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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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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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Gardens and Academies in Early Modern Europe

Posted By Denis Ribouillault, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The objective of this session or series of sessions is to explore the place and role of gardens in early modern academies. Although research on academies has expanded considerably in recent decades (Vagenheim et al., 2008), little has been written about the places where they met, including gardens, with the possible exception of the Bosco Parrasio in Rome (Grant, 2018). How did an academy choose its setting and why? How have literary and scientific activities and debates influenced the architectural, artistic and/or horticultural qualities of the chosen venue? In other words, can the iconography of gardens be linked to academic activities?  What role, for example, did the memory of Plato's Academy and Greek academies in general play in the development of early modern gardens (Ribouillault, 2018)? These questions demand that the garden be considered as a place of performance and require a multidisciplinary and intermedial approach. Articles on the use of gardens in scientific academies are particularly welcome.

Katrina Grant, «The Bosco Parrasio as a Site of Pleasure and of Sadness», Histoire culturelle de l'Europe 3 (2018) ; URL :

Denis Ribouillault, « Hortus academicus : les académies de la renaissance et le jardin », in Des jardins et des livres, Michael Jakob (ed.), Geneva: Mètis Press, 2018, p. 23-34 ; URL :

Ginette Vagenheim et al. (eds), Les Académies dans l’Europe humaniste. Idéaux et pratiques, Geneva: Droz, 2008.

Proposals of no more than 300 words with a title and a short bio (300 words max.) should be sent to and before July, 31, 2020. Please indicate « RSA 2021 » in the subject line.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Art and Architecture  Art History  Gardens  History of Science  History of Technology  Humanism  Italian Renaissance Art  Literature  Renaissance Architecture  social history  Villa 

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Geology and the Early Modern Landscape

Posted By Sarah Cantor, Friday, June 19, 2020

This session seeks to explore the early modern perception of geology and its relationship to art. In recent years, scholars have investigated the role of stone as a painting surface and the depiction of rock formations in the works of artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Bellini, but there has been scant attention paid to the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This panel seeks to address this lacunae, particularly as it is during this time period that geology as a subject of study begins to emerge and linked to theories of the formation of the earth and volcanism. We welcome papers addressing the representation of rocky landscapes or on the connection between paintings or prints and texts such as Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus.

Please submit a short (max. 150 word) abstract and CV (max 300 words), along with PhD completion date (past or expected) by July 31, 2020 to the organizers: Thomas Beachdel ( and Sarah Cantor (

Tags:  Art History  History of Science 

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