GEMS Seminar: Teodoro Katinis inspired by… Robert Klein

Wednesday, December 6th, 2-4 PM, Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room ‘Freddy Mortier’

As Henri Zerner wrote in his introduction to Robert Klein’s collection of essays, “his real province as a scholar was that area where art, literature, and scientific or parascentific discourse meet with philosophy. He, if anyone, was a historian of ideas.”

During this GEMS seminar, Teodoro Katinis will present Robert Klein (1918-67), his work, and his unique approach to the cultural phenomena of the Italian Renaissance and beyond. We will examine Klein’s methodology by reading one of his most inspiring essay, L’imagination comme vêtement de l’âme chez Marsile Ficin et Giordano Bruno, in which he combines in a most original way his analysis of the sources with his own interpretation of the Renaissance.

Discussing some of his research outcomes, Katinis will show how Klein’s research topics and method can be inspiring for scholars from different fields.

For literary scholars, historians, philosophers and scholars interested in the Renaissance culture. For registration, please contact Kornee van der Haven:

The GEMS Seminars provide the opportunity to members of our research group and other scholars with an interest in the early modern period to meet and discuss current research issues. In the schedule on our website ( you will find two categories of these meetings. First there are the Ateliers during which GEMS-members or guests present their research projects, recent publications or ideas for future projects. Who is interested to spotlight his or her current or future research projects during one of these meetings are cordially invited to get in contact with the organization ( Secondly we will have two meetings with specialists of the early modern period who will introduce to you the work of a famous scholar by whom they are inspired in their own scholarly work (Inspired by…). Colleagues with an interest in the early modern period who are not a member of GEMS can join us too (after a short notice to:, because of the limited space in the reservated rooms).


Audio recording of the Atelier with Frans-Willem Korsten (2017-10-20)


On October 20th, Frans-Willem Korsten was invited by GEMS to present his upcoming book, A Dutch Republican Baroque. In an interview by Jürgen Pieters, the author discussed some of the key issues raised in his thought-provoking book, after which the audience was invited to join the discussion. If you click here, you will be redirected to an audio recording of the entire Atelier (1.30h). Around the end, Frans-Willem showed a small fragment of one of Maradona’s famous goals to illustrate his understanding of the concept ‘dramatic moment.’


GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Frans-Willem Korsten (Leiden University)

Friday 20 October, 3-5 PM, 110.028 (Blandijnberg 2, Gent)

During this Atelier, Frans-Willem Korsten will present his new book A Dutch Republican Baroque (Amsterdam UP). After a short introduction about this new publication and how it came into being, the author will be interviewed by Jürgen Pieters, to discuss some of the key issues raised in his thought-provoking book, after which the audience will be invited to join the discussion.

In his book, Frans-Willem Korsten shows how in Baroque forms of art of the Dutch Republic, two aesthetic formal modes, theatre and drama, were dynamically related to two political concepts, event and moment. The Dutch version of the Baroque is characterised by a fascination with this world regarded as one possibility out of a plurality of potential worlds. It is this fascination that explains the coincidence in the Dutch Republic, strange at first sight, of Baroque exuberance, irregularity, paradox, and vertigo with scientific rigor, regularity, mathematical logic, and rational distance. In giving a new historical perspective on the Baroque as a specifically Dutch republican one, this study also offers a new and systematic approach towards the interactions among the notions of theatricality, dramatisation, moment, and event: concepts that are currently at the centre of philosophical and political debates but the modern articulation of which can best be considered in the explorations of history and world in the Dutch Republic.

The GEMS Seminars provide the opportunity to members of our research group and other scholars with an interest in the early modern period to meet and discuss current research issues. In the schedule on our website ( you will find two categories of these meetings. First there are the Ateliers during which GEMS-members or guests present their research projects, recent publications or ideas for future projects. Who is interested to spotlight his or her current or future research projects during one of these meetings are cordially invited to get in contact with the organization ( Secondly we will have two meetings with specialists of the early modern period who will introduce to you the work of a famous scholar by whom they are inspired in their own scholarly work (Inspired by…).

