The Royal Society: Foundations of quantum mechanics and their impact on contemporary society

The Royal Society, London
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
London, SW1Y 5AG

11th December 2017

The dark and light cat images arise respectively due to destructive and 
constructive quantum interference, and are obtained by detecting entangled 
photons that never interacted with the object itself. 

Overview: Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Gerardo Adesso, Dr Rosario Lo Franco and Dr Valentina Parigi.

Revolutionary quantum phenomena like superposition, wave-particle duality, uncertainty principle, entanglement and non-locality are today well-established, albeit continuing debates remain about the profound understanding of their manifestation. Further, these concepts have been enabling a quantum technological revolution. This meeting aims at gathering the most relevant recent advances on the foundations of quantum mechanics, highlighting their multidisciplinary impact on contemporary society.

More information on the speakers and programme will be available soon. Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the meeting has taken place. Meeting papers will be published in a future volume of Philosophical Transactions A.

Attending this event: This meeting is intended for researchers in relevant fields.
Free to attend but places are limited - advanced registration is essential (more information about registration will be available soon).  An optional lunch can be purchased during registration
Enquiries: contact the Scientific Programmes team event organisers
Select an organiser for more information

Professor Gerardo Adesso, University of Nottingham

Dr Rosario Lo Franco, University of Palermo
Dr Valentina Parigi, Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Pierre and Marie Curie University

Schedule of talks

11 December

09:00-12:35  Fundamental aspects of quantum theory

Chair: Dr Valentina Parigi, Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Pierre and Marie Curie University

09:00-09:05 Welcome by the Royal Society and Gerardo Adesso, University of Nottingham

09:05-09:35 Recovering the quantum formalism from physically realist axioms

Professor Philippe Grangier, Insitute d'Optique Palaiseau

We present a heuristic derivation of Born's rule and unitary transforms in Quantum Mechanics, from a simple set of axioms built upon a physical phenomenology of quantisation. This approach naturally leads to the usual quantum formalism, within a new realistic conceptual framework that is discussed in details. Physically, the structure of Quantum Mechanics appears as a result of the interplay between the quantised number of "modalities" accessible to a quantum system, and the continuum of "contexts" that are required to define these modalities. Mathematically, the Hilbert space structure appears as a consequence of a specific "extra-contextuality" of modalities, closely related to the hypothesis of Gleason's theorem, and consistent with its conclusions.

09:35-09:50 Discussion

09:50-10:20 Relational quantum mechanics: understanding with 'relations' versus understanding with 'things' - Professor Carlo Rovelli, Aix-Marseille University

10:20-10:35 Discussion

11:05-11:35 Quantum automata field theory: derivation of mechanics from algorithmic principles - Professor Giacomo Mauro D'Ariano, University of Pavia

This talk will briefly review a recent derivation of quantum theory and free quantum field theory from purely information-theoretical principles, leading to an extended theory made with quantum walks. We will focus on the causality principle for quantum theory, and show that its notion coincides with the usual Einstein’s one in special relativity. It will then see how Lorentz transformations are derived from just our informational principles, without using space-time, kinematics, and mechanics. The Galileo relativity principle is translated to the case of general dynamical systems. The resulting invariance group is a nonlinear version of the Lorentz group (the automata theory is thus a model for the so-called "doubly special relativity"), and the usual linear group is recovered in the small wavevector regime, corresponding to the physical domain experimented so far. The notion of particle is still that of Poincaré invariant. New interesting emerging features arise that have a General-Relativity flavour.

11:35-11:50 Discussion

11:50-12:20 Complementarity and uncertainty: what remains?  - Professor Reinhard F Werner, Leibniz University of Hannover

Complementarity and uncertainty were two ideas in the early development of quantum mechanics. Famously, Bohr and Heisenberg introduced them separately, after they took a break from a series of intense discussions in Copenhagen in 1927. They both worked at a rather heuristic level, and public presentations of their ideas still tend to reflect this early style and the sense of paradox, which the original authors cherished so much.

On the other hand, also in 1927, the theory took mathematical shape at the hands of von Neumann, which made wave particle dualism obsolete, and opened up the possibility of turning the heuristic ideas of Heisenberg and Bohr into general, quantitative and falsifiable statements. For uncertainty this process also began in 1927, when Kennard and Weyl fulfilled Heisenberg's promise that the uncertainty relations could be proved from the basic assumptions of the theory. The disturbance-accuracy tradeoff took much longer, but is today also firmly established.

The role of complementarity changed in a general process of sharpening of interpretation. Today the operational content of quantum mechanics and its statistical framework is very clear. It can be applied and taught with confidence without taking recourse to Bohr's elaborate complementary doublethink. Yet the old idea still has an important if somewhat demystified place. In the talk this place will be pointed out and some continuity with origins established.

12:30-13:30  Lunch

13:30-17:00  Quantum nature of the Universe

Chairs Dr Rosario Lo Franco, University of Palermo

13:30-14:00 Decoherence and the quantum theory of the classical - Professor Wojciech H Zurek, Los Alamos National Laboratory

This talk will describe three insights into the transition from quantum to classical. It will start with (i) a minimalist (decoherence-free) derivation of preferred states. Such pointer states define events (e.g., measurement outcomes) without appealing to Born's rule. Probabilities and (ii) Born’s rule can be then derived from the symmetries of entangled quantum states. With probabilities at hand one can analyze information flows from the system to the environment in course of decoherence. They explain how (iii) robust “classical reality” arises from the quantum substrate by accounting for objective existence of pointer states of quantum systems through redundancy of their records in the environment. Taken together, and in the right order, these three advances elucidate quantum origins of the classical.

14:00-14:15 Discussion

14:15-14:45 The quantum nature of time and the origin of dynamics - Associate Professor Joan Vaccaro, Griffith University

Dynamics is incorporated in physical theories through conservation laws and equations of motion. It is conventionally assumed to be an elemental part of nature – as existing without question. If, however, conservation laws and equations of motion were found to be due to a deeper cause, our understanding of time would need to be revised at a fundamental level. This talk will show how the violation of time reversal symmetry (T violation) of the kind observed in K and B meson decay might be such a cause. It will use a new quantum theory that treats time and space equally. If there is no T violation, the theory allows a material object to be localised in both space and time, i.e. the object would exist only in a small region of space and in a small interval of time. As the object would not exist before or after the time interval, there is no equation of motion and no conservation laws. The elementary assumption of dynamics is clearly absent here. However, the same formalism is dramatically different when T violation is present: the T violation makes it impossible for the object to be localized at any one time. Moreover, the object follows an equation of motion and conservation laws are obeyed. As such, dynamics emerges in the new theory as a consequence of T violation. This talk will discuss how local variations in T violation might be used to test predictions of the new theory.

14:45-15:00 Discussion

15:30-16:00 Dealing with indistinguishable particles and their entanglement - Professor Giuseppe Compagno, University of Palermo

In quantum mechanics, a complete set of commuting observables is the only requirement to determine the state of a quantum system. An exception to this rule holds for systems of indistinguishable identical particles where non-observable quantities (labels), that render the particles distinguishable, are introduced from the start: a procedure needing restrictions on the admissible states and observables to avoid the direct physical manifestation of the labels.

Yet when quantum correlations, in particular entanglement, among identical particles are taken into consideration, labels give rise to a spurious part of correlations. Distinguishing the latter from the real part of entanglement, which is the very resource for quantum information processing, has remained debated, notwithstanding the fact that systems employed for quantum technologies typically involve identical particles as elementary building blocks. In addition, notions ordinarily used to analyse entanglement for non-identical particles are not applicable to identical particles.

