Early Modern Circle 2014

Juliet's balcony
Juliet's balcony, Verona

17 March

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Laura Kounine (Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin)

Emotions on Trial: Reading for Emotions in 17th-century German Witch-trials

Witchcraft, at its most fundamental, involves wishing harm to others. It thus centrally concerns the impact of emotional states on physical ones. In a court of law, given that physical evidence of witchcraft was highly ambiguous, interrogators, accusers and witnesses had to search for other signs to demonstrate the guilt of the accused. What was their comportment on trial like and what did their physical features and reactions reveal about their emotional states? How was someone’s physical and mental states utilised in the courtroom as ‘proof’ of their supposed transgressions? And how, during the peak and in the heartland of the witch-craze, was someone able to resist this charge? This paper seeks to explore what a history of emotions of early modern European witch-trials could look like. Through an examination of case studies of witch-trial narratives in the Lutheran duchy of Württemberg in southwestern Germany, this paper will examine how and what kind of emotions were articulated, and how they were valued and judged, in the process of being on trial.

Laura Kounine is currently visiting Melbourne and Australia as an Early Career International Research Fellow at Center of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

14 April

Old Arts Room 205 - E Seminar Room

Dr Massimo Rospocher, Leeds

Playing to the Crowd: Street Singers, War Reporting and the Manipulation of Emotions in Early Modern Italy

Street singers (cantastorie) were familiar figures on the piazzas of early modern Italian cities, among the most important providers of information and entertainment to urban publics. Experts in drawing in an audience and leaving them begging for more, they exploited the powers of voice and gesture, and of evocative music. From the late fifteenth century they found a new source of earning in their relations with the nascent printing industry, beginning to publish and sell cheap pamphlets of their compositions. On the faultlines between orality and print, between performance and text, singers of tales are key to understanding the fears, anxieties, interests and desires of ordinary people in early modern Italy.

This paper explores how these figures played on the emotions of their audiences to engage them with current events and ultimately to sell their pamphlets. I will analyse the emotive techniques of the cantastorie and consider how their performances were experienced from the point of view of the crowd.

Dr Massimo Rospocher is International Research Visiting Fellow at the Melbourne node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotion.

19 May

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Patricia Pender, University of Newcastle

Early Modern Englishwomen and the Institutions of Authorship: Publication, Collaboration, Translation

This talk will investigate the often-unacknowledged roles that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Englishwomen played in the literary culture of the period by considering the "extra-authorial" activities they undertook as patrons, editors, publishers, collaborators and translators. It will outline the parameters of the new research project Dr Pender is pursuing as the 2013 recipient of the University of Melbourne's S. Ernst Sprott Fellowship. The project aims to expand our understanding of early modern literary authorship by considering agents and forms of literary labour that have previously been deemed marginal to the discipline as a whole. It endeavours to challenge and refine categories of authorship that have been defined in predominantly masculine terms and provide in that process a more complete and historically nuanced account of the emergence of the category of the "author" in early modern England.

Patricia Pender is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Newcastle. She is the author of Early Modern Women’s Writing and the Rhetoric of Modesty published by Palgrave in 2012 and “I’m Buffy and You’re History”: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Contemporary Feminisms” forthcoming with I. B. Tauris in 2014. She has co-edited a special issue of Parergon on Early Modern Women and the Apparatus of Authorship (2012) and has previously published essays on Anne Askew, Mary Sidney and Anne Bradstreet in journals such as Women’s Writing, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and Huntington Library Quarterly. With her colleague Rosalind Smith she coordinates the Early Modern Women’s Research Network (EMWRN) from the University of Newcastle, a three-year Australian Research Council project on the Material Cultures of Early Modern Women’s Writing and has edited an eponymous collection currently in press with Palgrave. In addition to being the S. ErnestSprott Fellow from the University of Melbourne, Trisha is also the Resse Fellow in American Bibliography and the History of the Book at the American Antiquarian Society (2013-2014) and was recently awarded an individual ARC DP grant for her new research project, “Early Modern Women and the Institutions of Authorship”.

4 June

Old Arts - Graduate Seminar Room 1

Dr Lizanne Henderson, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow

Fairies, Angels and the Land of the Dead: Robert Kirk’s Lychnobious People

The relationship between fairies and the dead is long-standing and complex. While at times the resemblances between them can be so close as to be almost indistinguishable, it will not be the intention of this paper to suggest they are one and the same but simply to be aware of, and take into consideration, the interconnectedness of fairy lore with traditions surrounding death and the dead.

Rev Robert Kirk (1644-1692), author of The Secret Common-Wealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies (1691), produced an invaluable corpus of information, and a rare insight into various aspects of seventeenth-century Scottish folk belief, drawn from a range of oral informants, eye-witness accounts, local history and personal experience, supported by biblical and classical sources. It was Kirk’s intention to record ‘evidence’ of fairy belief (and related phenomena such as second sight) in part to uphold and strengthen belief in the existence of angels, the Devil, and the Holy Spirit. His underlying argument was that to disbelieve in fairies is to doubt the very existence of God. Kirk did not perceive a dichotomous relationship between christian doctrine and folk belief, a polarization that had been so rigorously asserted by the reformed church. He maintained that fairy belief was not inconsistent with christianity.

This paper will examine Robert Kirk’s ideas about the soul, supernatural communication, second sight, angels, and the relationship between fairies and the dead.

Dr Lizanne Henderson’s main research interests are the European and African witch-hunts, critical animal studies, slavery and abolition, and the Scottish diaspora in North America, Australasia, Africa and the Caribbean. She is currently working on a project about cultural interactions with and interpretations of Polar Bears and on 18th and 19th century polar explorers an their observations of animals. Her books include (with Edward J. Cowan) Scottish Fairy Belief: A History (2001; (ed.) Fantastical Imaginations: The Supernatural in Scottish History and Culture; (ed.) A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland 1000 to 1600 (2011). She is currently writing Witchcraft and Folk Belief in Enlightenment Scotland (forthcoming Palgrave 2015).

