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RSA Dublin 2021 Calls for Papers
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This blog is a space for RSA members to post calls for papers and lightning talks for sessions in all disciplines to be held at RSA Dublin 2021. Papers could be solicited for a traditional panel or a seminar session which will have pre-circulated papers.

To post a CfP, log in to your RSA account and select the "Add New Post" link further down this page. Make sure to include the organizer's name, email address, and a deadline for proposals. The session organizer is responsible for uploading the finalized proposal to the RSA Dublin 2021 submission site.

The general submission deadline for RSA Dublin 2021 is 15 August 2020. For more details on the submission process, see the Submission Guidelines page.

Members may subscribe to the blog to be notified when new CfPs are posted: click on the word Subscribe next to the green checkmark above. 

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Top tags: Art and Architecture  Art History  Italian Renaissance Art  History  English Literature  Women and Gender  Book History  Italian Literature  Medicine and Science  Visual Studies  Classical Tradition  Comparative Literature  Philosophy  Humanism  Material Culture  Religious Studies  Literature  Performing Arts and Theater  Religion  Rhetoric  Legal and Political Thought  Neo-Latin Literature  Digital Humanities  Hispanic Literature  Associate Organizations  French Literature  history of science  interdiscplinary  Italy  Renaissance Architecture 


Posted By Samantha J. Hughes-Johnson, Monday, August 3, 2020


(Deadline: 10 August 2020)


The Society for Confraternity Studies will sponsor a number of sessions at the 67thAnnual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (7- 10 April 2021) in Dublin. Accordingly, it invites proposals for papers on the following theme:


Contagium: Exploring the Nexus Between Confraternity, Pandemic and Renaissance Society



Since global communities are currently experiencing the liminal stage of withdrawing from varying degrees of quarantine and social isolation, the Society for Confraternity Studies is keen to scrutinize how Renaissance lay charitable institutions and sodalities grappled with the corporeal, emotional and fiscal injuries caused by society’s exposure to pandemics and epidemics and how their various actions can inform our own social, economic and psychological recuperation. Accordingly, we invite papers that explore the breadth and impact of lay sodalities operating in affected geographical areas between 1300 and 1700. Papers might focus on, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • The impact of pandemics on the restrictions of goods and humans and how quarantines, social distancing and limitations on travel affected regular confraternity operations and in turn, touched recipients of charity.
  • Legacies and donations awarded to confraternities in light of the plague. Including comparative studies of bequests during times of epidemic and good fortune and those that juxtapose geographically disparate data for the purpose of analysis.
  • The orientation of medical science and spiritual doctrine during epidemics and lay charitable institutions’ roles in this co-ordination.
  • Artistic commissions of confraternities and other lay charitable institutions and how these reflected the various injuries caused to society by outbreaks of pestilence. 
  • The impact of post-plague art, architecture, drama, music and ephemera commissioned by confraternities on public spaces and/or the popular conscience.
  • The actual and notional value of prophylactic measures designed to protect the body and soul during outbreaks and to what extent these were taken up by lay brotherhoods.
  •  Confraternity membership and how this was affected by one or more of the following: fear of mass burial; church and oratory closure; fear of the afterlife; concerns regarding spiritual conduct in the face of imminent death. 
  • The personal toll of plague on those lay brothers and sisters entrusted with public service, healthcare and the custody of people or objects.
  • The influence of pestilence on public and private confraternal ritual. 


Papers should concentrate on confraternal activities between 1300 and 1700. We are however, also particularly interested in proposals that discuss the value of emerging confraternity studies focusing on historical pandemics and how their findings can inform our own twenty-first century recuperation following our recent encounter with Covid 19. 

Proposals should include the presenter’s name, academic affiliation, email, the paper title (no longer than 15 words), the abstract of the paper (no longer than 150 words), a short academic C.V. (between one and five pages), and a series of key-words that suit the presentation. Please be sure all seven (7) categories of information are clearly provided. 

Please submit your proposal to Dr Samantha J.C. Hughes-Johnson at by [10 August 2020].