GEMS in portraits: Thomas Van der Goten

Frost Fair portrait of Anne 1716
We close the summer of 2017 with a portrait of Thomas Van der Goten, who recently received his PhD with a thesis on the eighteenth-century English ode. His dissertation offered a revisionist and genre-theoretical study of a large body of odes, providing a nuanced account of the range and variety of the genre, its engagement with literary tradition, and its place in the proliferating market for printed poetry. His interests range from classical as well as early modern and Romantic literature, over lyric poetry, to print culture, material culture, book history, and the history of reading. As a passionate dix-huitiemist, he is currently working on a postdoc application on the poetry of occasions in eighteenth-century Britain. GEMS wishes him the best of luck!

How did your interest for your research arise?

I have always been fascinated by the intersections between the various social, cultural, political, religious, and material contexts in which the written (or spoken) word was embedded in the early modern period. I would say that most of my research is a reflection of that interest, but part of it is also motivated in response to what I think is a somewhat misguided conception of how ‘literature’ functioned prior to the Romantic movement. I am constantly drawn to the unwritten histories of what people in the early modern period read and wrote, the medially and modally experimental as well as the hugely popular forms of literary practice–all manner of things generally ignored by scholars in the past. That is why I think text-image hybrids, in verse or prose, produced on the occasion of festivals, fairs, and other popular events, can be as revealing as the canonical works that are still widely read today. It’s from this double orientation that most of my research arises, partly out of pure interest, partly out of a self-imposed sense of necessity.

Do you consider your research in general as interdisciplinary?

In my dissertation on the ode, I adopted a combination of the sort of quantitative approach you usually find in book-historical scholarship with a more traditional approach which was inflected as much by ‘old,’ that is, empirical, archival historicism as by cultural materialism. Even though I am mostly interested in conventional subjects such as genre, canonization, and literary tradition, I think my methodology is definitely interdisciplinary. Literary scholars have always benefited from other, related disciplines such as art, science, and music, so I believe funding bodies would do well to offer continued encouragement to scholars wishing to explore further interdisciplinary avenues. The broader interdisciplinary perspective generally delivers an account that is, in my opinion, much more enjoyable to read.

Have you ever experienced a ‘Eureka moment’ during your research?

I think one of the benefits of conducting the kind of empirical research that I enjoy doing is that you regularly experience brief moments of discovery because you are constantly trying to complete the puzzle that is your historical narrative, with as much attention to detail as possible. One of the most rewarding aspects in that respect is chronology. Like a true detective, I once tried to piece together the landscape of poetry production in the months following the death of Queen Anne in 1714. With the help of archival material from the British Library and a wealth of data from the online Burney collection of eighteenth-century newspapers, I was able to reconstruct on a day-to-day basis the public response to one of the most momentous monarchical transitions in the history of British royalty. It really felt as a modest revelatory moment when I was able to situate the poetry publications on a two-month timeline and trace the shifting attitudes from old monarch to new in a way that reduced the historical distance in such a way as to make it almost tangible, human, and strangely familiar. I honestly believe that the thrill of doing this kind of historical exploration can be more rewarding than historical fiction, simply because you are dealing with real people and events. Every nugget of information you encounter can serve to complete the story you are drafting and each, in a way, can be a ‘Eureka moment’ in itself.

What is the most inspiring (literary) study you have ever read? And the most recent one?