16 June

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Michael Ostling, University of Queensland

Where’re All the Good People Gone? Modes and Motivations of Fairy Vanishing

In seventeenth-century England and Scotland writers as various as Hobbes and Cleland, Milton and Burton reflected on the recent fading of fairy belief. Although they differed one from another in their evaluation of the fairy vanishing, most found its cause in the success of Reformation: where before “Both Elrich elfs and brownies stayed,” they had fled “When old John Knox, and other some / Began to plott the Haggs of Rome.” What Barbara Rieti calls “the perpetual recession of the fairies,” their tendency to have just vanished from the countryside, is best understood as a mode of metacultural reflection, a way of constructing cultural discontinuity. Accordingly, the seventeenth-century celebration of fairy vanishing is less a description (fairies hung around into the twentieth-century or later) than an attributive strategy: declarations that (and why, and how, and wither) the fairies had vanished position writer and reader as educated, rational, and reformed.

Dr Michael Ostling is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for the History of European Discourse at the University of Queensland.

18 August

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Professor Allen Grieco, Villa I Tatti, Harvard

The Taste of Color: Dietary Choices and Medical Knowledge

Doctors - as well as any health conscious consumer of the Renaissance – habitually considered the impact that solid foods and liquids were thought to have on the human body. While some of this information was available in a variety of written and oral sources (dietary treatises, literary texts, recipe books, and so on), individuals could also rely on their own senses to try and understand the characteristics and qualities of what they chose to eat or drink. Two senses in particular were singled out as the ones giving the most trustworthy information: taste and sight. Both the taste system of the Renaissance (derived from Aristotelian parameters) and the food-related color spectrum were integrated into a widely understood frame of reference that was used not only by doctors and consumers for health-related concerns, but also by artists and writers to communicate social and cultural meaning.

Professor Allen J. Grieco is senior research associate at the Villa I Tatti Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. He has published extensively on the cultural history of food in Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries and co-edited several volumes including “Food Excesses and Constraints in Europe” (2006) and “From vine to wine” (in Italian, 1994).

Professor Grieco is currently co editor-in-chief of Food & History (Turnhout, Brepols) and is also in charge of a bibliographic project on the history of food in Europe funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He has taught at Harvard as well as at the University of Florence and Bologna, and has recently created an M.A. program at the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche, Pollenzo (Italy).

15 September

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Diana Hiller, University of Melbourne

Saintly Blood: Presence, Absence and the 'Alter Christus'

In early modern Italy painted mages of saints are conspicuous for the lack of blood in the depictions of their sufferings. An aspect that has rarely been the subject of art historical inquiry, however, is the perhaps surprising observation that a visual iconography conspicuously associated with blood did develop for three specific saints: St Francis, St Peter of Verona and, in certain guises, St Sebastian. In this paper I offer the hypothesis that the different iconography of the three saints lies in their respective conformities to the status of an alter Christus that was expressed through an iconography associated with that most sacred issue of Christ – his blood.

20 October

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Dr Hugh Hudson, University of Melbourne

A New Document for Ghiberti at Santa Maria Novella in Florence: The Confraternity of St Peter Martyr between Convent and Commune

An unpublished reference in a book of the Confraternity of St Peter Martyr in the Archivio di Stato di Firenze shows that Lorenzo Ghiberti was among a group of 27 Florentine citizens who met in early 1414, of whom four were elected captains for the year. This raises a number of questions about confraternal practices in early Renaissance Florence. Did one have to be a member of a confraternity to elect, or be elected as, its captain? How much did the organisation of more convent-supported confraternities differ from more lay, or independent, confraternities? Through reference to published confraternal statutes, as well as unpublished archival records, the paper will take this new Ghiberti document as a point of departure to investigate wider issues relating to the negotiation of lay devotional practices between ecclesiastical and communal authorities in early Renaissance Florence.

17 November

Old Arts Room 209 - Graduate Seminar Room 2

Daniel Russo-Batterham, School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne

Words and Music in the Early Seventeenth Century: The Case of the French Air

Few times in history has the relationship between text and music in song taken as many forms as it did over the course of the sixteenth century. Enchanted by accounts of the power of the music of the ancients, French humanist poets and composers sought to unite text and music through the use of Greek and Latin poetic metres in song; in Italy, a preference for speech rhythms and affective declamation culminated in Monteverdi’s 1607 Orfeo, which features sung speech or recitative; and the many madrigals produced at this time are characterised chiefly by word painting, the musical depiction of individual words. The French air of the early seventeenth century does not directly follow any one of these approaches in its treatment of poetry and music. Rather, allusions to one or several of these or other techniques may appear within a single song, adapted to the prevailing artistic tastes of the French court. Built on the analysis of the approximately 750 French airs that comprise the collection Airs de différents auteurs, mis en tablature de luth (1608–1643), this paper explores the rapprochement of text and music from a variety of perspectives. Quantitative and qualitative analysis reveal that the musical setting of prosody varies greatly across this repertory. Nevertheless, recurrent threads emerge that contribute to a stylistic foundation for the French Opera that was to follow.

Daniel Russo-Batterham graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Music and Diploma of Modern Languages in French in 2009, and then completed a Master of Music (Musicology/Ethnomusicology) in 2012. From 2011 to 2013 he worked as a researcher at the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR) in Tours, France. He is currently in the second year of his PhD at the University of Melbourne, School of Languages and Linguistics, where he works on seventeenth-century lute songs, with a particular focus on the relationship between text and music.