This talk will discuss a novel approach to describe identical particles in quantum mechanics where non-observable quantities are never introduced. It will show that its advantage, besides the methodological aspects, lies in the capacity of only dealing with physical entanglement. Moreover, the usual notions, such as partial trace, Schmidt decomposition and von Neumann entropy, are used to measure entanglement for both non-identical and identical particles. Finally, it will prove that this approach makes it emerge the identity of particles as a new source of operational entanglement which is directly utilizable for quantum information tasks.

16:00-16:15 Discussion

16:15-16:45 Thermodynamics as a consequence of information conservation - Professor Andreas Winter, Autonomous University of Barcelona

We formulate thermodynamics as an exclusive consequence of information conservation. The framework can be applied to most general situations, beyond the traditional assumptions in thermodynamics, where systems and thermal-baths could be quantum, of arbitrary sizes and even could posses inter-system correlations. Further, it does not require a priory predetermined temperature associated to a thermal-bath, which does not carry much sense for finite-size cases. Importantly, the thermal-baths and systems are not treated here differently, rather both are considered on equal footing. This leads us to introduce a "temperature"-independent formulation of thermodynamics. We rely on the fact that, for a given amount of information, measured by the von Neumann entropy, any system can be transformed to a state that possesses minimal energy. This state is known as a completely passive state that acquires a Boltzmann-Gibbs canonical form with an intrinsic temperature. We introduce the notions of bound and free energy and use them to quantify heat and work respectively. We explicitly use the information conservation as the fundamental principle of nature, and develop universal notions of equilibrium, heat and work, universal fundamental laws of thermodynamics, and Landauer's principle that connects thermodynamics and information. We demonstrate that the maximum efficiency of a quantum engine with a finite bath is in general different and smaller than that of an ideal Carnot's engine. We introduce a resource theoretic framework for our intrinsic-temperature based thermodynamics, within which we address the problem of work extraction and inter-state transformations.

16:45-17:00 Discussion
12 December

09:00-12:30 Causality, locality and quantum measurements

Chair: Professor Gerardo Adesso, University of Nottingham

09:00-09:30 Causality in a quantum world - Professor Caslav Brukner, University of Vienna, and Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (photo by Fetzer Franklin Fund)

One of the most deeply rooted concepts in science is causality: the idea that events in the present are caused by events in the past and, in turn, act as causes for what happens in the future. If an event A is a cause of an effect B, then B cannot be a cause of A. The possible interplay between quantum theory and general relativity may, however, require superseding such a paradigm. I will review the framework of “process matrices”, which allows describing “superpositions of causal order”, where one cannot say that A is before or after B. The framework reduces to the standard quantum formalism whenever the causal order is fixed. I will show that indefinite causal structures offer advantage in communication and computation, and discuss their realisation in the gravitational field of a massive object in a spatial superposition.

09:30-09:45 Discussion

09:45-10:15 Locality and quantum mechanics - Professor William G Unruh FRS, University of British Columbia

Bells theorem has caused many to argue that quantum mechanics must be a non-local theory. Using a generalisation of a Hardy setup, this talk will argue that Quantum Mechanics is a local theory, but then obviously not a realistic theory.

10:15-10:30 Discussion

11:00-11:30 Operational locality - Dr Lidia del Rio, ETH Zurich

Within a global physical theory, a notion of locality allows us to find and justify information-processing primitives, like non-signalling between distant agents. Here we propose exploring the opposite direction: to take agents as the basic building blocks through which we test a physical theory, and recover operational notions of locality from signalling conditions. First we introduce an operational model for the effective state spaces of individual agents, as well as the range of their actions. We then formulate natural secrecy conditions between agents and identify the aspects of locality relevant for signalling. We discuss the possibility of taking commutation of transformations as a primitive of physical theories, as well as applications to quantum theory and generalised probability frameworks. This "it from bit" approach establishes an operational connection between local action and local observations, and gives a global interpretation to concepts like discarding a subsystem or composing local functions. We relate out approach to other topics of research in machine learning and swarm robotics.

11:30-11:45 Discussion

11:45-12:15 Rebuilding quantum thermodynamics on quantum measurement - Dr Alexia Auffèves, Institut Néel CNRS & Université Grenoble Alpes

Thermodynamics relies on randomness. In classical thermodynamics, the coupling to a thermal bath induces stochastic fluctuations on the system considered: Thermodynamic irreversibility stems from such fluctuations, which also provide the fuel of thermal engines. Quantum theory has revealed the existence of an ultimate source of randomness: Quantum measurement through the well-known measurement postulate. In this talk Dr Auffèves will present recent attempts to rebuild quantum thermodynamics on quantum measurement, from quantum irreversibility to quantum engines extracting work from quantum fluctuations.

12:15-12:30 Discussion
12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-17:00 Quantum information and applications

Chair: Professor Reinhard F Werner, Leibniz University of Hannover

13:30-14:00 What is macroscopic quantum information and can it exist? - Professor Barbara Terhal, Delft University of Technology

This talk will discuss the various limitations of quantum error correction codes and how they restrict the viability of scalable quantum computing. Looking at topological codes, this talk will survey some issues with high- as well as low-dimensional codes and codes based on curved spaces.

14:00-14:15 Discussion

14:15-14:45 Quantum information versus black hole physics - Professor Samuel L Braunstein, University of York

14:45-15:00 Discussion

15:30-16:00 Towards a quantum internet: applications and challenges - Professor Stephanie Wehner, Delft University of Technology

16:00-16:15 Discussion

16:15-16:45 From quantum foundations to applications and back - Professor Nicolas Gisin, University of Geneva

Quantum information science emerged from studies on the foundations of quantum physics. I’ll illustrate this, starting from Bell inequalities and the Ekert protocol for Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), to continuing to Device-Independent Quantum Information Processing (DIQIP). But the story doesn’t stop here. Quantum information science, in turn, feeds back into the foundations, asking questions like, e.g, “how does non-locality manifest in quantum networks” and “how to mitigate the detection loophole for DIQIP”. More broadly, new ways of addressing old questions emerge, for example new ways to tackle the quantum measurement problem and to ask what is “macroscopic quantumness”, both conceptually and experimentally.

This is a beautiful and timely illustration of physics with applied physics and foundations nourishing each other, as it should always be.

16:45-17:00 Panel discussion: future directions

Register Now

Leonardo da Vinci Society: Latin and the Vernacular in Fifteenth-Century Italy

A one-day conference organised by the Leonardo da Vinci Society, to be held at the Warburg Institute, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0AB, 11.00-17.00 on Friday 1 December 2017.

Speakers: Amos Edelheit, Simon Gilson, David Lines, Letizia Panizza, Ben Thomson, David Zagoury

What was the relationship between Latin and the vernacular in fifteenth-century Italy? How was the vernacular able to establish itself as an acceptable language for literary or scholarly writing? Did the process of vernacularization differ across disciplines? Did authors who wrote in Latin and the vernacular write differently, or with different target audiences in mind? This conference will address itself to such questions arising out of the emergence of la volgar linguaas a fitting medium for literary and scholarly endeavours at the end of the fifteenth century.

To register please contact Tony Mann. The registration fee for the conference (which includes lunch, tea and coffee) is £25.

