Everything Early Modern Women

All things to do with the study of early modern women.

Attending to Early Modern Women: Action and Agency, Preliminary CFP

From Merry E Wiesner-Hanks:

Attending to Early Modern Women: Action and Agency

Preliminary Call for Proposals

 June 14-17, 2018     Milwaukee, WI

Over its time in Milwaukee, Attending to Early Modern Women first asked “where?” (Remapping Routes and Spaces, 2012). Then we asked “when?” (It’s About Time, 2015). Now we ask “how?” For both our subjects and ourselves, the answer is the same: action and agency. The conference will address these themes, posing such questions as: How do we understand the sites and modes of gendered confrontations in the early modern period? What collectivities were possible, then and now, and how and why do they form and fade? How do women imagine choice, and what role does choice or the illusion of choice play in their lives? How can our work as scholars and teachers of a distant period become action?

The conference will retain its innovative format, using a workshop model for most of its sessions to promote dialogue, augmented by a keynote lecture, and a plenary panel on each of the four conference topics: confrontation, collectivity, choice, and pedagogy. It will be held at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, and conference attendees will stay in the near-by Doubletree Hotel. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a pre-conference workshop at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Start thinking now about organizing workshop sessions. These are 90-minute sessions organized by a group of two to four leaders who circulate readings, questions, and other materials in advance through the conference website. Leaders spend no more than twenty minutes framing the issues and opening up the conversation, then facilitate active participation and focused discussion. The best workshops are often comparative and interdisciplinary, and all allow participants to share information and ignorance, pass on knowledge, ask advice, and learn something new. All workshop organizers are expected to register for, attend, and participate in the entire conference, not just their workshop.

Workshops that consider action and agency in relationship to the following topics are welcome:


Resistance and revolt; conflict within and across communities and cultures; contesting categorization; opposing authority; clashes within and across disciplines; crises and resolutions


Cultural, intellectual, and religious spaces; familial and economic networks; labor organization; building consensus; objects in circulation; collaboration and alliances; expressing identities; border-crossing


Creativity and imagination; constraint; autonomy and agency beyond the human realm; articulating sexuality; consumer practices and material culture


Engaged scholarship in public spaces and the classroom; defending the premodern and the humanities; choosing technologies; learners as agents

The formal call for proposals will be out this summer, and the due date for proposals will be November 15.

In the meantime, if you have an idea for a workshop session or questions about the conference, please contact Merry Wiesner-Hanks, ATW-2018 Organizing Committee Chair, at atw-2018@uwm.edu.


CFP: Early Modern Women, Religion, Theology, and Spirituality (4/3/17; 10/26-29/17)

Organizers: Anne Larsen, Julie Campbell, and Diana Robin

We would like to propose panels on women’s participation in the areas of religion, theology, spirituality, and roles of women in the church on the Continent and in England in the early modern period. As more information comes to light about women’s participation in activities involving preaching, prophesying, experimental spirituality, and religious controversies during the early modern era, it is clear that we have much to learn about the women who incorporated such activities into their lives and, in some cases, dedicated their lives to such pursuits.

The questions we would like to ask are: How did these women pursue these activities? Who were their sponsors, mentors, collaborators, and spiritual companions? How were they accepted or rejected in the contexts of their activities? What means of participation did they use—writing, oratory, conversation, or experimentation? What sorts of educations enabled these women to participate in these areas?

Please send abstracts of no more than 150 words and a one-page C.V. by Monday 3 April, by email attachment, to each of the following:

Anne Larsen, French, Hope College alarsen@hope.edu

Julie Campbell, English, Eastern Illinois University jdcampbell@eiu.edu

Diana Robin, Classics and Italian, Newberry Library, Diana.robin@rcn.com

CFP: English Renaissance Literature excluding Drama (SCMLA 3/31/17; 10/5-8/17)

We are currently accepting submissions for the Renaissance Literature excluding Drama panel of the South Central Modern Language Association conference, October 5-8, 2017, in Tulsa, OK.
The topic is open, but we encourage paper proposals to engage meaningfully with some aspect of the conference theme, “Moving Words: Migrations, Translations, and Transformations” Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words to Jessica C. Murphy & Rebecca Sader (jessica.c.murphy@gmail.com) by March 31, 2017.
For more information on the SCMLA and the conference location, visit http://www.southcentralmla.org/

CFP: Renaissance Drama (SCMLA 3/31/17; 10/5-8/17)

The conference theme is “Moving Words: Migrations, Translations, and Transformations,” but papers are welcome on any topic pertaining to Renaissance Drama. Send abstracts of 250 words to Rochelle Bradley (rochelle.bradley@blinn.edu).