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  black death  bubonic plague  charity  confraternity  death and gender  Death studies  History  History of Medicine  history of science  hospitals  interdiscplinary  Italian Renaissance Art  lay sisterhoods  Material Studies  Medicine and Science  Performing Arts and Theater  piety  Religious Studies  Renaissance  renaissance medicine  ritual  Women and Gender 

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In the Margins: Hidden Thinkers and Makers in Early Modern Scientific Texts

Posted By Michelle DiMeo, Monday, July 27, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Panel Title: In the Margins: Hidden Thinkers and Makers in Early Modern Scientific Texts

Session Organizers:

Michelle DiMeo, Ph.D., Director of the Othmer Library, Science History Institute

Megan Piorko, Candidate*, Allington Postdoctoral Fellow, Science History Institute 

Early modern scientific manuscripts and printed texts are filled with material evidence of practitioners working through the technical knowledge presented on the page. When a text was subsequently copied, the knowledge created in the margins of the text was frequently subsumed into the reproduced copy, allowing readers to add to the canon of knowledge. Similarly, heavily annotated texts were shared between friends and among intellectual circles, showing that marginal notes were not at all marginal to the knowledge-making process. However, many of these readers, thinkers, and makers who contributed to advancing scientific knowledge are anonymous to us today. How does our treatment of known and unknown readers’ responses to scientific texts inform the study of early modern knowledge creation? What can we learn from early modern voices that have been relegated to the margins? What new methodologies are required for us to identify and recover these hidden thinkers and makers? Some examples of topics might include (but are in no way limited to):

• Evidence of readership and ownership of scientific texts

• Anonymous authors and annotators, especially women

• Popular culture responses to scientific texts

• Material evidence of tacit knowledge on the page

• Interaction between print and manuscript cultures

• New methodologies for history of the book scholarship that illuminate marginalized intellectual actors

This panel is sponsored by the Science History Institute, an RSA Associate Organization. Acceptance onto this panel guarantees acceptance by the RSA. 

To propose a paper, please send a paper title (15-word maximum), an abstract (150-word maximum), curriculum vitae (no longer than 5 pages; please include date of PhD expected or completed), and full name, current affiliation, and email address by August 10th to Michelle DiMeo ( and Megan Piorko (

Tags:  Book History  History of Science  interdiscplinary  Materials and Materiality  Medicine and Science  Women and Gender 

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CfP: Andrea Cesalpino (1519–1603), a Physician, Philosopher, and Botanist in Renaissance Italy

Posted By RSA, Monday, July 20, 2020

As his activities intersect, and innovatively shape various fields, Andrea Cesalpino was a key figure in Renaissance culture. Alongside with his work as a professor of botany and medicine at the University of Pisa, where he directed the botanical garden, and as a professor of medicine in Rome and a personal physician to Pope Clemente VIII, Cesalpino’s writings testify to a largely innovative approach to natural philosophy.

For example, his philosophical work, Quaestionum peripateticarum libri V (1569) provides an Aristotelian perspective with traces of Averroes. In his medical texts, Cesalpino reveals important insights in the aspects of blood circulation. In De plantis libri XVI (1583), he crucially frames botanical studies within an Aristotelian architecture, laying down the foundation of plant morphology and physiology of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Yet, he also focused on magic in Daemonum investigation (1580) and metallurgy in De metallis (1596).

While these texts are well-known by specialists, a more complete investigation of Cesalpino as a whole is missing in recent scholarship. In this panel, we aim to explore Cesalpino’s work in detail, unearthing the importance of his studies in different fields and discussing Cesalpino as a major figure in Renaissance knowledge. While the inspection of Cesalpino’s work per se lags behind, and thus the aim of this panel is to fill a gap in scholarship, investigating the debates over Cesalpino’s in the sixteenth century and the reception and presence of Cesalpino in the early modern time suits the scope of the panel.

