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Prosopography of Renaissance Musicians, Writers, and Artists

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Organizers: Susan Weiss (Johns Hopkins University) and Ich Fujinaga (McGill University)

Historians have long studied how people—families, friends, coteries, ‘tribes’— associated with each other and participated in various kinds of formal and informal groups. In 1971, writing in Daedalus, Lawrence Stone stated that this kind of historical study, known as prosopography, “is an investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group, whose individual biographies may be largely untraceable, by means of a collective study of their lives, in multiple career-line analysis.” Some modern critics believe that a number of early biographies contain errors that are so tantalizing as to have become accepted as fact.

In 2009 Anthony Grafton noted “the interpretation of texts now goes hand in hand with the reconstruction of intellectual and publishing communities.” In the wake of advances in social media and computer technologies, the field of prosopography has received a resurgence of interest. Recent work, in both print and digital publications, includes the substantial, long-term human history project at McGill University, which aims to build a distributed international database of documented human history, as well as more focused studies, such as those of literary figures—Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, and British women authors—and those on circles of Renaissance musicians.

Current digital projects are working to increase our ability to connect artists with writers, printers, patrons, and others in their orbits. Studies aim to assess the veracity of social networks and determine circles of influence and patterns of patronage. The results are essential for scholars, teachers, and students of Renaissance culture. We welcome papers that explore aspects of prosopographical research—analog and/or digital.

Please send by June 5 2016 to

  • Individual paper titles, not to exceed 15 words
  • A 150-word maximum paper abstract
  • A 300-word max 1 page CV in paragraph form
  • Keywords (general, not specific)
  • AV requirements

Tags:  literary networks  Music History  prosopography 

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