Source: cfp | call for papers

Women Writers Online free in March

From Julia Flanders:
We are delighted to announce that Women Writers Online (http://wwp.northeastern.edu/wwo/) will once again be free during March, in celebration of Women’s History Month. This collection includes almost 400 texts written and translated by women, first published between 1526 and 1850. For more information on getting started with WWO, please see this post (http://wwp.northeastern.edu/blog/free-march/) on our blog.

In addition to WWO, we also have several publications that are always open-access, including:
• Women Writers in Review: a collection of almost 700 reviews of and responses to works by the authors in WWO. WWiR is open access and linked with WWO, so that readers can easily navigate between both collections. http://wwp.northeastern.edu/review/
• Women Writers in Context: a collection of essays exploring topics related to early women’s writing. WWiC provides core background information for the texts in WWO and WWiR, while highlighting shared themes and historical interconnections and helping readers to discover new works by women writers. http://wwp.northeastern.edu/context/
• Teaching materials: We have recently begun an initiative to partner with faculty on developing assignments and activities using WWO and WWiR. You’ll find more information on our teaching partner program, along with an initial set of assignments here: http://wwp.northeastern.edu/wwo/teaching/pedagogical-dev.html
Please feel free to contact us (WWP@northeastern.edu) if you would like more information about WWO or any of the Women Writers Project’s publications.

We hope that you enjoy these collections!

Best wishes, Julia

Julia Flanders
Director, Women Writers Project
Northeastern University

CFP: “Show thy queere substance”: The Queer, the Early Modern and the Now (3/3/2017; 7/7-8/2017)

“Show thy queere substance”: The Queer, the Early Modern and the Now

Friday 7th July (evening) and Saturday 8th July 2017

Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies, University of Westminster



A 2015 episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race saw the work of Shakespeare make a perhaps rather surprising appearance on the show. In the episode, titled ‘Shakesqueer’, the season eight queens performed in rewritten Shakespeare plays – Romeo and Juliet became ‘Romy and Juliet’ and Macbeth became ‘Macbitch’. In 2016, the Globe gave us a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Helenus (played by male actor Ankur Bahl) rather than Helena, transforming the relationship with Demetrius (and indeed Lysander) into an overtly queer one. At exactly the same moment, Russell T. Davies inserted a lesbian kiss into his BBC adaptation of the same play – a kiss which prompted Katie Hopkins to declare “I don’t want Shakespeare queered-up so you feel more at home”.


This queer cultural exploration of the Early Modern is happening at the same time that academic scholarship continues to use queer theoretical frames as a way of illuminating and interrogating Early Modern texts and contexts. Notably, this can be seen in John S. Garrison’s Friendship and Queer Theory in the Renaissance: Gender and Sexuality in Early Modern England (2013); Simone Chess’ Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature: Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations (2016); and Will Stockton’s forthcoming Members of His Body (2017), amongst many, many others.


This one-day symposium seeks to ask two questions: firstly, what can queer frames tell us about Early Modern texts and contexts? Secondly, in what ways can the Early Modern (be it literature, culture or politics) speak to queer cultures in the present? To put it another way?, what do queer reiterations of Early Modern texts and contexts achieve in the present?


Topics may include but not be limited to:

  • the intersections between queerness and race in both Early Modern; texts/contexts and contemporary reiterations of Early Modern cultural artefacts;
  • queer uses of Early Modern texts in the contemporary;
  • queer readings of Early Modern texts or contexts;
  • what it means to suggest that a “queered-up” Shakespeare (for example) might make one feel “more at home”;
  • consideration of contemporary productions of Early Modern plays which draw out queerness or which introduce queerness;
  • queer history/histories.


Abstract of 250 words, accompanied by a short bio, should be submitted to Kate Graham at k.graham1@westminster.ac.uk by March 3rd 2017.


The symposium is supported by the Queer London Research Forum and the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster.

Source: cfp | call for papers

Annual workshop – Women’s Studies Group 1558 – 1837: The fruitful body: gender and image

Early modern painted portraits are constructs. They result from a series of choices – what to include, what to exclude – made to suit specific contexts and purposes. Karen’s paper will consider 16th and early 17thC British portraits of women, addressing the types of information they offer to present-day users/viewers.