Even though I could—and probably should—give you a whole list of books that shaped the way I think about certain subjects or that I enjoyed for their scholarship, scope, or style (a list that would include names such as Pat Rogers, Sandro Jung, and Claude Rawson), there is one study that comes to mind immediately: James A. Winn’s Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts (2014). Much more than a straightforward biography of the queen, as the title would suggest, this book really is a chronicle of the times in which she lived and reigned, immensely detailed and richly illustrated with visual and musical examples. The book comes with a companion website featuring recordings of musical pieces by such famous composers as Giovanni Baptista Draghi and Henry Purcell, all produced anew by a Boston-based team of specialists in early modern music. Winn’s interdisciplinary approach to historical research is precisely what makes his work so captivating. The book is 816 pages long and weighs a ton, but I relished every second of reading it; the reader is taken on a journey through late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Britain, with no stone of political intrigue or ceremonial spectacle left unturned. Incidentally, I am currently reading another of Winn’s biographies: John Dryden and His World (1987), but naturally it is not nearly as abundant in material as the Queen Anne book. Although a comparison between these two biographies might be a little unfair, it just goes to show that we are now much more capable of using innovative, technological tools such as websites, podcasts, and apps to enrich our experience of reading about the early modern period, its people, and its literature.

 Thomas Van der Goten and Sarah Adams

The image is an engraved portrait of Queen Anne by I. Sympson after a design by G. Kneller. Below the image with twenty lines of engraved verse, the imprint says “Printed on ye River of Thame Jan. ye 23th 1715/16,” an indication that this sheet was issued at that winter’s Frost Fair.

Workshop theatre historiography

GEMS and THALIA would like to inform you of the following workshop, which is organised by members Kornee van der Haven, Sarah Adams and Yannice De Bruyn:

On 13 October 2017 we organize a workshop on theatre historiography in Amsterdam (UvA). Our primary aim is to offer PhD students working on historical theatre and performance a platform to discuss methodological difficulties they encounter in their research. It is a perfect occasion for peer discussion and feedback from more experienced scholars and dramaturgs. By means of introduction, Imre Bésanger (Theater Kwast) will outline his approach to methodology in his work with historical theatre texts. Kornee van der Haven (UGent) will moderate a discussion of Erika Fischer-Lichte’s views on theatre historiography.

Please find the (Dutch) program hereSarah Adams can provide you with more information and/or register your participation.

The image is a 3D visualisation of the Tapissiers theatre in Antwerp (1711) © Timothy De Paepe, 2007-2017.


Cervantes’ Hermetic Architectures – a lecture by Frederick de Armas (University of Chicago)

Date: Friday, 13 October 2017
Time: 2.30 pm
Location: Auditorium 1 Jan Broeckx (previously Auditorium A) at the Blandijn, campus Boekentoren, Ghent university

Cervantes’ Hermetic Architectures

Frederick A. de Armas
University of Chicago

Cervantes’ novels are peopled with characters constantly on the move, always going from here to there, pursuing amorous, spiritual, picaresque or chivalric quests. Since these figures often move outside cities, the architectures of Cervantes’ novels are few. As such they call attention to themselves and we may inquire as to their presence and function. While the Inn is one of the most prevalent architectures, it is a hybrid one, combining inside and outside. I am more interested in the home, villa, castle or church in order to see if indeed they abide by the concepts of place and space as delineated Yi-Fu Tuan: “Place is security space is freedom; we are attached to the one and long for the other.” Thus, the architectures in the novel should be equated with security. Can these places guard from the danger outside? Or do these hermetic sites wall-in certain dangers? Can some of these spaces evoke Hermes through the Corpus Hermeticum, thus concealing hermetic mysteries? As a first step in this analysis I will look at a sample of hermetic architectures in Don Quijote, Novelas ejemplares, and Persiles y Sigismunda.

Workshop with Professor Roland Greene on September 1st

We are pleased to announce a special workshop with Professor Roland Greene (Stanford, English Department) on Friday, September 1st. Professor Greene will be our guest on that day for an informal meeting with PhD students and other researchers to talk about ‘How Poetry Remakes the World: Elegy and Epithalamion in Renaissance Poetics’.

In the era of early modern humanism, classical lyric genres such as elegy and epithalamion not only follow received uses but become newly scripted as a negotiation between past and present. Concentrating on these two representative genres, this workshop is an experiment in a revived genre criticism that seeks to recover, in terms of indigenous to the period, how early modern poets and audiences conceived these and other genres at work in their world.