Proposals for the panel should be sent to by the end of July 2020 and should contain a 15-word title, an abstract of 150-word maximum (word count is mandatory!), max 5 page cv, PhD or other terminal degree completion date (past or expected), and full name, affiliation, email address.

The panel is sponsored by the RSA Discipline Representative for Medicine and Science.

Tags:  Humanism  Medicine and Science  Philosophy 

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De-centering the Republic of Letters: Non-European and understudied European transnational learned and literary commonalities

Posted By Dirk K. van Miert, Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The modern study of the early modern ‘Republic of Letters’ usually celebrates the moral heritage of the values of this social phenomenon: egalitarianism, tolerance, the idea of sharing knowledge, and meritocracy. Yet, the Republic of Letters was highly exclusive: it was academic, white, male, European, and heterosexual, and as such self-consciously elitist. The label of the ‘Republic of Letters’ also is predominantly attached to north-western Europe, and privileges the protestant learned world. Yet, within and outside of Europe, there were numerous learned networks active that did not fare under the name of a ‘Republic of Letters’, but that did function in the same ways. This (series of) panel(s) aims to bring together scholars who study such early modern transnational learned communities and draw comparisons and contrasts, in order to shed more light on the essence of what constitutes a transnational scholarly and scientific community. Do we always capture learned commonality in terms of networks? And what kind of networks apart from the obvious epistolary ones that are so typical of the Republic of Letters: (co-)citation networks, books linking people, networks of learned families, master-apprentice relations, inter-institutional correspondence, shared membership of institutions or societies, academic enrollment networks, disputations linking people?

In the shadow of the study of the Republic of Letters, some attention has been paid to alternative learned and literary communities, even if these did not go under the name of a ‘Republic of Letters’. On the one hand, modern historians have labeled sub-sections of the Republic of Letters with names that were never actors’ categories, such as the ‘Republic of Women’, the ‘Republic of Drawings’, the ‘Republic of Materials’, or even the ‘Republic of Electrons’. Some of the people belonging to these groups constituted minorities within the oecumene of the Republic of Letters – minorities that were so precarious, that the question arises whether early modern majority scholars actually considered them to be part of the Republic of Letters at all (women, draughtsmen, artisans, Jews). Other historiographical lables such as the ‘Jesuit Republic of Letters’ or the ‘Hebrew Republic of Letters’ refer to religious or disciplinary sub-communities that were not necessarily disadvantaged (Jesuits, Christian Hebraists) but also did not necessarily associate with the Respublica literaria. More often, these labels function as modern historiographers’ attempts to emancipate groups that we now think should be part of the history of knowledge and thus deserve more or special attention. With these labels, historians specify particular communities that took an active part in the Republic of Letters: the ‘Hebrew Republic of Letters’ denotes not a Jewish network, but a network of Christian scholars of Hebrew. The ‘mathematical Republic of Letters’ is a historiographical construct that suggests that there were networks of people who communicated in particular about mathematics. And how current was the term ‘Republic of Letters’ anyway in, say, the Iberian peninsula or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?

But also outside Europe existed expressions of transnational learned commonalities. For example, in the early 19th-century communication between intellectuals from Japan, Korea and China, the notion of cheonaejigi (天涯知己), denotes a horizontal mutual relationship with an open communication channel bridging the distance between scholars in different lands.

This series of panels invites speakers to submit proposals about alternative Republics of Letters: early modern learned networks (from the late medieval period onwards, spilling over into the 19th century) other than the all too familiar North-west European protestant one. We invite scholars to submit proposals on explicit expressions of learned and/or literary commonality: utterances in the past that confirm or long for communication across boundaries (political, religious, linguistic, social, cultural, etc.): celebrations in the sources of transnational co-operation, mutual respect and freedom of thinking and writing.

