CFP: New Worlds, New Publics (02/01/08; 09/25/08-09/27/08)

by Jessica C. Murphy

New Worlds, New Publics: Re(con)figuring Association and the Impact of European Expansion, 1500-1700
The Newberry Library, Chicago
September 25-27, 2008
This symposium and the publication to follow from it are funded by the interdisciplinary project on Making Publics: Media, Markets and Association in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700. Supported by a Major Collaborative Research Initiative grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this project examines the various forces that shaped the emergence and evolution of “publics”: open-membership groups that coalesced around practices, interests, ideas, values and forms of publication or performance in the early modern period.
Accounts of the cultural, intellectual, social and spiritual transformations of early modern Europe have often weighed the role of new media, technologies, techniques and markets, while ignoring the impact that new geographic discoveries had on the Old World beyond the purview of politics and economics. These discoveries not only expanded the horizons of European thought but, more essentially, called into question the certainties of classical and religious teachings. The result was a twofold opportunity fraught with practical concerns and constraints: the challenge to go beyond the known, looking outward, and to look again inward with new eyes and new expectations.
This symposium proposes to examine the effects that these various
processes had upon publics in Europe and in the new domains of European expansion and influence. How did racial, ethnic and cultural differences impact upon traditional concerns, modes of thought, institutions, practices or forms of association? Did “positionality,” one’s physical location, affect the publics found there? For example, how did Puritan publics in Europe differ from those in America? Did the publics of Spanish Creoles in America differ from those of Peninsular Spaniards? Were the roles of science and the arts the same in European publics at home and abroad? And more generally: how was the creation and evolution of publics informed by European discoveries in Africa, Asia, America and elsewhere in the early modern period? How did these new publics differ, especially in the eyes of their members, from traditional bodies such as guilds, universities, congregations or parliaments?
The symposium will consist of a keynote address and four plenary sessions, with twenty to thirty 30-minute papers, between Thursday and Saturday, 25-27 September 2008. It is likely that some financial support will be available to help defray the travel and lodging expenses of those chosen to give papers.
Proposals (1-page abstracts + brief CVs) and inquiries should be sent to the symposium director, Professor David A. Boruchoff (McGill University) at: Proposers are encouraged to consult the Making Publics website ( The deadline for receipt of proposals is 1 February 2008.