Source: Annual workshop – Women’s Studies Group 1558 – 1837


This series presents studies of early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities, cultures, religions, and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate diverse figures, such as travelers, merchants, mariners, cultural inventors — explorers, mapmakers, artists, craftsmen and writers — as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual, affective, and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturalism, translation, and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

  •  Material exchanges: including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge
  •  Movements and exchanges of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement
  •  Forms of transnational violence and its representations
  •  Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms, and effects on writing in other genres
  •  Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences
  •  Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical
  • Aesthetic practices and systems of representation

Visit Source for Info: NEW TRANSCULTURALISMS – 1400-1800 – JYOTSNA G. SINGH

CFP: The Senses in the Construction of Gender (6/30/17; 3/30-31/18)

Over the past three decades, research on the discourses on the equality/inequality between the sexes has intensified. In the context of the British Isles, it has particularly focused on the period 1540-1640 which was particularly prolific on the subject in the wake of the Reformation, Renaissance humanism and the succession of three queens on the English and Scottish thrones. The controversies of that time reactivated at least four debates inherited from the middle Ages: the debate on marriage, the contest for knowledge, the debate on woman’s rule and finally the debate about clothes and gender roles. Those debates raised the following questions: was it in the interest of both sexes to be married? Should women have access to education and culture for their benefit and that of society at large? Could women rule without being de facto tyrants? And finally, a question that might sound subsidiary but which makes perfect sense in the light of the others: could men and women cross-dress without turning the world upside down?

In most cases, the scholarly works that have analyzed those different debates have focused on the differences between men and women in terms of intellectual and moral abilities that formed the core of the arguments of the philogynists and the misogynists. In so doing, they have almost entirely left out if not the body at least the five senses. Yet historians of the senses such as Constance Classen, Robert Jütte and David Howes have shown that the five senses were used in the various attempts to build a gender hierarchy in the XVIth, XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. On the one hand, the senses were used to oppose one sex to the other, with man being traditionally described as a reasonable animal contrary to woman presented as a sensual creature. On the other hand, the masculine and the feminine have in turn been used to build a hierarchy between the senses since Plato and Aristotle, as for example, in De Sensu by Charles Bouvelles (1470-1559), and down to Molyneux’s problem and Locke’s empiricism. The noble senses (sight and hearing), traditionally associated with the mind, have thus been considered as masculine and the senses of proximity (taste, smell and touch), more corporeal, as feminine. It is not surprising therefore that Biblical exegesis should have attributed the responsibility of the fall to Eve’s greediness.

The senses were also used in the ancient theories of gender and sex, still influential in the early modern period, to differentiate between men and women from a sensory perspective. The male sensorium was seen as distinct from the female sensorium. In the humoral theory developed in the Hippocratic corpus on which the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century medicine was still based, woman is cold and wet while man is warm and dry. People also believed that they could tell man and woman apart by touching them, smelling them, looking at them or listening to them. According to the poet Lucretius, men’s scent is sweet while women’s stench is disgusting and foul, and in Socrates’ thought, borrowing the perfume of the opposite sex was as reprehensible as cross-dressing. As Thomas Laqueur demonstrated in an important work entitled Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (1990), the advances in medicine in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, and particularly in physiology, redefined the sexes along anatomical and physiological lines, which led to a more precise – and to some extent normative – definition of female sensitivity.

Finally, Aristotle (in Generation of Animals) argues in favour of colour-gender norms to distinguish between men and women visually: for the former, dark clothes indicating their strength and gravity, for the latter, and merely for the sake of symmetry, light colours. This gender-specific apparel, however, has evolved over the centuries and it would be interesting to delve into what Elisabeth Fisher has called “a chromatic taxonomy” of clothes at all stages of life from the XVIth to the XVIIIth century.[1]. In addition, the different sounds produced by the two sexes with their clothes, jewellery, musical instruments or any other objects as well as their voices are also elements that can potentially be gendered and used to classify the sexes. Beside the research on shrews and gossips, who were stock characters in the popular pamphlets of the Querelle, gender-specific sounds in the early modern period have been little studied. It would therefore be interesting to investigate the various sources that can be used to try to make the sounds and vocal activity of the two sexes heard again.

The aim this conference is to investigate the role played by the senses in shaping gender differences. How did the senses help justify gender inequalities and stigmatize any form of rebellion against masculine domination ; how did different discourses on the senses in pamphlets, treatises or plays nevertheless surface to defend the opposite theses of female superiority or of the equality between the sexes ? Paintings and engravings representing the five senses could also be used, perhaps, to shed light on this question and encourage us, in the wake of Margaret Zimmerman’s invitation, to look for “the Querelle of the sexes” in different and less common places.[2]

Finally, in the perspective inaugurated by Linda Woodbridge,[3] we shall also seek to historicize contemporary theoretical and literary discourses in the light of the social history of women in the British Isles. We will for instance try to highlight the mechanisms of socialisation for men and women which are based on the senses, sometimes from early childhood, on the ground that they were shaped in a predetermined way which defined everyone’s position in society. Prescriptive literature (conduct books, sermons, treatises on education, etc…) and newsbooks can be used to bring to the fore the rules of civility which were designed to restrain the appetite (for instance), as also to codify the way men and women were supposed to look at or to touch things and people, or to modulate their voices when they spoke. The specific objects that helped give shape to these gendered codes can also be studied here.