The chronological range of this conference is limited to the ‘long’ early modern period, but potentially runs from the late medieval period up into the 19th century. For non-European history, this periodisation does not apply.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  academies  commonwealth  community  eurocentrism  haskalah  History  history of learning  history of scholarship  history of science  inclusivity  learned commonality  Medicine and Science  networks  Republic of Letters  respublica literaria  social networks  societies 

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Theatres of Knowledge: On the Theatricalisation of Scientific Practices

Posted By Oscar Seip, Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Updated: Monday, July 20, 2020

Studying the intertwined history of the theatre and the sciences is crucial to understand the development of different styles and strategies that developed during the Early Modern Period for the discovery and presentation of knowledge. Indeed, previous scholarship has studied the importance of the locality of the theatre to understand how scientific practitioners acquired and disseminated knowledge. While this has focused on the anatomy theatre, its impact beyond the field of medicine has received relatively little consideration. In this panel, we explore the anatomy theatre in relation to a broader vision of the world as a theatre.

Bringing together case studies from various contexts allows us to explore our main question of how the anatomy theatre relates to a hypothesised radical shift towards the theatricalisation of scientific practices. Did it lead to a new genre of printed works? Was it a new tool and practice of observing the world? Were these observations recorded and transmitted in a new and unique way?  How is the theatre different from contemporary metaphors such as the mirror and the book of nature? How does the theatre relate to the concepts of performance and spectacle? In other words, is there a distinctly theatrical style and strategy for the discovery and presentation of knowledge?

Our aim is to compare case studies of the theatre’s use across different periods (from the Early Modern period to the Enlightenment), fields of science or subjects (e.g. geography, medicine, architecture, mathematics), and different kinds of knowledge (practical or theoretical) and the different styles and strategies that they employ to represent this knowledge (figural/pictorial or abstract and textual). Particular attention will be given in this to the translation from the (imaginative) mental and physical space of the theatre to the space of the page.

We invite speakers (including junior scholars) from literary studies as well as intellectual history and history of science to submit papers. Proposals for 20-minute papers (no more than 150 words), together with a short CV should be sent to by 31 July 2020. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions.


Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Book History  Digital Humanities  Dissection  English Literature  European literature  History  History of Medicine  History of Science  Humanism  Italian Literature  Italian Renaissance Art  Material Culture  Medicine and Science  Neo-Latin Literature  Performing Arts and Theater  Renaissance  Visual Studies 

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Spenser and Environmental Thinking

Posted By Debapriya Sarkar, Sunday, July 5, 2020

This panel seeks papers that bring Spenser’s writings into conversation with twentieth- and twenty-first-century environmental writing. Recent scholarship has uncovered the centrality of what we would call ecocritical thinking in Spenser’s poetry. This panel aims to expand on those conversations by placing this sixteenth-century poetry directly in conversation with recent works of fiction and non-fiction. What can texts written in our current moment of ecological crisis reveal about early modern relations of nature and culture? How might Spenserian forms—allegory, pastoral, lyric—expand our understanding of the ways in which literary texts make intelligible the “unthinkable” aspects of the Anthropocene? Papers might consider: intersections of social, ecological, and racial justice; activism and scholarship; definitions of “nature,” “human,” and “nonhuman” across different historical periods; literary worldmaking; genres of environmental literature.

This is a guaranteed panel.

Please submit the following materials to Susanne Wofford and Debapriya Sarkar at by July 25 to be considered for inclusion: paper title; abstract (150-word maximum); 3-5 keywords; and a one-page abbreviated curriculum vitae (300-word maximum). Please note that RSA is very strict about word count: the system will not accept entries that go beyond the maximum limit.

Tags:  Associate Organizations  Ecocriticism  English Literature  History of Science  interdiscplinary  Medicine and Science  Spenser 

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Materials of the Body – Materials of the Painting

Posted By Maria F. Hansen, Thursday, July 2, 2020

Ideas of correspondences between the substances of the human body, the materials of the earth and cosmos can be traced back to ancient philosophy. In the early modern period, these affinities blurred the lines between doctors, alchemists and artists, who shared a capacity to expose, transform or improve matter. These parallels contributed to numerous analogical representations within the visual arts, where the practices and materials of the artist were associated with living matter and the creative forces of nature and life.