Latin and the Vernacular in Fifteenth-Century Italy


10.30 – 11.00 Registration and welcome


Amos Edelheit, Maynooth University, Ireland: “Two Approaches to Medicine and Philosophy: Nicoletto Vernia and Marsilio Ficino”

David A. Lines, University of Warwick: “Bolognese Culture and the Vernacular in the Fifteenth Century.”

13.00-14.00 - Lunch


Simon Gilson, University of Warwick: “Cristoforo Landino and the Volgare.”

Ben Thomson, Birkbeck, University of London: “Cristoforo Landino’s Allegorisation of Vice in the Disputationes Camaldulenses and Comento sopra la Comedia.”

15.00-15.30 Coffee


David Zagoury, Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome: “Imaginatione: Trajectory of a Vernacular Term circa 1500.”

Letizia Panizza, Emerita, Royal Holloway, University of London: “The Tower of Babel: Linguistic Chaos in Fifteenth-Century Italy”

17.00 Conference ends

London Spinoza Circle: Common Notions and the Origin of Rational Ideas

At the next meeting of the London Spinoza Circle we are very pleased to have Dr Andrea Sangiacomo (University of Groningen) who will speak on Spinoza’s account of common notions and the origin of rational ideas.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th November, 3pm-5pm in the Paul Hirst Room, Department of Politics, Birkbeck College, at 10 Gower Street London WC1E 6HJ,


An everlasting controversy in Spinoza scholarship concerns the origin of rational ideas. Two parties have been opposing each other. According to the empiricist approach, ideas of reason somehow derive from imagination, while innatism holds that they are built upon innate ideas. In this paper, I propose a revised version of the empiricist approach that is capable of fully accounting for Spinoza’s position. I argue that reason and imagination express different ways in which the body interacts with external causes. Imaginative ideas are the mental counterpart of interactions based on some form of disagreement in nature between the human body and external causes, while rational ideas based on common notions are the mental expression of agreement in nature between the human body and external cases. This reading of common notions as an expression of some degree of “agreement in nature” (natura convenire) among things leads to appreciate of the often neglected difference between universal and proper common notions, which in turns enables Spinoza to account for different degrees of generality that rational ideas can have.

All are welcome and no registration is required.

Please put these dates of future meetings in your diary.

January 25th, 2018 – Christopher Thomas (University of Aberdeen)
February 15th, 2018 – Prof Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University)
March 1st, 2018 – Dr Daniel Whistler (Royal Holloway)
March 22nd, 2018 – Dr Alexander Douglas (St Andrews University)

Assistant Professor in Shakespeare, Qatar University

Closing date: Open until filled

Assistant Professor in Shakespeare,
Department of English Literature and Linguistics,
Qatar University.

The Department of English Literature and Linguistics invites applications for an Assistant Professor of English Literature from candidates with specialization in Shakespeare. In addition to teaching introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses, the candidate will be expected to carry out excellent scholarly research, and contribute to the enhancement of the Department, College and University.

Qatar University Profile

Qatar University is the national institution of higher education in Qatar. It provides high quality undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare competent graduates, destined to shape the future of Qatar. The university community has a diverse and committed faculty that teaches and conducts research, which addresses relevant local and regional challenges, advances knowledge, and contributes actively to the needs and aspirations of society.

Qatar University is an intellectual and scholarly community characterized by open discussion, the free exchange of ideas, respectful debate, and a commitment to rigorous inquiry. All members of the University – faculty, staff, and students – are expected to advance the scholarly and social values embodied by the university.

College Profile

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) houses eleven departments, covering a wide range of undergraduate specializations in the Arts and Sciences including English Literature & Linguistics, Arabic Language, Humanities, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, International Affairs, Policy, Planning & Development, Statistics, Chemistry, Mass Communication, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Material Science, and Sports Science. The College also houses five graduate programs in Environmental Sciences, Gulf Studies, Material Science, Statistics, and Arabic Language. Additionally, the College offers a Program of Arabic for Non- Native Speakers. There are also the newly established three research centers for Social Science and Humanities, Sustainable Development, and Gulf Studies.

It is worth mentioning that as members of QU, CAS faculty members have excellent opportunities to secure internal and external funding for their research ideas. Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) is major source of research funding, with individual project funding exceeding 1 million USD (and 5 million exceptional projects) along with programs for student research funding. As the national and largest University in the country, Qatar University is the recipient of most QNRF awards, with many research-active faculty members able to win multiple grants.

Duties & Responsibilities

1. Teach courses in the area of expertise
2. Contribute to various committees at the Program, College, and University level
3. Contribute to the research profile of College through publications
4. Serve as student advisor
5. Other responsibilities as assigned by the Head of Department


1. Ph.D. in the relevant disciplinary area
2. Strong peer reviewed publication record
3. Teaching experience at tertiary level
4. Familiar with educational technologies used in the higher education sector
5. Willingness to work with teams
6. Awareness of working with people from diverse backgrounds
7. Excellent written and oral communication skills

Required Documents

1. Current Curriculum Vitae
2. Statement of Teaching Philosophy
3. Research Plan
4. Contact details of three referees (physical and email addresses as well their telephone contact)
5. Academic transcript of the highest qualification
6. Any additional documentation deemed relevant to the application


1. A three-year renewable contract
2. Salary is commensurate with experience
3. Tax-free salary
4. Furnished accommodation in accordance with QU HR policies
5. Annual round trip air tickets for faculty member and dependents in accordance with QUHR policies
6. Educational allowance for candidate’s children (eligible candidates only) in accordance with QU HR policies
7. Private health care and health insurance in accordance with QU HR policies
8. Annual leave in accordance with QU HR policies
9. End-of-contract indemnity

To apply for this position, please send your curriculum vitae plus all other requested documents to Dr Ross Griffin, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Wellcome Collection: “Finding Lost Science in Early Modern Poetry”

Wellcome Collection, 22 November.

We are hosting an afternoon workshop here at Wellcome Collection on ‘Finding Lost Science in Early Modern Poetry’. The workshop is free to attend and open to all. We would be delighted to see you there! To register, please contact Prof. Gesine Manuwald:

The workshop will be followed by a public event with viewings of early printed books, forming part of the Being Human festival:

Didactic poetry of the early modern period can reveal fascinating insights about what people of the time thought about science and how they expressed these ideas in poetic form. Texts of this literary genre, however, tend to be neglected because they are regarded neither as ‘proper scientific texts’ nor as ‘proper poetry’. This workshop, organised by the Society for Neo-Latin Studies, Wellcome Collection and the Department of Greek & Latin at University College London, aims to bring this type of literature into focus again. Specialists from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will present case studies, looking at a variety of English and Latin texts, and there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion. The day will conclude with a public event as part of the Being Human festival.


12.45–1.00 pm: Registration

1.00–1.15 pm: Welcome and introduction

1.15–2.00 pm: Claire Preston (Queen Mary University of London), ‘The gallery, the eye, and the rhetoric of observation in some 17th-century descriptions’

2.00–2.45 pm: David McOmish (University of Glasgow), ‘Teaching the Scientific Revolution in verse: when poetry ruled the cosmos’

2.45–3.15 pm: Coffee/tea

3.15–4.00 pm: Victoria Moul (King’s College London), ‘Latin poetry and medicine’

4.00–4.15 pm: Closing discussion

4.30–6.00 pm: Public event as part of the Being Human festival

Location: Wellcome Library, Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE.