The conference organizers welcome papers on questions such as:

1. How did misogynists use the senses in their argument to justify gender hierarchy through the alleged inability of women to keep their senses under check? Through the theory of a sensorial plot hatched by women to blind men and even disempower them? By the association between the senses and moral degradation? Between the senses and mysticism, or witchcraft, or possession?

2. How did philogynists defend women and gender equality through: the disparagement of men as sensual creatures and the praise of women as rational creatures; a reappraisal of the feminine senses and of women’s sensory abilities?

3. Which aspects of early women’s position met with positive or negative responses in these discourses in terms of: rules and precepts? Ownership and use of gendered objects? Practices of corporal mortification? Criminalisation and corporal punishments (scold’s bridle, cucking stool)?

Abstracts of about 150 words for 25-minute papers should be sent to the following address : sens_2018@yahoo.com, before 30 June 2016.

Organizers:  Armel Dubois-Nayt, Line Cottegnies, Claire Boulard et Isabelle Bour (PEARL – PRISMES : EA 4398), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle / DYPAC : EA 2449, Université Versailles-Saint-Quentin.


[1] « Robes et Culottes courtes : l’habit fait-il le sexe ? », in A. Dafflon Novelle, Filles-Garçons : Sociabilisation différenciée ?, Grenoble, PUG, 2006, p. 241-266.

[2] « The Querelle des Femmes as a Cultural Studies Paradigm », in A. Jacobson Schutte, T. Kuehn & S. Seidel Menchi (éd.), Time, Space, and Women’s Lives in Early Modern Europe, Kirksville (Missouri), Truman State UP, 2001, p.17-28.

[3] Linda Woodbridge, Women and the English Renaissance : Literature and the Nature of Womankind, 1540-1620, Brighton : Harvester, 1984.

Source: cfp | call for papers

CFP: Early Modern Satire: Themes, Re-Evaluations and Practices (2/15/17; 11/2 – 4/17)

Early modern satire – broadly, from c. 1500 to c. 1800 – is a vast but still underexamined field of representation. Although flourishing in certain periods and certain places, satire can be said to be integral to the European project, often challenging the limits of tolerance and evoking hostility but also associated, increasingly in this period, with notions of freedom and enlightenment. This conference, hosted by University of Gothenburg, seeks to position satire as a mode of representation throughout early modern Europe and clarify its role in politics, culture and religion. We seek proposals from scholars in all fields who work on aspects of satire in the period. Especially welcome are contributions that explore satire as a form of representation existing across boundaries – of territories, of genres and/or periods. We also welcome proposals that situate satire in a wider aesthetic context, including cross-disciplinary work that seeks to address satire as a mode of for example visual representation.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The mediation of satire. Described variously as a ‘genre’ and a ‘mode’, satire often transgresses medial and generic boundaries during the early modern period. Is satire more of an ‘intermedial’ phenomenon in certain periods and places?
  • The gendering of satire. Early modern satire in has been characterized as very much a male enterprise. Are there variations over time and between places, as regards for example female authorship, and in terms of form and theme, how does satire depict aspects of femininity and masculinity?
  • Satire and censorship. Always having had a complex relationship with authority, satire in the early modern period also saw the rise of the print medium and various attempts at regulating published output. How do censorship and other forms of regulative interventions shape satirical texts (in a wide sense)?
  • Perspectives on the classical heritage. Although a thoroughly investigated field, the relationship between early modern satire and its classical predecessors is still relevant as a field of inquiry. Just how dependent was early modern satire on its Horatian, Juvenalian and other role models?
  • Satire and religion. While relating to classical forms and themes, satire also has a complex relation to Christian religion as both a target and a formative system of belief. In what ways do changes in religious institutions and norms affect the production of early modern satire?
  • Satire and medical discourse. The frequent description of satire as ‘melancholy’, for example, suggests links to humoral theory and other aspects of physiology. To what extent can satire be understood in such terms?
  • Satire and the canon. While for example literary history has ascribed a central role to satire in the 18th century, scholarly discussion is often based on select examples and relegate others to the margin. What are the social and historical determinants of the ‘lasting appeal’ of certain satirical texts?

Confirmed keynote speakers include Francesca Alberti (University of Tours), Victoria Moul (King’s College London), Ola Sigurdson (University of Gothenburg) and Howard Weinbrot (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Presentations are strictly limited to 20 minutes in length. A 250-word abstract, a title, and a 50-word biographical statement should be submitted to earlymodernsatire@lir.gu.se by 15 February, 2017. Enquiries may be directed to this address, to Dr. Per Sivefors at per.sivefors@lnu.se or Dr. Rikard Wingård at rikard.wingard@lir.gu.se.

Web: http://lir.gu.se/forskning/forskningssamverkan/tidigmoderna-seminariet/e…

Source: cfp | call for papers