May 15, 2014: Annual GEMS Lecture with Prof. Kathy Eden

On May 15 Professor Kathy Eden (Columbia University) will hold the sixth GEMS Lecture, entitled “Montaigne’s Acclaim”.
The lecture will start at 5 pm. Details about the location will follow shortly.

Kathy Eden specializes in renaissance humanism, history of rhetoric, hermeneutics, ancient literary theory, and history of classical scholarship. Eden studies the history of rhetorical and poetic theory in antiquity, including late antiquity, and the Renaissance, within the larger context of intellectual history and with an emphasis on the problems of reception. Her books include Poetic and Legal Fiction in The Aristotelian Tradition (1986), Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition: Chapters in the Ancient Legacy and its Humanist Reception (1997), and Friends Hold All Things in Common: Tradition, Intellectual Property and the ‘Adages’ of Erasmus (2001). In her latest book, Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy (2012) she explores the way ancient epistolary theory and practice were understood and imitated in the European Renaissance. Eden draws chiefly upon Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca – but also upon Plato, Demetrius, Quintilian, and many others – to show how the classical genre of the “familiar” letter emerged centuries later in the intimate styles of Petrarch, Erasmus, and Montaigne.

Everyone is invited to attend Professor Eden’s lecture. Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to Britt Grootes.

Search for Bibliography Contributors

The International Bibliography of Humanism and the Renaissance (IBHR) is an international reference bibliography of academic publications covering the early modern period. The IBHR, which was formerly published by the Librairie Droz as Bibliographie Internationale de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance, has recently been acquired by Brepols Publishers.

The IBHR editors, in an effort to extend the publication coverage in the bibliography, are currently seeking scholars to join the team of freelance contributors. Contributors are required to index monographs, journal and/or miscellany articles following a standard citation format and assign appropriate keywords using the IBHR online input platform. Contributors will be remunerated according to the number of complete items submitted.

Selection criteria:

•- Access to a research library with strong holdings in 16th and 17thc. European history.

•-  Master’s degree or PhD in Early Modern European History or a related subject.

•- Fluency in English, French, German, Spanish, or Italian. Passive knowledge of other European languages will be considered an asset.

•- Ability and commitment to deliver one hundred citations each year, or more.

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, Brepols would like to hear from you. Enquiries should be made to Chris VandenBorre, Publishing Manager (

March 14, 2014: Research Day on the Practice of Science in the Early Modern Low Countries

400506380On Friday 14 March, the Flemish-Dutch association for early modern history (Vlaams-Nederlandse Vereniging voor Nieuwe Geschiedenis) will hold its yearly research day at Ghent University on the theme “the practice of science in the early modern Low Countries”. Speakers include Rina Knoeff, Marieke Hendriksen and Ruben Verwaal (University of Groningen), Steven Vanden Broecke (Ghent University/GEMS), Charles Wolfe (Ghent University) and Vincent Van Roy (University of Antwerp). More information (in Dutch) can be found here.

GEMS @ RSA New York 2014

Logo RSAFrom 27-29 March, the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) will hold its sixtieth annual meeting in New York City. With over 4000 members, the RSA is the largest academic association in the world devoted to the study of the Renaissance period (1300-1650). GEMS will be well-represented at RSA New York with four of its members presenting papers: Anne-Laure Van Bruaene (history) will be speaking on local histories, living memory, and the Dutch Revolt, Maarten Delbeke (architecture) on shrines for miracle-working statues of the Virgin, Koenraad Jonckheere (art history) on the Divine Body in an age of Iconoclasm and Samuel Mareel (literary studies) on representations of the Eucharist in the early modern Low Countries. More details can be found in the online program of the conference.

GEM: The News with Alain de Botton

Ask any researcher who deals with both historical and theoretical research and you may get the same answer: not every crowd in academia is as easily taken in by the success and value of such a hybrid approach. Some mild persuasion might be in order. Not that we mind.

Fortunately, the researcher does not stand alone in this matter. Alain de Botton has recently launched a paper which tries to combine news items with philosophical meanderings. The news is not simply covered, but it is put next to questions such as why this particular item seems so important to us. Not convinced? Find it out for yourself at The Philosophers’ Mail website.


DujardinOn 13, 14 and 15 February GEMS will organize the international workshop ‘Battlefield Emotions 1550-1850′. This workshop explores changes in emotional culture related to the early modern battlefield. Battlefield Emotions are considered as the emotions of the individual in the face of violence and death as they are expressed and represented in text and image, songs and gestures, rituals and objects. There will be sessions about ‘Pre-modern passions’, ‘Civic and military emotional regimes’, ‘ Soldiers writings, long term changes’, ‘Epic war narratives’ and ‘Emotions in military psychology’. Please visit the workshop website for more information.

GEM: in the margins

ABO_LutherA few weeks ago Annotated Books Online added a fascinating item on its website: a translation by Erasmus of the New Testament with some serious fighting in the margins. “Du bist nicht from”; “Stirb, Bestie, vide nequam!”; Was darffs solchs gewessch? are some of the attacking notes that Maarten Luther added to the text. After Luther’s death the theologian Regnerus Praedinius wrote his annotations in the margins, frequently shouting back at Luther in defence of Erasmus.

See Annotated Books Online for many more interesting books that contain all sort of comments by early-modern readers: a Vitruvius with annotations by Scaliger, Gabriel Harvey’s notes in editions of Livy and Machiavelli, annotated editions of Plutarch, Boccacio, Ovid, Vondel, Virgil, Homer, Newton, and so on… Annotated Books Online gives full open access to these unique copies. The website enables users to examine the annotations, to transcribe them, and to discuss them with other users. If you have a suggestion for an annotated book (from the first three centuries of print), please contact Annotated Books Online or GEMS (who is partner of the project).

GEM: Early Modern Slavery and Gillian Weiss’s Captives and Corsairs.

1st February marks the start of Black History Month in the USA, a month of events celebrating the history and diversity of African- American experience. Coinciding with this is the cinema release of 12 Years a Slave (Director: Steve McQueen), based on the 19th-century biography of a free black man, who was kidnapped and forced into slavery.


While the predominant focus within European studies of early modern slavery has been on trans-Atlantic interactions, in many parts of continental and northern Europe the demand for slaves was supplied by Mediterranean countries. Mediterranean captives from warring and corsairing activities were channelled through slave markets, such as that in Malta, to the courts of central and northern Europe.

In 2013 archaeologists discovered the 17th-century burial ground of ‘Turks’ – Ottoman and Barbary slaves – adding material evidence to the debate surrounding Malta’s past role in slavery. Early modern Malta was ruled by the Knights of St John of Jerusalem; a religious order with estates and connections all over Western Europe that facilitated the trade of slaves.

Burial ground discovered in Marsa, Malta.

Burial ground discovered in Marsa, Malta.

Many Christians were taken captive by Ottoman and Barbary corsairs. It is within this context of reciprocal enslavement that Gillian Weiss explores the ways in which the roles of French slaves, their liberation, and the tensions between East and West contributed to the construction and development of the modern nation state in France.  In Captives and Corsairs: France and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean, she charts nearly three centuries of interactions between France and North Africa, from the slavery of French in North Africa, to France’s own North African colonies. It represents a study of early modern slavery that transcends colour lines and religious boundaries, but most importantly it highlights the often over-looked role that the Mediterranean region played in early modern Europe.