The Relation of Literature and Learning to Social Hierarchy in Early Modern Europe

The following sessions will be held at 2.00p.m. (ending by 3.30p.m.) in Hilary Term 2015 in All Souls College, Oxford (except for the first two sessions -- their time and location are different). There will normally be two papers per session.

All very welcome. Convenor: Neil Kenny []

21 January (Colin Matthews Room, History Faculty)Conversation avec ROBERT DESCIMON (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris): L’hiérarchie sociale en France sous l’Ancien Régime
Session to be held in French, at 12.30pm, ending by 1.55pm. Sandwiches will be provided free of charge on a first come first served basis for all attending.

22 January (Maison Française, Norham Road)ROBERT DESCIMON (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris): Les incertitudes des structures hiérarchiques de la société française et le statut des “écrivains” au 16e siècle
Session to be held jointly with the Early Modern French Seminar, in French, at 5.15pm

28 January (Wharton Room, All Souls)WARREN BOUTCHER (Queen Mary, University of London): Sixteenth-Century Vernacular Renaissances and Social Hierarchies
ROBERT BLACK (University of Leeds): Languages and Society in Renaissance Florence

9 February (Old Library, All Souls)COLIN BURROW (All Souls College, Oxford): Poetry and Social Status in Early Modern England
TIM CHESTERS (University of Cambridge): Stealth Tax in a Love Poem by Étienne de La Boétie

25 February (Wharton Room, All Souls)ABIGAIL BRUNDIN (University of Cambridge): “Prayerful reading”: Hierarchies of Devotional Reading in the Early Modern Catholic Home
MARTIN McLAUGHLIN (Magdalen College, Oxford): Alberti’s Humanism: The Family, Cobblers and Renaissance Men

11 March (Wharton Room, All Souls)GIORA STERNBERG (Hertford College, Oxford): Writing Social Hierarchy: Ceremonial Records in Early Modern France
MARK GREENGRASS (University of Sheffield): Antoine de Laval’s Dessein des professions nobles (1605) and the Taxonomy of Élites

History of Pre-Modern Medicine: ‘Gardens of Improvement: Scientific, agricultural and botanical landscapes created by British medical practitioners in the late Georgian period’

History of Pre-Modern Medicine with Dr Clare Hickman (KCL), Tuesday 19th January

Abstract: This paper will explore how gardens were designed and used by medical practitioners as places for scientific experimentation, botanical education and agricultural improvements during the late eighteenth-century. Beginning with the rural retreat of John Coakley Lettsom at Grove Hill where he combined agricultural interests, particularly the cultivation of the mangle-wurzel root vegetable, with an ornamental landscape, it will also consider the private gardens of John Hunter and Edward Jenner. These examples will be employed to consider how their owners’ personal interests were manifested in their physical use of designed landscapes. Such private gardens were part of a wider network of botanical and agricultural landscapes, which included the seats of the landed gentry as well as more public botanic gardens. Plants and ideas moved between these spaces so other relevant gardens will also be considered. There was a renewed interest in botanic gardens at this time and those under consideration include William Curtis’ London Botanic Garden which was funded through subscription, the Edinburgh Botanic Garden established by John Hope and used to train medical students, and the botanic garden at Glasnevin in Dublin which initially operated under the wider purpose of botanical education for the labouring classes. By investigating these spaces I hope to explore aspects of botanical networks, the role of the garden as scientific space, and the function of gardens for knowledge production and dissemination.

This research forms part of my wider Wellcome Medical History & Humanities Fellowship exploring the ‘Garden as a Laboratory’.
Our location will be the Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE.
Doors open at 6pm and we'll start the seminar at 6.15pm. 

More info on the History of Pre-Modern Medicine series:

Ross MacFarlane
Research Engagement Officer
Wellcome Library
Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

T +44 (0)20 7611 7340
F +44 (0)20 7611 8369
We are a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.
The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 210183. Its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a company registered in England and Wales, no. 2711000 (whose registered office is at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK).

CALL FOR PAPERS: Grace in literatures in English

19 June 2015

This one day conference organised by the English Department at Queen Mary University of London ( aims to address grace in literatures in English across periods and genres.

Grace has been an influential and contested term in literary studies. More loaded than elegance or charm, grace has been idealised, rejected, appropriated, and misused. Grace, as it relates to literary production and interpretation, can be both a quality and a function of the text—it can be bestowed upon the writer or reader, or it can be inherent in the text. At a time when there is increasing pressure in the discipline of literary studies to measure itself in quantitative terms, this conference asks whether grace (as a quality or effect of writing and reading) can frame a defence of the study of literature. Or is grace as a value limiting, anachronistic, or irrelevant in a postmodern, secular world?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
  • Different meanings of grace (ethical, aesthetic, stylistic, theological) 
  • Changing concepts of grace over time 
  • Grace as an ideal in literature 
  • Grace and artistic inspiration 
  • (Mis)use of grace as a means for exclusion or control, for instance in a colonial or postcolonial context
  • Grace as inherent or learned and performed, given and received or earned and acquired 

As a prelude to a series of talks and workshops at the University of Oxford, culminating in an interdisciplinary conference and publication on grace in all its cultural manifestations (Summer 2016), we are offering an exploration of grace in literatures in English.

Dr Susan Jones, the convener of these projects, will be giving a keynote address.

Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted to and by 30 January 2015.

Organising Committee: Alexandra Effe, Lotte Fikkers, Lucy Gwynn, Melissa Schuh, Andrea Thorpe, Lottie Whalen, and James Williams