The workshop and public event are free to attend. To register to attend the workshop, contact Gesine Manuwald. No registration is needed to attend the public event.

Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK

CALL FOR PAPERS: International Conference Splendid Encounters VI: Correspondence and Information Exchange in Diplomacy (1300-1750)

Nova University of Lisbon
28th — 30th September 2017

Splendid Encounters 6 is one of a series of international and interdisciplinary conferences which aim to bring together scholars from the broadest range of perspectives to consider diplomacy and diplomatic activities in the late medieval and early modern period. After successful meetings in Warsaw, Bath, Florence, Budapest and Prague, we wish to invite you to join us for another event, hosted by Nova University of Lisbon.

Collecting and transferring information is a major aim of diplomacy, and one not confined to diplomats strictly speaking. People of different ranks and functions were still connected to diplomatic activity — ambassadors, nuncios, chargés d’affaires, secretaries and agents, members of ambassadorial households, consuls and merchants, and even the aides employed as middlemen or translators.

Just as varied as the agents were the methods used to obtain access to the latest news and information useful to ruler or country. As diplomatic networks grew bigger and bigger in size and reach in this period, so did the need to find reliable sources of news and to develop ways to efficiently deliver them.

These are some of the issues that will be addressed at the upcoming conference, Splendid Encounters VI. The conference will focus on the role of news and information transmitting in diplomatic practices within and outside Europe between the fourteenth and the eighteenth centuries. In assessing the role of diplomats and networks in such exchanges, this edition of Splendid Encounters also breaks away from traditional chronological and geographical approaches.

Please email by 15 March 2017 to your abstract for either 20‒minute individual papers or 90‒minute sessions (to comprisea panel, roundtable, project presentation, etc.).

We especially encourage proposals dealing with:
  • Diplomatic correspondence: evolution, importance, cyphers, etc.
  • Diplomats and diplomacy as a subject of news
  • The languages, forms and performance of (written and oral) communication
  • East–West/North–South encounters
  • Channels of contact; Europe, Africa, Asia, America
  • Diplomatic communication across cultures and the culture(s) of diplomatic communication
  • Practices of information exchange in empire, states, regions
  • The personnel of news networks
  • Continuity and change in the long run: from ‘medieval’ to ‘early modern’

Applicants will be notified of acceptance by 15th April.

Contact for general queries Dr Anna Kalinowska: and for Lisbon arrangements Dr Tiago Viúla de Faria:

Erotema – A Conference on Rhetoric and Literature

Karlstad University, Sweden, 14–16 September 2017

Rhetoric, literature – what’s the difference? For hundreds of years, no one bothered to ask – literature was simply seen as a species of rhetoric. The two subjects were taught as one well into the nineteenth century (as witness text-books like David Williams’s 1850 Composition, Literary and Rhetorical, Simplified), but in response to shifting social demands and artistic practices, the study of literature was gradually separated from the study of rhetoric. For most of the twentieth century they have been seen as contrasting rather than complementary practices, as a rule organized as distinct departments in the academy.

Today, we find ourselves in a situation in which many of the reasons literature emerged as a distinct discipline in the first place no longer seem to apply. Like the humanities in general, literary studies at present face a series of challenges, of an external as well as of an internal nature. Books such as In Defense of a Liberal Education, Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, and The Public Value of the Humanities make strikingly evident that the value of the liberal arts can no longer be taken for granted. Internal challenges meanwhile, include questions of what role literary studies can play in a global economy in which national boundaries no longer seem of principle importance, and distinctions between high and low culture long since have evaporated.

The time thus seems ripe to open the rhetorical question anew. Could rhetoric play a more central role in literary studies than it hitherto has? Do both fields stand something to gain by a closer collaboration? Might such a combination of perspectives even be a means to open up rhetoric and literary studies alike to other disciplines, such as media studies, language studies, art history and pedagogy?

Erotema: A Conference on Rhetoric and Literature proceeds on the assumption that even if questions of the above order to some of us may seem mere rhetorical questions – erotemata – they demand genuine answers. To that end, we invite papers that address old and new ways in which the relations between rhetoric and literature may be further explored.

Proposals of 300-400 words for 20-minute papers dealing with rhetoric and literature in relation to

  • the history of literature and/or rhetoric
  • language studies
  • translation studies
  • historical studies
  • teaching
  • subject specific teaching methodology
  • political theory
  • media theory
  • genre theory
  • gender studies
  • postcolonial studies
  • cultural studies

or any other topic, should be sent to, by January 13, 2017.

We are delighted to present keynotes from:

Roy Eriksen (University of Agder, Norway) is Professor English Renaissance Literature and Culture. He is the author of The Building in the Text. Alberti to Shakespeare and Milton (2001) and the co-editor (with Toril Moi) of Rhetoric Across the Humanities (1999).

Xing Lu (DePaul University, USA) is the author of Rhetoric in Ancient China, Fifth to Third Century B. C. E.: A Comparison with Greek Rhetoric (1998), as well as Rhetoric of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: Impacts on Chinese Thought, Culture, and Communication (2004). Her academic interests include Chinese rhetoric, comparative rhetoric, intercultural/multicultural communication, language and culture, cultural identity, and Asian American communication.

Richard Walsh (University of York, England) is the author of The Rhetoric of Fictionality, which develops a pragmatic rhetorical perspective to articulate a fundamental critique of some basic concepts and assumptions in narratology: the narrator, story and discourse, mimesis, voice, emotional involvement, narrative creativity and fictionality itself. His research has extended to film, graphic narrative, interactive media and music.

Andrzej Warminski (University of California, USA), is professor of English and a specialist in 'literary theory'--with the stress on the word (and the question of the) 'literary'--from Plato to the present. His two most recent books, Material Inscriptions: Rhetorical Reading in Practice and Theory and Ideology, Rhetoric, Aesthetics: For De Man (both 2013), document his interest in the question of reading, of language, and of the rhetorical dimension of language.

Laura Wilder (SUNY), is the author of Rhetorical Strategies and Genre Conventions in Literary Studies: Teaching and Writing in the Disciplines, which underscores the centrality of rhetoric also to the teaching of literature and other academic subjects. Throughout her research, Wilder explores the ways literary scholars, like other disciplinary specialists, tacitly share a distinct set of rhetorical strategies for effective argumentation which support the production of new knowledge, highlighting the often unacknowledged role of these argumentative conventions in the undergraduate literature classroom.

Erotema is organized by KuFo, the culture studies research group at Karlstad University.

Renaissance College: Corpus Christi College, Oxford in Context, c.1450-c.1600

6-9 September 2017

Corpus Christi College, Oxford was founded, on humanistic principles, in 1517. Its fellows included specially-appointed lecturers in Latin literature, Greek and Theology and its new trilingual library featured works in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Throughout the sixteenth century, Corpus was a major centre of learning and religion: it played host to the Spanish humanist, Juan Luis Vives and the German astronomer and mathematician, Nicholas Kratzer; its fellows included the Catholic reformer Reginald Pole and the Protestant thinkers John Jewel and Richard Hooker.

In the College’s 500th anniversary year, we shall be holding a conference to discuss the wider context and implications of this remarkable foundation, exploring the inter-connected worlds of learning and education, prelacy and public service, charity and communal life, religion, literature and the arts, in Oxford and beyond, during a hundred-and-fifty year period of Renaissance and Reformation. 