This panel addresses this exchange as it took place before modern scientific distinctions between objective explanations and artistic interpretations of the world and its materials. This also entails a collapse of any sharp distinction between organic and inorganic matter, which we instead invite to be seen as perceptually entangled. Recent developments in the understanding of the human body, matter and its embeddedness in the world strengthens the relevance of exploring these themes in the early modern period.

We welcome papers that explore the interpretations of materials and their consequence within visual culture. What were the intersections between representations used by artists and scientists? How did the exchange between alchemy, medical science and art take place? Can a historical perspective on art and science and a critical focus on the exchange between the disciplines shed new light on singular artworks or artists? Topics might include alchemical or scientific imagery; intersections between cosmetics and painting; alchemical and artistic practices; history and the understanding of paint and pigments; medical illustrations; artistic materials’ association with the body and its organs; artist’s handling of stone (painted marble, artificial grottoes, decorative art, etc).

Interested participants should send a paper title, abstract (150 words max), a short CV, and A/V requirements to the session organizers Maria Fabricius Hansen at, Signe Havsteen at, and Lejla Mrgan at All presenters must register for the Annual Renaissance Society of America Meeting. The deadline for submission of materials to this panel is July 29, 2020.

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Bodies  Cosmetics and Painting  Dissection  History of Science  Italian Renaissance Art  Magic  Materials and Materiality  Medicine and Science  Philosophy 

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Alchemy, Wonder and Belief in Renaissance Naples

Posted By Marco Marino, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Aragonese court was instrumental in the spread of the Italian Renaissance around the Neapolitan area: at the time of Alfonso V (1442-58) a strong cultural program was developed.

Under Ferrante I (1458-1494) the court, along with academies focusing on philology, poetry, and scientific and political thought, became the reference points for the vernacular's culture. The hermetic, alchemical, magical, and astrological traditions formed an outstanding and well defined corpus, subsequently enriched by Pontano and his school, Telesio's naturalism, Della Porta's physiognomy, Tasso's reflections on the marvelous, up until the speculations by Giordano Bruno.

This panel intends to analyze the role of this cultural crucible in the development of the philosophical and literary thought of some of the protagonists of Renaissance Naples.

Please send proposals by 5 August 2020 via email with the subject line “RSA 2021” to Marco Marino ( The proposal should include a title (15 words max.); an abstract (200 words max.); and a one-paragraph bio (300 words max.). Please provide also full name, current affiliation, and email address.

Tags:  Alchemy  Aragonese  History  Italy  Medicine and Science  Naples  Religion  Wonder 

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The Burden of Blood in Early Modern Spain

Posted By Amy E. Sheeran, Thursday, June 25, 2020

Although blood, as a symbol, has always been replete with meanings, in the context of early modern Spain, it becomes uniquely potent. This panel seeks to consider blood as a category of representational analysis, following the lead of Gil Anidjar and Joan Scott. In particular, within the context of the ideology of blood purity with its attention to blood’s content, origin, and legibility, representations of blood are evocative and layered. Recent attention to the history of blood purity statutes and their influence, as well as to the role of blood in shaping national, imperial, and religious identity in Spain, prompts further analysis of blood’s discursive potential in the early modern Iberian world. In this panel, we aim to consider how representational works approach and articulate the multilayered meanings blood allows in this context. We welcome interdisciplinary submissions focused on literary, historical, or visual works that consider medical and scientific knowledge; blood and its relation to race; the role of blood in signaling or establishing class; theological questions and debates; blood as a nexus of gender and sexuality, and other related concerns.

Please send abstracts (150-word length) with a proposed title (15-word maximum), keywords, and a brief CV to Amy Sheeran at and Rachel Burk at by August 1.

