Call for Papers: Conversion Narratives in the Early Modern World (12/1/10; 6/9-11/11)

by Jessica C. Murphy

June 9th-11th 2011

University of York, UK

Keynote speakers:  Irene Fosi (Chieti) and Nabil Matar (Minnesota)

The period between 1550 and 1700 was one of widespread religious conversion, prompted by the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, encounters between European states and the Ottoman Empire, and the expansion of global trade and exploration. This conference will investigate the variety of ways in which men and women created stories about conversion. It will ask not only what constituted conversion (whether understood as a change or as an intensification of faith) in this period, but also how narrative shaped people’s expectations of religious change and enabled them to articulate their experience in a variety of ways.

The conference forms part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project ‘Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe, 1550-1700’. We welcome submissions that deal with any aspect of this topic, and are particularly keen to receive papers that will help us to develop a global perspective. The project is interdisciplinary in scope, and we invite not only literary and historical, but art historical, anthropological, and other approaches.

Possible questions may include but need not be limited to:

  • How did the experience of conversion differ according to region, faith, status, age and race?
  • What genres of narrative were used? How did these interact with the particular circumstances in which people converted?
  • Did men and women have different understandings and experiences of conversion?
  • How did conversion narratives circulate? How do manuscript and print accounts differ from each other?
  • How popular were these texts? How were they appropriated and revised? What was their audience?
  • How did conversion relate to other border-crossings, including trade, diplomacy, slavery, exploration and colonization?
  • What role did the material world play in shaping conversion?
  • How did the experience of conversion relate to ideas about the self?
  • What methodologies are appropriate to the study of conversion and narrative?

Abstracts of c. 300 words should be submitted to conversionnarratives@york.ac.uk by 1st December 2010. Submissions of panels and individual papers will be equally welcome. For more information about the ‘Conversion Narratives’ project visit www.york.ac.uk/conversion.

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