There will be papers from Susan Brigden, Clive Burgess, Jeremy Catto, Paul Cavill, Alex Gajda, Anthony Grafton, Lucy Kaufman, Nicholas Hardy, Pamela King, Julian Reid, Richard Rex, Miri Rubin, David Rundle, Christopher Stray, Joanna Weinberg, Magnus Williamson, and William Whyte. A round table of Mordechai Feingold, Felicity Heal and Diarmaid MacCulloch, chaired by Keith Thomas, will bring proceedings to a close.

More details will become available over the next few months, but if you would like to make a provisional booking now, please contact; or, for more information about the academic aims and content of the conference,

Performing Restoration Shakespeare: Applications for Summer Workshop at The Globe

The AHRC-funded project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’ (2017-2020) invites applications from UK and EU researchers (including PhD students in their second year or beyond) to participate in a scholar-artist workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe in July 2017. For this collaborative and practice-based event, we seek to recruit 10 researchers drawn from the disciplines of theatre history, musicology and Shakespeare studies. Selected participants will receive accommodation in London for 3 nights, subsistence, and up to £120 for travel expenses.

The selected researchers will work with performing artists (actors, instrumentalists, singers) in a 4-day workshop on Restoration versions of The Tempest, to be held in the Globe’s rehearsal space and in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from 10-13 July 2017. The sessions in the Wanamaker will be open to the public.

Through a combination of archival study and reflective creative practice, we will investigate how Restoration Shakespeare can be performed today in a way that understands the historical context of this distinctive performance genre and then uses that understanding to create meaningful performances for contemporary audiences. This workshop offers a unique opportunity for collaboration with researchers from cognate disciplines, performing artists in theatre and music, Globe staff, and the general public. Additionally, the workshop offers the potential for publication in an edited volume arising from the project as a whole.

‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’ is jointly led by theatre historian Richard Schoch (Queen’s University Belfast) and musicologist Amanda Eubanks Winkler (Syracuse University). Our partners are Shakespeare’s Globe, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

To apply for a place in the workshop, please email a brief CV (2-3 pp) and a 500-word statement of interest to Dr Claude Fretz, Research Fellow (Queen’s University Belfast) by April 1st 2017. In your statement of interest please explain how you would contribute to the workshop and how participating in the workshop would benefit your research. For further information, please contact Dr Claude Fretz. We expect to notify all applicants of the outcome by April 15th 2017.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Reading Conference in Early Modern Studies: Complaints and Grievances, 1500-1750

Early Modern Research Centre, University of Reading
10-11 July 2017

The theme of the 2017 Reading Conference in Early Modern Studies is ‘Complaints and Grievances, 1500-1750’. Proposals for individual papers and panels are invited on research relating to this theme in any area of early modern literature and theatre, history, politics, art, music and culture across Britain, Europe and the wider world. Suggested topics for papers and panels include, although are not confined to:

Literary Complaint:
  • Material cultures of complaint: production, transmission, reception
  • Erotic complaint: narratives of abandonment, grief and loss
  • Early modern women writers and complaint
  • Voicing others: complaint as prosopopoeia
  • Religious complaint: satire and exhortation

Medical Complaints and Grievances:
  • Experiencing or witnessing suffering and pain
  • Learning to live with disease and disability
  • Painful or pain-relieving medical/surgical treatments
  • Sensory aspects of medicine and surgery: sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations
  • Complaints about medical practitioners, nurses, or patients

Political and Religious Complaints and Grievances:
  • Petitioning and pamphleteering
  • From grievances to politics: the personal, the local, and the national
  • The popular and elite politics of complaint
  • Complaint, crime and the law
  • Travellers’ complaints: religion, politics and the lived experience of travel

Each panel proposal (minimum of two and a maximum of four papers) should contain the names of the session chair, the names and affiliations of the speakers and 200 word abstracts of the papers together with email contacts for all participants. A proposal for an individual paper (20 minutes) should consist of a 200 word abstract of the paper with brief details of affiliation and career.

Proposals for either papers or panels should be sent by email by Friday 16 December 2016, with the subject heading ‘2017 Conference’, to the Conference Committee,

The Gorboduc Project: Territory, Politics and Performance

June 22nd-23rd 2017, Northumbria University

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union constitutes the most momentous separation of British-European political culture since the Protestant Reformation, dragging questions of localised political autonomy into the spotlight. Ongoing nationwide movements toward political devolution are transforming notions of political agency in terms of the regional and local. As scholarly and public interest in ideas of British political identity continues to sharpen, this conference explores themes of division and devolution in drama written at the dawn of the British Empire. Looking to Britain’s uncertain future by learning about its past can tell us much about how literature responds to drastic political change, not least in terms of the territories (real and imagined) with which it is invested.

This call for papers seeks to address questions relating to territory and politics at the dawn of the British Empire, and to explore how those questions were unpacked through the medium of dramatic performance. The tumultuous reigns of the Tudors saw English dramaturgy assume a heightened political focus, and notions of local, territorial identity brought into dialogue with perspectives on the nation’s place within an emerging imperial framework. From Norton and Sackville’s Gorboduc to Shakespeare’s history plays, Tudor drama interrogated relationships between civil divisions and international connections in embodied forms – repeatedly shadowing questions of the body politic with semantics of dismemberment, disability, and malfunction. Pre-empting questions of territory and politics that saturate many of our own political debates by over four centuries, these plays use boundaries, bodies and places to question, support, and oppose regional-political authority.

Confirmed plenary speaker: Jessica Winston, Idaho State University.

We invite abstract proposals of 300 words (or less) on topics including, but not limited to Tudor dramatic performances and
  • devolution, rebellion, and insurrection
  • patronage and performance
  • political personations
  • propaganda and regionalised politics
  • borders, boundaries, and political edges
  • politics of translation
  • staging devotional loyalty and/or novelty
  • locations of performance

Please send proposals to Paul Frazer and Harriet Archer by 1st February 2017.

CALL FOR PAPERS: The George Herbert Society Fifth Triennial Conference

George Herbert in Paris: "Bee Covetous, then, of all good which you see in Frenchmen"

May 18-May 21, 2017

Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Helen Wilcox, Bangor University, Wales 
Richard Strier, The University of Chicago

In 1618 George Herbert wrote to his brother Henry, who was in Paris, imploring him to make the best of his time there: "Bee covetous, then, of all good you see in Frenchmen, whether it be in knowledge, or in fashion, or in words; .so shall you play a good marchant by transporting French commodities to your own country."

Meeting in the Latin Quarter, near Saint-Michel and the Panthéon, at the Universities of the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3) and Paris-Sorbonne (Paris 4), our Paris Conference encourages papers that will examine the knowledge, the ideas, the words, and even the fashions that the Herbert family members looked to import from the Paris region or from France, and beyond that to the Herberts, Europe, religion and the arts.

We are seeking proposals on aspects of George Herbert studies, focusing on his poetry or prose. Papers may consider historical, cultural, and discursive contexts for his works, examine rhetorical or lyric strategies afresh, or explore previously unknown or overlooked facets of Herbert's work and his relationship to both people and topics in the seventeenth century. We welcome proposals from both established scholars in the field as well as newcomers to the George Herbert Society and graduate students. Topics of interest will include Herbert's ties to Paris and the European continent, Herbert and the Baroque, Herbert and continental poetry, Herbert and the French Reformation, Herbert and Francophilia/Francophobia, Herbert and language(s), Herbert and translation, Herbert and war, Herbert and the Psalms, Herbert and books, Herbert and music, Herbert and pleasure, Henry Herbert, Edward Herbert and French Philosophy, Edward Herbert and his ambassadorship in France, and more. We also invite proposals for papers on French poets who resonate with George Herbert's style, faith, epistemology, or aesthetics and a panel dedicated to discussing George Herbert's "The Forerunners." Proposals may be in either English or French as we hope to bring out the European dimension of Herbert's sources of inspiration.