After a short introduction by Professor Greene we will have a discussion about the above mentioned issues. In advance we will read an article of Professor Greene about the early modern elegy and literature as a negation between past and present. Participants also are invited to shortly present their own research projects and questions they are currently dealing with in the second part of the workshop.

The workshop will take place on Friday, September 1st, 2-4 PM in the meeting room 110.060 (Blandijnberg, 1st Floor). You are most cordially invited to attend the workshop. Please confirm your attendance as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to .

Roland Greene is an expert on the early modern literatures of England, Latin Europe and the Trans-Atlantic world. His research pays particular attention to the history of poetry and poetics from the Renaissance to the present day. This year he serves as the president of the Modern Language Association. His theme for the 2016 Annual Convention is “Literature and its Publics: Past, Present, and Future”. His most recent book is Five Words: Critical Semantics in the Age of Shakespeare and Cervantes (Chicago, 2013). Five Words proposes an understanding of early modern culture through the changes embodied in five words or concepts over the sixteenth century: in English, bloodinvention language resistance, and world, and their counterparts in French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. In the seminar he will be discussing this book next to the history and theory of the poetry of the Americas. The seminar is open to all PhD student

Out now: The hurt(ful) body: Performing and beholding pain, 1600-1800

A few years ago, GEMS was one of the co-organisers of the conference ‘The Hurt(ful) Body before Diderot: Pain and Suffering in Early Modern Performance and the Visual Arts (c. 1600-1790)‘. A volume based on this conference appeared last week at Manchester University Press, edited by Tomas Macsotay, Karel Vanhaesebrouck and Cornelis van der Haven. This book offers a cross-disciplinary approach to pain and suffering in the early modern period, based on research in the fields of literary studies, art history, theatre studies, cultural history and the study of emotions. It has a sustained focus on visual sources, textual material and documents about actual events rather than well-known thinkers or ‘masterpieces’ of art history, and a preference for cases and historical contexts over systematic theory-building.

The hurt(ful) body brings under discussion visual and performative representations of embodied pain, using an insistently dialectical approach that takes into account the perspective of the hurt body itself, the power and afflictions of its beholder and, finally, the routinising and redeeming of hurt within institutional contexts. The volume’s two-fold approach of the hurt body, defining ‘hurt’ both from the perspective of the victim and the beholder (as well as their combined creation of a gaze), is unique. It establishes a double perspective about the riddle of ‘cruel’ viewing by tracking the shifting cultural meanings of victims’ bodies, and confronting them to the values of audiences, religious and popular institutional settings, and practices of punishment. It encompasses both the victim’s presence as an image or performed event of pain and the conundrum of the look – the transmitted ‘pain’ experienced by the watching audience. This will be done through three rubrics: the early modern performing body, beholder or audience responses, and the operations of institutional power.

Because of its interdisciplinary approach of the history of pain and the hurt(ful) body, the book will be of interest for Lecturers and students from different fields, like the history of ideas, the history of the body, urban history, theatre studies, literary studies, art history, emotion studies and performance studies

With contributions by Christian Biet, Jonathan Sawday, Javier Moscoso and others.

See also the Q&A with the editors

GEMS in portraits: Jonathan Regier

MC_KeplerThis spring, GEMS was more than happy to welcome Jonathan Regier as a new member. We seized the opportunity to ask him who inspires him and what drives him in his research. Jonathan did his PhD in history and philosophy of science at Université Paris Diderot, with a thesis titled Cause in Kepler’s Natural Philosophy. Afterwards, he joined Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a post-doctoral fellow at their Institute for Advanced Study. In early 2017, he came to UGent with a BOF fellowship. He will begin an FWO fellowship in October 2017 at UGent, in the department of philosophy and moral sciences. His academic interests revolve around the mathematisation of natural philosophy in the sixteenth century.

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