GEMS Plans for the 2022-2023 Academic Year

For the 2022-2023 academic year, GEMS is looking forward to planning both in-person and online events, including lectures, workshops, ateliers, “inspired by…” sessions, and book launches. 

Interested in taking part? If you are a Ph.D. student, postdoc, or visiting junior scholar at UGent or another institution, and are interested in participating, either as an attendee or a presenter, please be in contact with Chris Chan (

If you are an advanced-career researcher and would be interested in sharing your research at UGent, through a lecture, a work-in-progress workshop, or a seminar, please be in contact with Andrew Bricker ( 

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to GEMS in 2022-2023! 


The GEMS Steering Committee

Upcoming GEMS Events

Both GEMS-members and other colleagues with an interest in the early modern period, broadly understood, are invited to join these meetings and to participate in our discussions. 

Academic year 2022-2023

Guest lecture with Prof. Marissa Nicosia (Penn State Abington): “Seasonal Tastes: Timing Recipes in Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies (1653).” 

Location: Camelot Meeting Room (3rd Floor), Blandijnberg 2 

Time: Monday, 14 November 2022, 11am


Upcoming workshop by Geertje Bol: Mary Astell on Love, Friendship and Enmity

On Wednesday 29 March 2023, at Camelot (Blandijnberg 2, 1-2 pm), Geertje Bol (UGent, FWO postdoc) will be giving a workshop on her research in early modern history: “I Love you whom the World calls Enemies”: Mary Astell on Love, Friendship and Enmity.

Abstract: Political friendship is currently undergoing a revival both in contemporary political philosophy as well as in the history of political thought. This in turn has provoked critiques of political friendship. However, these critical voices come primarily from within the male-dominated canon, such as Machiavelli and Hobbes. And yet, we might ask, who were in a better position to critique what has been called the “exclusively male” and elitist language of political friendship than women? For that reason, I turn to the critique of political friendship we find in Mary Astell (1666–1731), the seventeenth-century philosopher and pamphleteer known as “the first English feminist.” Astell, like Aristotle, grounded friendship in virtue, reciprocity and partiality. The point of friendship was to point out one another’s flaws and help one’s friend to improve in virtue and thus attain salvation. Astell argued that such friendship could never take place in the imperfect realm of politics. However, unlike Aristotle and current proponents of “civic friendship,” Astell rejected the notion of a watered-down version of friendship in politics, one devoid of emotion and virtue, but still grounded in reciprocity and good will. She argued that such friends could not fulfil the end of friendship, namely, to improve one’s friend’s virtue. I argue that we should instead see Astell as a proponent of political enmity: after true and virtuous friends, enemies were best at fulfilling the end of friendship. Astell’s critique of political friendship and her appreciation of enmity is especially relevant for contemporary proponents of civic friendship and writers who argue that we should see partisanship as a form of friendship.

“Materiality in the History and Theory of Architecture”: Upcoming Lecture & Workshop

Over the course of the 2022-2023 academic year, the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning is hosting a lecture series on “Materiality in the History and Theory of Architecture.” On 1 March 2023, Fabio Barry will deliver the next lecture “Painting in Stone: Reloaded?” at the VANDENHOVE Centre (17:30-19:00). The following day (2 March, 11:00-13:00), Dr. Barry will lead a workshop that examines the relationship between poetry and early modern architecture (description follows). Lunch will be provided. Please email to register your attendance.  

Workshop: “Monumenting: Poetry and Architecture

“I have raised a monument more lasting than bronze and loftier than any pyramid,” reads Horace’s epilogue to the Odes and his epitaph as a poet. Beyond mere description, to what degree could poetry become an intermedial embodiment of building?

This workshop will examine three buildings in Rome:

a) a medieval tower, the “Casa dei Crescenzi,” with an anonymous poem on mortality inscribed over its doorway (incipit: Non fuit ignarus, 12th century).

b) a semi-imaginary poem about a half-built villa, the Villa Madama (Francesco Sperulo, Villa Iulia Medica versibus fabricata, 1519).

c) a verse description of the building, images, materials, and mosaics of the Cappella Gregoriana in St. Peter’s (Lorenzo Frizolio, Sacellum Gregorianum, 1583)

Readings will be circulated beforehand.

Call for Papers 2024: Controversy

GEMS members might be interested in this call for papers!

