CALL FOR PAPERS: Corruption: Deviation, Degradation, and Malfeasance in the Early Modern Period

Postgraduate Conference 28 April 2017, City Campus, University of Worcester

Plenary Speaker: Professor David Roberts, Birmingham City University

Whether perceived or actual, corruption signifies a failure in norms, order and structure, heightens anxieties concerning personal and institutional conduct, and undermines the ideal of the benevolent, disinterested exercise of power. Originally implying bodily decay, the Early Modern period witnessed the term ‘corruption’ broaden in meaning to incorporate the venality of politics, religion, monarchy, society and culture to reflect a variety of highly contested ideological positions: established religious foundations became threatened through the perceived corruption of the Catholic church and emerging religious factions; concerns about royal lineage became exacerbated by the succession of not one but two unmarried female monarchs; an expanding printing press troubled defenders of high-culture and ‘taste’ as literary standards faced apparent threats from the products of the ‘un-polite’ mass in an increasingly commodified society; and notions of gender, sexuality, and purity underwent an unprecedented refashioning in response to this transforming social, cultural and political environment.

How contemporaries of the early modern period experienced and responded to such notions of corruption is the focus of the first postgraduate conference of Worcester’s Early Modern Research Group. We welcome proposals from postgraduate students and researchers (MA, MRes, early PhD stage) for 20-minute papers that consider literary, religious, political, historical, cultural, and social notions of corruption during the early modern period, c.1550-1800. Relevant themes and topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Editing and pirating, rewriting of texts, adaptations of films or plays 
  • Corruption of genre, form, stage, literary convention 
  • Disease, decay 
  • Corruptive power – moral, legal, political, institutional 
  • Social disorder 
  • Corruption of culture, ethnicity, race or class 
  • Sexual deviation, perversion and the corruption of normative gender models 
  • Corruption of the family unit 
  • Sacred or environmental corruption 
  • Corruption of the transmission of information 

Proposals for individual papers or complete panels should be directed to Kirsty Driscoll and Lucy Cooper at EMRG by 1st March 2017.