Tags:  Comparative Literature  Hispanic Literature  interdiscplinary  Material Culture  Medicine and Science  Nobility  Religion  Spanish Empire  theology  Women and Gender 

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Call for Papers: Giordano Bruno, Theologian

Posted By Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (SMRP), Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy requests submissions for panels to be held at the RSA's Dublin 2021 (7-10 April) meeting on the topic: 'Giordano Bruno, Theologian'

During his wanderings through Europe in the 1580s, Giordano Bruno famously announced himself to the world as a philosopher. He published numerous philosophical works, taught philosophy at several Catholic and Protestant universities, and regaled acquaintances and strangers alike with, in the words of one member of his erstwhile order, ‘the fantastic, bizarre things of his invention’. Yet, by vocation, Bruno was a friar. He had entered the Dominican monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples as a novice in 1565, been ordained as a priest in 1572 and obtained a doctorate in theology in 1575.

This early phase of his intellectual career left its mark on what he called his ‘new philosophy’, for all that it contradicted Christian doctrine at almost every turn. His surviving works cite and allude to Scripture repeatedly, discuss God’s triune nature, invoke the Scriptual idea of the angels announcing God’s glory to describe the celestial bodies populating the infinite universe, and present Bruno himself as the saviour of souls, to mention just a few instances of their continuous recourse to Christian doctrine and themes.

If you would like to give a paper exploring this aspect of Bruno’s philosophy, please submit a proposal, via email, to Dilwyn Knox ( by Monday, 27 July, 2020. Your proposal should include your name, academic affiliation, email address, the title of your paper, an abstract of no more than 200 words, and a (very) brief CV or, if more convenient, a link to an online CV or the equivalent.

Tags:  Medicine and Science  Neo-Latin Literature  Philosophy  Religion  theology 

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Reviving the Scottish Renaissance: New perspectives on old alliances

Posted By Jill Harrison, Sunday, June 21, 2020

A member of the Scottish parliament recently stated that “Scotland’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world is critical not just to our economy but to our wider society”. Six hundred years earlier Scotland had reached the same conclusion and during the reigns of the Stewart kings, James I, II, III and IV, c.1406 -1530, the country actively forged significant intellectual, cultural and economic ties with Europe and beyond. While Scottish monarchs rarely travelled they fostered sophisticated diplomatic links with foreign powers and their sphere of interest and influence extended from the Low Countries, France and Italy to Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Levant.

This interdisciplinary panel seeks to reassess the reach and significance of Scotland’s geographical cultural encounters and revive the idea of a vibrant and early Scottish Renaissance, outward looking and dynamic. Papers are invited which take a fresh approach not only to works of art, architecture, literature, music and material culture but little discussed topics such as medicine, garden design and heraldry.

Please send proposals to the organizer ( by Friday, 31st July. Paper proposals must include:

  • Paper title (25 words max)
  • Abstract (150 words max)
  • Your full name, current affiliation, email address, and Ph.D. completion date (past or expected)
  • A brief c.v. (300 words max)
  • A list of keywords (8 max)

Please note: Speakers must become RSA members by November 1st.

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Cultural Networks  Gardens  Geographies  Material Culture  Medicine and Science  Scotland 

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Mining for the Earth-Based Sciences

Posted By Katie Jakobiec, Thursday, June 18, 2020

Organizers: Stefano Gulizia (PAN, Warsaw); Katie Jakobiec (University of Toronto)

This panel is sponsored by the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS), University of Toronto, for the 67th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, to be held in Dublin, Ireland, on 7-10 April 2021. We warmly invite submissions and hope to select 3-4 papers for presentation according to the following outline.

Between 1450 and 1650, in the aftermath of a great technological change in metallurgy, a vast Central European space including centres such as Trento, Chemnitz, and Goslar specialized and clustered into new industrial hubs. In our historiography of the period, as well, mining has emerged as a nexus for studying the interface between natural history, physiology, and the processing of materials. Thanks to Anna Marie Roos’s The Salt of the Earth (Brill 2007) and Laboratories of Art, edited by Sven Dupré (Springer 2014), to name only a few contributions, we have a refined understanding of how this artisanal knowledge related to alchemy and philosophy. More recently, a special issue of Renaissance Studies (34.1: 2019) edited by Tina Asmussen and Pamela O. Long undertook the ambitious and impressive task of accounting for Berggeschrey, or ‘mountain uproar’ in all its technological, legal, textual, and symbolic features, including the core ambivalence of ethnographic collections up to the new histories of labor in a reunited Germany.