The Yearbook for Dutch Book History publishes Dutch and English-language articles on the book history of the Low Countries in all time periods. For the 31st edition of the Yearbook, to be published in 2024, we welcome in particular contributions concerning the theme ‘Controversy’. Scandals, provocations and ethical problems: some are shocked by them, some delight in them, others use them to change the world. Our current society may seem more divided than ever, but is that truly the case? To explore this issue, the editorial board of the Yearbook for Dutch Book History seeks articles on the role of controversy in the book history of the Low Countries. Contributions might study books that caused controversy in the past, or those that do so in our own age, because of their outdated content or illustrations, or even ethical issues concerning anthropodermic book bindings.

We welcome articles focussing on any of the following subject areas:

  • Controversial authors, collectors or publications;
  • Ethical issues in the book trade, publishing industry or the materiality of the book;
  • Books that shocked society and set in motion broader societal changes;
  • The use of satire in text and image;
  • The book and pamphlet as means of protest;
  • Readers’ reactions to controversial books;
  • Disinformation and fake news.

Send your proposal or article summary to the editorial board before 1 March 2023 ( or via one of our editors). The deadline for contributions to the 2024 edition of the Yearbook is 1 November 2023.


GEMS members might be interested in the following lecture series on materiality in the history and theory of architecture.

Remaining lectures:

1 March 2023: Fabio Barry (Warburg Institute, London), Painting in Stone: Reloaded?

+ workshop on 2 March 2023: “Monumenting”: Poetry and Architecture

26 April 2023: Réjean Legault (University of Quebec, Montreal), Brutalism and the Materialities of Postwar Architecture

+ workshop on 27 April: The Idea of Brutalism in Postwar Architecture

To register email:

More info on time and place below:

Call for Papers: The Power of Flowers, 1500-1750

GEMS members might be interested in the following Call for Papers for the conference The Power of Flowers, 1500-1750.

Topic: floral imagery and expressions of power in the early modern world

When and where: Ghent University, 14-16 June 2023

Submissions (due 31 December) or questions? Contact or 

Medieval and Early Modern Studies Spring School 2023: Historical Performance Studies

Groningen (Van Swinderen Huys), 27-31 March 2023

This Spring School is organised by Ghent University (GEMS, Thalia, Doctoral School AHL), University of Groningen, University of Göttingen, the Huizinga Institute and the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies to stimulate contacts and exchange between PhD candidates and ReMa students in the field of literary studies, cultural history, art history, media studies, theatre studies, musicology, history of dance, history of religion, history of science, and early modern and medieval history.


Scholars of the medieval and early modern period encounter the concept of performance in various disciplines. The notion of performativity is no longer limited to the study of traditional theatrical arts but also employed to deepen our understanding of social, political, and religious events and rituals. This Spring School will therefore pay attention to a wide range of performances in history, from political gatherings, religious rituals, and courtroom proceedings to theatre, concerts, and dance. It combines a focus on the medieval and early modern period with an interdisciplinary perspective, attending to the theoretical background of performance studies, its related concepts, and its more practical sides. Moreover, the Spring School will enable speakers and participants to reflect on new methodological approaches, including digital humanities, the intertwinement of arts and science, and research through performance.


The course takes four recent lines of research in the field of historical performance studies and their related concepts as a starting point: rituals & performativity, embodiment & self-fashioning, computational approaches, and cultural techniques. Specialists from various scholarly backgrounds (cultural history, history of knowledge, literary studies, and theatre history) will reflect on how they define and apply the above-mentioned concepts in their own research.

An accompanying reading list will offer the participants a stepping stone to engage in further reflection and discussion. Through short pitches, the attending PhD and Research Master students will reflect on the possibilities and difficulties of working with the concerning concepts in their own research projects. More informal talks about historical performance studies will be possible during a thematic guided walk through Groningen and a workshop on historical acting techniques.


Session I: Walk through Groningen – Guide: Renée Vulto (Utrecht University)

Session II: Rituals and Performativity – Lecturers: Marian Füssel (University of Göttingen) & Rina Knoeff (University of Groningen)

Session III: Embodiment, Performativity & Self-fashioning – Lecturers: Sidia Fiorato (University of Verona) & Catrien Santing (University of Groningen)

Session IV: Digital Humanities and Historical Performance Studies – Lecturer: Erika Kuijpers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Session V: Workshop Digital Humanities – Lecturers: Dinah Wouters (Huygens Institute) & Andrea Peverelli (Huygens Institute)

Session VI: Workshop Historical Acting Techniques – Teacher: Laila Neuman (Leiden University)

Session VII: Imagineering – Lecturers: Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University) & Kornee van der Haven (Ghent University)


PhD students and ReMa students are invited to register for this course through the following link: Registration form [] Please note that there is a limited number of places available for this course. After your registration you will soon receive more information about whether your registration can be confirmed or not. Some of the participating graduate/doctoral schools and research groups will cover tuition and lodging for their participating members (please wait for more information after your registration).