This list is not intended to limit the scope of papers, but to suggest directions. We hope to be inclusive.

Abstracts in English or in French of no more than 300 words accompanied by a brief CV should be sent to the conference organizers at Herbert in Paris, by July 15, 2016.

Notifications of acceptance: September 15, 2016. Early submissions are welcome!
Anyone may submit an abstract, but only members of the Society may deliver a paper.
Information regarding accommodation and registration will follow in the fall.

Host Universities in Paris:
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 AND Université Sorbonne / Paris IV

George Herbert Society Organizers:
Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Associate Professor, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3)  
Greg Miller (Millsaps College Professor Emeritus of English)

Local Organizing Committee:
Guillaume Coatalen (Associate Professor, Université Cergy) 
Line Cottegnies (Professor, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3) 
Laurent Curelly (Associate Professor, Université Haute-Alsace) 
Laïla Ghermani (Associate Professor, Université Paris Ouest) 
Denis Lagae-Devoldère (Associate Professor, Université Sorbonne / Paris IV) 
Lynn S. Meskill (Associate Professor, Université Paris-Diderot / Paris 7) 
Marc Porée (Professor, École Normale Supérieure) 
Chantal Schütz (Associate Professor, École Polytechnique)

Scientific Committee:
Sidney Gottlieb (Professor, Sacred Heart University, Editor of the George Herbert Journal) Christopher Hodgkins (Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) 
Simon Jackson (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick) 
Denis Lagae-Devoldère (Associate Professor, Université Sorbonne / Paris IV) 
Greg Miller (Millsaps College Professor Emeritus of English) 
Anne-Marie Miller-Blaise (Associate Professor, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3) 
Gilles Sambras (Associate Professor Université Reims Champagne Ardenne) 
Gisèle Venet (Professeur Émérite, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3) 
Chauncey Wood (Professor Emeritus, McMaster University/Adjunct, Arizona State University)
The Digital Temple                          University of Virginia Press

The George Herbert Society
Department of English
3143 Moore Hall for Humanities
1111 Spring Garden Street
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC 27412 
Office Phone: 336-334-4695
Fax: 336-334-3281
Email Us

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.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Borderlines XXI: Authority in the Medieval and Early Modern World

This conference will be held in University College Cork, 14-16 April 2017. Proposals for both papers and panels are welcomed from postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in the fields of both Medieval and Early Modern studies.

Keynote Speaker: Prof Michael Brown, University of St Andrews

This conference will explore the concept of authority in both the Medieval and Early Modern
periods. As Sir Philip Sidney has said, “there is nothing sooner overthrows a weak head than
opinion by authority, like too strong a liquor for a frail glass” (Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney). Much like today’s society, authority and resistance to authority can be found in all aspects of
Medieval and Early Modern societies, such as the religious, political, social, and literary.

Borderlines XXI invites papers that address the social, historical, literary, religious and cultural significance of these roles. We welcome papers from researchers in the fields of Anthropology, Archaeology, Codicology, Drama, Digital Humanities, Folklore, History, History of Art, Geography, Languages, Literature, Music, Paleography, Philosophy and Theology. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

· Political and/or religious authority
· Literary authority
· Authority of the book
· Gendered authority
· Lack of authority
· Translation of authority
· Class/Societal authority
· Rejection of authority
· Liminal figures/places
· Authority as autonomy
· Structures of authority
· Development of authority through the ages
· Depictions of authority in art

Abstracts of 250 words for a 20-minute paper and a short biography are welcomed from postgraduates and early career researchers (MA, PhD and Postdoctoral students) from Ireland, the UK, and further afield, as are proposals for panels, and should be submitted by Friday 3rd February 2017 to

Medicine, Environment and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean World 1400-1750

Christ’s College, University of Cambridge Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 April 2017

Organized by Valentina Pugliano (Cambridge) and Nükhet Varlik (Rutgers-Newark)

Generously sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and Christ's College, Cambridge

This conference will offer, for the first time, a comprehensive picture of medicine and healing in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East, ca. 1400-1750. While a considerable body of scholarship exists on Islamic and Byzantine science and medicine and their influence on the medieval Latin West, the state of medical theory and practice in the following centuries has been comparatively neglected and often spoken of in terms of intellectual stagnation and decline. The conference aims to challenge this narrative and reveal the continued vitality of knowledge making and transfer across the eastern Mediterranean world. Taking as our focus the politically heterogeneous southern Europe and eastern Mediterranean, the Mamluk Kingdom, and the Ottoman Empire, we will reconstruct the healthscape of this region in the early modern period, exploring its medical unity and disunity and the human and environmental factors that played a part in it.

With an introductory lecture by Professor Peregrine Horden, Royal Holloway University of London.

Full programme here: Medicine Environment and Health in the Eastern Mediterranean World

Please register here:  Eventbrite Regstration

Registration: Full £50 (per day £25); Students £25. Buffet lunch and refreshments included. We can provide support to book overnight accommodation in college for attendees who wish to do so. For any query, please contact Valentina Pugliano

CALL FOR PAPERS: “Translation in Science, Science in Translation”

30-31 March 2017, Justus Liebig University Giessen
Deadline for applications: 31 July 2016

Invited speakers: Dr Doris Bachmann-Medick (Giessen), Dr Maeve Olohan (Manchester), Dr Benedikt Perak (Rijeka)

In recent years, considerable scholarly attention has been drawn to interdisciplinary research between the fields of Translation Studies and History of Science, which has shed light on, for instance, the workings of scientific communities, the dissemination of knowledge across languages and cultures, and the transformation in the process of that knowledge and of the scientific communities involved. Translators are brought to the fore, and if they were once treated as anecdotal actors in scientific exchanges, they are now understood as key agents. The Translation in Science, Science in Translation conference precisely engages in all these questions suggested by the conversation between Translation Studies and History of Science, and understands language as a complex phenomenon that includes dialects, sociolects and disciplinary tongues, and science as encompassing the natural and the social sciences. The focus is from early modernity to the present, and the conference’s translational perspective also applies to movements across disciplines, and to communication between scholars and lays (Montgomery 2000, Elshakry 2013, Olohan 2014).

We particularly welcome proposals from scholars and PhD students working on regions and languages underrepresented in research on the following topics:

1. Scientific Translation over Time and Space
  • Changes in the practice and norms of scientific translation over time, space and across disciplines.
  • The role of translated texts in the appropriation of scientific knowledge.
  • The impact of the language of science upon non-scientific language and everyday language on the language of science through translation (science communication).

2. Behind the Scenes: Actors and Strategies Involved in Scientific Translation
  • Changes in translation policies: the role of scientific translators.
  • The practice of individual and collective translation of scientific texts, spaces and networks of scientific translation (institutions, funding, freedom of research).