By design, our session assigns a premium on epistemic practices over the two major viewpoints adopted by historians, namely folklore and socio-economic development. Overall, we would like to see the Renaissance mine and its paperwork as a concrete example of Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s laboratory, and how objects appear and disappear, or perhaps, move from being merely ordinary to epistemic. Another larger outlook of this project is environmental. Paracelsus already endowed subterranean things with an enduring, palingenetic power which was then developed within an experimental framework; both James Delbourgo and Philippa Hellawell argued for a substantial yet persuasive extension of the domain of mining to include seascapes and submarine knowledge.

Given all this, and without pretenses to limit the analysis only to these points, we propose that:

  • the morphing of sites of extraction into sites of connectivity is potentially problematic; likewise, it is difficult to constraint the sheer variety of actors and agencies at a mine into the concept of a “trading zone” in which not everyone was “trading” (e.g. some were ‘accounting for’, others ‘enslaved to’, and so on). Could we improve on our metaphorical usage? In this regard, Renée Raphael’s 2019 essay in RS offers a valuable model of how the current ‘practical’ view of the trading zone hides a heavy reliance on textual learning.
  • there is a relation between cartographic curiosity and mining that still awaits to be fully explored, and this means dealing with maps, sections, landscapes, and representations of specimens. For example, we couldn’t find any reference in English-speaking scholarship to the Delineatio Wielicensis of 1645, that is, the map of the massive salt mine of Wieliczka, outside Cracow, in the context of the Polish scientific book of the seventeenth-century. How do we assess mining with regard to visual representation in earth sciences histories? Could we profitably turn to the tradition of geodesy and its instruments? And does the cartographic imagination link mining to topography, territoriality, and the military arts?
  • as a corollary to the last point, and because of our typical reliance on tacit or vernacular learning within an interdisciplinary-oriented history of knowledge, issues of mobility and redeployment have completely overwhelmed the traditional framework of geology, seen as the birth of a “new” science. Yet, there is still a lot to be gained from the longue durée of fifteenth-century artisanal humanism, as Ivano Dal Prete has stressed. We simply suggest that we need better studies of how mining relates to epistemic images of “deep time;” and to remind ourselves that even rocks and fossils were aligned to anatomical exercises.
  • so far, almost the entirety of our case studies came from the German-speaking world, which, in point of fact, has become synonymous with research on Renaissance mining. There is, however, an untapped wealth of materials pertaining to Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland-Lithuania, and the colonial Iberian experience. How would the ensuing picture differ? And how did the historical actors consider these lesser-studied mining towns as a built environment? Did an enviro-technical site function more like a networked object?

The deadline is July 15, 2020; notification of acceptance will come within 15 days after that date. To apply please: 1) submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, describing your proposal, and a 150-word narrative CV, which would serve as a basis for introducing you; 2) explicitly confirm proof of, or plan to obtain, a RSA membership; and 3) send all this as a single attachment to both organizers, at and

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Artillery  Classical Tradition  Humanism  Legal and Political Thought  Material Culture  Materiality  Medicine and Science  Philosophy  Renaissance Architecture 

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Doubting Women: Women as Agents of Doubt in Early Modern Europe

Posted By Marco Faini, Wednesday, June 17, 2020

This panel aims to explore the role of women in fostering and disseminating doubts in early modern Europe. Doubt in Renaissance Europe was a flexible tool, employed to question official narratives, voice one’s ideas without openly stating them, to propose alternative versions of given facts, to promote dialogue, and to foster irenic ideals. Doubt could also be a means to shape one’s self in contrast with social roles and rules. In religious matters, doubt could become an instrument of self-defense against the delusions of the devil or against the temptation to believe oneself the recipient of special supernatural gifts. Women were traditionally considered prone to doubt and scruples. But what happened when women actively embraced doubt as an intellectual practice? This panel explores female figures – either real or fictional – who voiced, or even symbolically embodied, doubt(s) in a variety of fields, among which:

  • Religion
  • Social relations
  • Gender relations
  • Science and philosophy
  • Literature and art

Your proposal should include a title, a 150-word abstract, key-words (up to five), a one-paragraph CV (in prose, max. 300 words; please specify your PhD completion date, past or expected), and an indication of whether you have any audio / visual needs.