Organising institutions and partners

This Spring School is an initiative of GEMS (Group for Early Modern Studies, Ghent University), Thalia (Ghent University-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Doctoral Schools AHL (Ghent University), University of Göttingen, ICOG (Research Institute for the Study of Culture, University of Groningen), the Huizinga Institute (Netherlands Graduate School for Cultural History, Utrecht University) and the Dutch Research School for Medieval Studies, in close cooperation with, IEMH (Institute for Early Modern History (Ghent University-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Onderzoeksgroep Nieuwe Tijd (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Ruusbroecgenootschap (University of Antwerp), and Research Centre for Visual Poetics (University of Antwerp).

GEMS lecture and conversation with Annemie Leemans (UAntwerpen): “New Methodological Approaches in Leonardo Studies”

Date: Thursday, 8 December 2022, 1-2pm

Location: Vergaderzaal 2.23 Panopticon, Blandijnberg 2

“Popular imagination regards the early modern artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) as one of the most extraordinary human beings who ever lived. Researchers tend to agree and are potentially responsible for this line of thought. An extensive bibliography of 13,000 references has treated a wide variety of different topics and aspects related to Leonardo and his work. In this seminar, I disentangle the myths and propose new research methods regarding Leonardo da Vinci, a topic with a long research tradition.”

Annemie Leemans is an assistant professor at the University of Antwerp and is a Guest Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She is an art historian who studied at the University of Bologna, where she specialized in the early modern history of portraiture, artistic networks and gender studies. She graduated from the Advanced Master in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at KU Leuven, where she worked on the artistic construction of the ideal human body in early modern visual arts. She obtained her joint PhD degree through the Erasmus Mundus degree TEEME (Text and Event in Early Modern Europe), at the University of Porto and the University of Kent, with a thesis on the early modern history of knowledge and book history. Leemans has received several EU-funded scholarships and grants, including a scholarship for the Erasmus Mundus joint PhD degree and the Compete 2020 funding, together with Portugal 2002 and FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e a Technologia) support, which led to the publication of her book, Contextualizing Practical Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (Peter Lang, 2020). Currently, Leemans is devoted to the study of Leonardo da Vinci. She is interested in the histories of medical and anatomical knowledge, healthcare and healthcare crises, privacy, artistic literature and networks, historiography, gender studies, art psychology and artists’ biography.

Guest lecture with Prof. Marissa Nicosia (Penn State Abington): “Seasonal Tastes: Timing Recipes in Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies (1653).” 

Location: Camelot Meeting Room (3rd Floor), Blandijnberg 2 

Time: Monday, 14 November 2022, 11am 

“Reading poetry alongside how-to literature my project Seasonal Tastes explores England’s intertwined literary and recipe cultures to consider flavor time poetics and climate in the early modern period. By taking poetic and practical discussions of the seasons as its central focus this study intervenes in recent debates in literary studies food studies and the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies. This talk will provide an overview of Seasonal Tastes and as a case study consider the temporality of Margaret Cavendish’s recipe poems within the larger context of early modern recipe manuscripts.”

Marissa Nicosia is Associate Professor of Renaissance Literature, in English, at Penn State Abington, and co-editor of Making Milton: Print, Authorship, Afterlives (Oxford University Press, 2021). Her current project is “Historical Futures: Imagining Time in the Early Modern Chronicle Play,” which argues that plays construct speculative futures when they report narratives about the national past. Drawing on the methods of historical formalism and critical bibliography, this study reveals the metaphoric and material ways that chronicle plays participate in debates about temporality and politics in the early modern period.

CfP: Eerste gezamenlijke Jaarcongres van de Werkgroepen Zeventiende Eeuw & Achttiende Eeuw


“Emoties hebben we allemaal en soms is er sprake van een conflict. Dat kan een conflict zijn tussen emoties of conflicten die emoties veroorzaken. In dit eerste gezamenlijke jaarcongres van de Werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw en de Werkgroep Achttiende Eeuw op vrijdag 26 augustus 2022 willen we verkennen hoe mensen individueel of in groep in de vroegmoderne tijd omgingen met emoties, of dat nu conflicterende emoties waren of emoties in conflictsituaties.

Abstracts van circa 300 woorden kunnen worden ingestuurd tot 1 mei 2022 naar het algemene mailadres: Lezingen duren 15 minuten zodat er voldoende tijd overblijft voor discussie. Het is ook mogelijk om een abstract voor een panel in te sturen. Bijdragen zijn bij voorkeur in het Nederlands, maar Engels is ook toegestaan.”