3. Scientific Translation as Epistemic Practice
  • Scientific translation and epistemic change.
  • Scientific translation and change within the scientific culture/community of the source text.
  • Translating non-verbal material: images, illustrations, graphs and tables, photographs, etc.
  • Scientific translation and the creation or reinforcement of cultural boundaries (Brisset 2000, Ramakrishnas 2010).

Please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words along with a bio-bibliographical note (as a single PDF-file) by 31 July 2016 to
There are a limited number of grants to cover travel and accommodation expenses. Should you wish to be considered for one of these, please submit a short letter of motivation.


The conference is organized by Katharina Kühn (International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, University of Giessen), Dr Rocío G. Sumillera (Universidad de Granada), and Dr Jan Surman (Herder Institute, Marburg), in collaboration with the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), the Giessen Graduate School for Humanities (GGK), the Giessen Centre for East European Studies (GiZo), the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe – Institute of the Leibniz Association, the Department for Cultural Studies at the University of Rijeka, and the University of Granada.

ReferencesBachmann-Medick, Doris. The Trans/National Study of Culture: A Translational Perspective. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2016.
Brisset, Annie. “The Search for a Native Language: Translation and Cultural Identity,” in The Translation Studies Reader, ed. Lawrence Venuti. London/New York: Routledge, 2000, 343-375.
Elshakry, Marwa. Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860–1950. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Montgomery, Scott L. Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge through Cultures and Time. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Olohan, Maeve. “History of Science and History of Translation: Disciplinary Commensurability?”, The Translator, 20.1 (2014): 9-25.
Ramakrishnas, Shanta. “Translation and the Quest of Identity: Democratization of Knowledge in 19th-Century India”, in Translation and Culture: Indian Perspectives, ed. G. J. V. Prasad. New Delhi: Pencraft, 2010, 19-35.


Dr. Jan Surman
wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Leibniz Graduate School “Geschichte, Wissen, Medien in Ostmitteleuropa”
Herder-Institut für historische Ostmitteleuropaforschung Gisonenweg 5-7, D-35037 Marburg
Email: Jan Surman
Tel.: +49 6421 1754983

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Leibniz Graduate School “History, Knowledge, Media in East Central Europe”
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe Gisonenweg 5-7, D-35037 Marburg
Email: Jan Surman
Tel.: +49 6421 1754983

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Histories of the Morris in Britain

25 - 26 March 2017, Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY

Organised in partnership by The Historical Dance Society with The English Folk Dance and Song Society and The Morris Ring, The Morris Federation, Open Morris.

The focus of the conference is morris dancing in all its forms (including rapper, long sword, molly, and other ceremonial dance) within the British Isles and its history up to recent times. As an enduring feature of British culture across more than six centuries, research in, and understanding, appreciation and practice of, our vernacular dance genre is worth celebrating. We invite contributions from practitioners and scholars to this two-day event to share practice, archival research, oral history and local custom. This may be in the form of papers and talks for 30 minute slots to include discussion time, or workshops of 90 minutes, or posters. We hope to publish selected papers in a volume of proceedings.

Topics: the following suggestions are offered as a guide and further relevant ones will be of interest.
  • Morris within specific historical periods (including 20th century)
  • Morris within specific contexts; English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish; morris on the move; external influences on morris in Britain
  • Histories of morris sides, both national and local
  • Morris and calendar customs
  • Morris as national identity
  • Comparative histories; historical development
  • Morris music and instruments
  • Costume, equipment, and characters
  • Morris in literature, morris on the stage; representation in other art forms
  • Issues: gender, age, teaching, public perception, decline/renaissance
  • Forms: Cotswold, NW Morris, Border Morris, Rapper and Sword, Molly dancing

Please send your proposal (with a 300 word biography), stating whether for a paper, workshop or poster to: Anne Daye or 96, Dover Crescent, Bedford, MK41 8QH by 31st August 2016.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Nomadic Objects: Material Circulations, Appropriations and the Formation of Identities in the Early Modern Period (16th-18th c.)

International Conference – March 2-4, 2017

Musée National de la Renaissance (Écouen), Musée Cognac-Jay (Paris, 3e),
Maison de la Recherche de l’Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris, 5e)

This interdisciplinary conference, organized by the Universities Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris Diderot, Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, and Paris 13, in partnership with two museums of the Paris region, the Musée National de la Renaissance in Écouen and the Musée Cognacq-Jay in Paris, and supported by the Ile-de-France Region, seeks to confront the material history of early modern objects with their artistic and literary representations.

It proposes to look at the various “traces” left by material culture as it circulated and was appropriated. Studying the history of material culture (be it dress and personal accessories, everyday and decorative objects, art works, and technical, scientific, or musical instruments…) sheds light upon the various processes of cultural appropriation, transculturation or hybridization that accompanied such material circulations across Europe or between Europe and the rest of the world. Material objects, whether commodities, tools, devotional objects or works of art, can all be considered as bearers or vehicles of cultural identities. By travelling across space they call into question national, religious and linguistic boundaries. 

The early modern period (1500-1800) corresponds to a period when national identities became more firmly entrenched in Europe with the definition of clearer national territories, languages and religious traditions. The establishment of such boundaries resulted from the development of a new political philosophy, born in part in reaction to Renaissance court culture and its intrinsic nomadism (A. M. Thiesse, La Création des identités nationales, 1999).  Following the trajectories of objects as they crossed these boundaries brings into focus the tension between sedentariness and nomadism that Daniel Roche identified as a key element in the advent of modernity (Humeurs vagabondes, 2003).

In addition to the tight network of material circulations within Europe linked to trade, diplomatic exchanges, aristocratic modes of life or religious exile at a time defined by intense religious and political strife, more complex trajectories yet are to be traced. In the context of proto-globalization and of the rise of international trading companies, goods often followed global paths, coming from distant locations and transiting through a number of countries or cultural spaces before reaching their destinations. Because these objects found their way into artistic and literary representations, they also generated in turn less material forms of circulation, posing the question of multi-layered processes of appropriation.

We are seeking proposals that address such processes of circulation and appropriation by looking at the reception of these objects in literature and the arts or at their production and consumption, and the craftsmanship, techniques or practices thereby implied.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
  • Legal and illegal networks for the circulation of objects and goods, whether through trade, smuggling or personal relationships
  • Diplomatic gifts and exchanges
  • Travelling objects in court culture
  • Objects in exile and objects of the exiles
  • The transmission of craftsmanship and technologies and its links to human migrations
  • Decorative, artistic and literary motifs, and their circulations from one country to another
  • The meaning and implications of literary and artistic appropriations of objects
  • Processes of linguistic appropriation and cross-fertilization linked to the circulation of objects
  • The notion of proto-globalization and its economic, social, material, cultural and artistic manifestations

We hope that this conference will bring into play a variety of methodologies and foster a fruitful dialogue between different disciplines (History, Material Culture, History of technologies, Art History, European Languages and Literatures, Anthropology, Archaeology…). Outreach activities, such as workshops and round-tables open to the general public, will also be included in the program. We welcome proposals from established scholars, doctoral students, curators and other professionals working on or with early modern objects. We particularly encourage proposals discussing objects in the collections of the Musée de la Renaissance or the Musée Cognacq-Jay.

