend to Portuguese, Spanish, and Neo-Latin materials and more recently, with the support of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship (2016), to Persian and early modern South Asia. Her current book project, Lyric Thinking: Humanism, Selfhood, Modernity, argues for the central importance of lyric form and language in shaping new intellectual possibilities for the self in the early modern period and beyond. Moving from Petrarch to Descartes, while also considering their afterlives in modernist writing, it draws together scholarship on theories of mind, cognition, and meditation with a complex literary history of lyric’s foundational encounters with other genres, particularly the epic.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World , is free and open to the public. 

    Early Modern World, Humanities
  • Niall Atkinson, Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago researches the soundscapes of Renaissance Florence and the role of the acoustic environment in the meaning of built space and the construction of social communities. Atkinson’s talk is part of The Sensory series, which brings scholars to Brown to discuss how art and architecture play with the full range of our senses.

    Arts, Performance, HIAA Annual Lecture Series, History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Please come to the discussion of a paper by Morris Karp, PhD Candidate, Italian Studies, Brown University: “Leopardi and the Renaissance”. PDF is available upon request to [email protected]

    History, Cultural Studies, Languages, Humanities
  • Spenser, in his “Epithalamion,” invokes two figures from classical antiquity who bore children for Jove. Why Spenser invokes Maia and Alcmene, who lay with Jove against their will, is one question to be explored; another is why Spenser suggests that Jove has also lain with his own bride, Elizabeth. When we consider, however, that these unions produced Hermes and Hercules, the picture becomes clearer: Spenser is focused not on Elizabeth’s consent, but on her bearing an extraordinary heir. This de-emphasis on the erotics of love in favor of the exigency of procreation is the central legacy of Spenser’s poem for Donne’s “Epithalamion Made at Lincoln’s Inn” which dispenses altogether with the bride’s pleasure: she is a “pleasing sacrifice.” This paper will bring the myths of Maia and Alcmene into conversation with Spenser and Donne’s “Epithalamia” in order to reconsider the fate of this peculiar genre in Renaissance poetry.

    Ramie Targoff is Professor of English at Brandeis University. She teaches and studies Renaissance literature, with an emphasis on the relationship between literature and religion. She has written books on the invention of common prayer and its influence on Renaissance devotional poetry, on the works of the poet and preacher John Donne, and on Renaissance love poetry. Her newest book, Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), is a biography of the sixteenth-century Italian poet.

    Free and open to the public. This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World , is co-sponsored by the Department of English and the Marshall Woods Lectureship Foundation of the Arts.

    Early Modern World, Humanities
  • Naples possesses the relics of S. Gennaro, including his head, bones, and dried blood which melts and boils up to three times a year. The miraculous liquefaction drew visitors from all over Counter-Reformation Europe. In the seventeenth century, authors complained that even though Muley el-Hassan, the exiled king of Tunis, had seen the miracle in 1543, he still failed to convert. The example of his hard heart only enhanced the spectacular cases of those Muslims who did seek baptism, including some members of the king’s own family. 

    Free and open to the public. Please RSVP to [email protected] .

    Cristelle Baskins is Associate Professor at Tufts University where she has taught courses in Italian Renaissance Art History since 1997. Her articles on Turkmens, Syrian Christians, Armenians, and Baroque travelers have appeared in Muqarnas, Renaissance Studies, the Journal for the Society of Armenian Studies, Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and the Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome. She has held fellowships including a Fulbright-Hayes to Italy, a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Aga Khan Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Newhouse Center Fellowship at Wellesley College. In April 2019 she will participate in a day-long symposium in Tunis, co-sponsored by the University of Sfax, Tunisia, and the Spanish Embassy.

    This event, presented by the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, is free and open to the public. 

    Early Modern World, Humanities