Please submit your proposal as well as any inquiries to Dr Marco Faini: by August 1 2020.

Tags:  history  literature  Medicine and Science  Visual Studies  Women and Gender 

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Architecture for the Common Good

Posted By Elizabeth M. Merrill, Thursday, June 11, 2020

During the recent health crisis, individuals across the globe have yielded to the intrusive politics of public authorities in the attempt to secure public health. Governing bodies highly controlled the movement and activities of their citizens, instructing them to stay at home, preventing them from meeting with friends and family members, sitting in parks, shopping and eating in restaurants. These intrusions on private liberties – and the questions they provoked from individuals as to accept them or not – brought back a central theme of political theory: that of the common good.

Since antiquity, the idea of the common good has problematized the shared political and social goal of communal well-being, which might or might not be in conflict with private interests. How to obtain this common good, in relation to private interests, recurs as an important question throughout the history of political theory. In these discussions, architectural patronage and design appear as important contributing factors in the obtainment of the common good. Architecture, urban planning and infrastructure development also incorporate innumerable tensions that exist between public and private interests.

This session invites papers that explore the “Architecture for the Common Good” in the Renaissance. Papers might focus on a primary-source text, examining the contribution of architecture to the public good. They might also present an architectural, urban or infrastructural project that hopes to contribute to the well-being of the community. Papers that specifically address the tensions that existed between public and private interests and that might have informed architectural patronage or design are likewise welcome.   

Please send proposals by 1 August 2020 via email with the subject line “RSA 2021” to Nele De Raedt ( and Elizabeth Merrill at ( The proposal should include a title (15 words max.); an abstract (200 words max.); and a one-paragraph CV (in prose, 200 words max.). Provide also full name, current affiliation, and email address.

This session is sponsored by the European Architectural Histories Network.

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Associate Organizations  Classical Tradition  Italian Renaissance Art  Medicine and Science  Visual Studies 

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Magical Materials

Posted By Rebekah T. Compton, Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Magical Materials

Dublin, Ireland, April 7-10, 2021

The theory of natural or astral magic is based on the belief that God emanates powers through the spheres of the planets and the fixed stars, down to earth, and into its matter. In Marsilio Ficino’s Three Books on Life and in the Picatrix, the word virtue—a term derived from the Latin word vis or power—is employed to describe the investment of celestial agency into terrestrial matter. This session seeks to examine the occult or secret virtues believed to be contained within materials and the use of these materials in image-based, natural, astral, and theurgic forms of magic.

A material's spiritual potency could be enhanced through the use of inscriptions, symbols, rituals, suffumigations, and/or prayers. Moreover, illicit materials—including human body parts and fluids— could be wielded for maleficent forms of sorcery. This panel invites papers addressing magical materials in the early modern period. Topics might include celestial likenesses and talismans; petitions for love, fertility, or childbirth; perfumes and pharmacology; ritual performances; representations of magical practices; sympathetic resonances and the soul's ascent; or the writings of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Marsilio Ficino, the Picatrix, Hermes Trismegistus, or Iamblichus.

Please send a paper title, abstract (150 words max), a short CV, and A/V requirements to the session organizer Rebekah Compton at All presenters must register for the Annual Renaissance Society of America Meeting. The deadline for submission of materials to this panel is July 29, 2020.

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  English Literature  Italian Literature  Italian Renaissance Art  Medicine and Science  Neo-Latin Literature  Philosophy  Women and Gender 

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