300-word proposals, along with a brief CV (1 page maximum), should be sent by September 15, 2016 to the conference organizers at

Faces of the Infinite: Neoplatonism and Poetics at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe

Professor Stefan Sperl, SOAS, University of London
Professor Trevor Dadson FBA, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Yorgos Dedes, SOAS, University of London

Thu 9 Nov 2017 09:30 to Sat 11 Nov 2017 17:00

The first two days of the event will be held at the British Academy and the final day at SOAS. Further details and registration can be found here:

The conference is intended to generate the first comparative overview of the extent to which Neoplatonist philosophy has permeated poetic forms, styles, themes and figurative language as well as poetic theory in seven principal languages of the greater Mediterranean region, from late antiquity to the modern period. Listed in alphabetical order, they are Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Persian, Spanish and Turkish. The findings are intended to result in a major publication which will shed light on the significance of Neoplatonism as a cross-cultural phenomenon which links the literary traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Speakers include:
Professor Walter Andrews, University of Seattle
Professor Leili Anvar, INALCO, Paris
Dr James Binns FBA, University of York
Dr Abigail Brundin, University of Cambridge
Dr Alessandro Cancian, Ismaili Institute, London
Professor Christina D’Ancona, University of Pisa
Dr Neslihan Demirkol, Ankara Social Sciences University
Professor Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Professor Ferial J. Ghazoul, The American University in Cairo
Dr Didem Havlioğlu, Duke University
Dr David Hernández de la Fuente, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid
Professor Mehmet Kalpaklı, Bilkent University, Ankara
Professor Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, University of Maryland
Dr Alexander Matthew Key, Stanford University
Dr Kazuyo Murata, King’s College, London
Professor Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis, Freie Universität Berlin
Professor Terence O’Reilly, University College, Cork
Professor David Ricks, King’s College, London
Professor Claudio Rodríguez Fer, University of Santiago de Compostela
Professor John Roe, University of York
Dr Adena Tanenbaum, Ohio State University
Professor Richard Taylor, Marquette University
Professor Colin Thompson, University of Oxford
Professor Julian Weiss, King’s College, London
Dr Joachim Yeshaya, University of Leuven

Thursday, 9 November 2017

09.00 Registration and refreshments

Session One: From Greek Beginnings to Arabic and Hebrew
To examine the beginnings of Neoplatonist poetics in Greek and its emergence in Arabic and Hebrew
Chairs: Stefan Sperl, SOAS, University of London and Trevor Dadson, Queen Mary, University of London

09.15 Introduction: Background, Scope and Aim of Conference
09.40 Keynote Address
Richard Taylor, Marquette University

10.30 Refreshments
11.00 Are Neoplatonists Neoplatonic in their Poetics? Alexander Matthew Key, Stanford University
11.45 Andalusian Hebrew Poems on the Soul and their Afterlife Adena Tanenbaum, Ohio State University
12.30 Lunch

Session Two: The Ascent of the Soul
To compare and contrast the portrayal of the soul’s ascent in texts of different linguistic and religious provenance
Chair: James Montgomery, University of Cambridge (tbc)

13.30 Neoplatonist Concepts in 13th Century Arabic Mystical Poetry Stefan Sperl, SOAS, University of London
14.15 Neoplatonism in Attar’s Conference of the Birds Leila Anvar, INALCO, Paris
15.00 Refreshments
15.30 Nostro intelletto si profonda tanto. Paradiso, I 8 and its Philosophical Background
Christina d’Ancona, University of Pisa
16.15 The Ascent of the Soul: NeoPlatonic Themes in the Literature of the Golden Age of Spain
Colin Thompson, University of Oxford 17.00 Close of first day
Friday, 10 November 2017
Session Three: from Late Antiquity to Byzantium and the Ottoman World
To illustrate continuity and change in the poetic reception of Platonist concepts in the Eastern Mediterranean from Late Antiquity to Ottoman times
Chair: James Binns, University of York

Johannes NiehoffPanagiotidis, Freie Universität Berlin
Hymn of the Pearl and Chaldaean Oracles: Platonism on the Border between Monism and Dualism, Imperial Centuries and Late Antiquity, Greek and Syriac
09.45 Neoplatonism and Poetics in Late Antique and Byzantine Literature David Hernández de la Fuente, Universidad Nactional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid 
10.30 Refreshments
11.00 ‘A Soul, Splendid by the Glory of God’: Karaite Poems about the Nature of the Soul from the Muslim East and Byzantium Joachim Yeshaya, University of Leuven
11.45 Ottoman Poetry: Where the Neoplatonic Dissolves into an Emotional Script for Life.
Walter Andrews, University of Washington (tbc) 
12.30 Lunch

Session Four: Neoplatonism and Gender Identity in Early Modern Love Lyric
To illustrate and compare relevant examples of 16th century Italian, Spanish and English verse
Chair: tbc

13.30 Neoplatonic Discourse and Ottoman Women Poets: Negotiation, Legitimation and Subversion
Didem Havlioğlu, Duke University
14.15 Beyond the Courts: Neoplatonism in SixteenthCentury Italian Poetic Culture Abigail Brundin, University of Cambridge
15.00 Refreshments
15.30 Italian Neoplatonism and SixteenthCentury English Verse John Roe, University of York
16.15 Negotiating Difference: Neoplatonism and the Discourse of Desire in the Early Modern Spanish Love Lyric Julian Weiss, King’s College, University of London 
17.00 Close of second day
Saturday, 11 November 2017
(Please note that this third day is being held at SOAS and that separate registration is required)

Session Five: Neoplatonist Poetics and Mysticism in Spain and the IndoPersian world
To examine mystical concepts of possible Neoplatonist provenance in the works of major poets writing in Persian and Spanish
Chair: Alessandro Cancian, Ismaili Institute, London
09.00 Poetry and Ishraqi Illuminationism among the Esoteric Zoroastrians of Mughal India
Carl W Ernst, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
09.45 Neoplatonic and Sufi Approaches to Beauty: The Cases of Plotinus and Rūzbihān Baqlī
Kazuyo Murata, King’s College, University of London 
10.30 Refreshments
11.00 The Christian Neoplatonism of Francisco de Aldana in the Carta para Arias Montano
Terence O’Reilly, University College, Cork
11.45 La erótica del infinito: Neoplatonismo, Cábala y Sufismo en la obra de José Ángel Valente
Claudio Rodríguez Fer, University of Santiago de Compostela 
12.30 Lunch

Session Six: Modern Echoes in Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Greek
To illustrate the persistence of Neoplatonic themes in selected examples of modern poetry
Chair: Yorgos Dedes, SOAS, University of London

13.30 Neoplatonist Relics in Modern Persian Poetry Ahmad KarimiHakkak, University of Maryland
14.15 The New Image of the Beloved in the Old Mirror: Reflections of Neoplatonic Tradition in Modern Turkish Poetry
Mehmet Kalpaklı & Neslihan Demirkol, Bilkent University Istanbul and Ankara Social University
15.00 Refreshments
15.30 Neoplatonist Echoes in Modern Arabic Poetry: The Case of Ahmad Matar Feryal Ghazoul, The American University in Cairo
16.15 NeoPlatonists in Modern Greek Poetry David Ricks, King’s College, University of London
17.00 Conclusion and Summing Up
Stefan Sperl, SOAS, University of London, Trevor Dadson FBA, Queen Mary

University of London and Yorgos Dedes, SOAS, University of London 
For further information and details of how to book please click on 'Book event'. A third day of the conference will be hosted by SOAS on Saturday, 11 November 2017 at SOAS. Please click here for further information.

Dr Abigail Brundin
Reader in Early Modern Literature and Culture
Department of Italian
University of Cambridge
Direct Line: +44 (0)1223 338305