GEMS Plans for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

Like many research groups, both at UGent and abroad, GEMS was forced to cancel and postpone a range of wonderful events across 2020 and 2021 featuring an array of speakers, scholars, students and visitors.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, though, 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 Delphine Calle (Delphine.Calle@UGent.be) and Chris Chan (Christopher.Chan@UGent.be)

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 (Andrew.Bricker@UGent.be). 

We look forward to welcoming everyone back to GEMS in 2021-2022!

Sincerely,

The GEMS Steering Committee

Upcoming GEMS Events

Both GEMS-members and other colleagues with an interest in the early modern period are invited to come to these meetings and to participate in the discussions. 

Academic year 2021-22

GEMS in portraits: dr. Christopher Chan

William Hogarth’s painting The Distrest Poet (c. 1736), source: Wikimedia Commons. Poets were often satirically portrayed as struggling impoverished hack writers. In his project, Chris thinks in part about the similarities and differences between such satirical portrayals and how actual labouring poets thought about their craft.

GEMS in Portraits: Dr. Christopher Chan

I recently had the chance to talk to new GEMS member Dr. Chris Chan for our GEMS in Portraits series. Chris completed his PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020 with a dissertation called Communal Lyricisms and the Lyricization of English Poetry, 1650–1790. In his project he aims to construct a new literary, social and political history of eighteenth-century British lyrical poetry by turning to how more uncommon genres (such as labouring class poetry, political exile poetry and anti-slavery poetry) engaged with the lyric form. He recently moved to Belgium to start a BOF postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Literary Studies at UGent where he is expanding his dissertation project into a monograph. While he’s busy settling in in Ghent, Chris still found the time to chat about his current research interests and first impressions of teaching and working at UGent.

How did your interest in your research arise?

When I was a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, for the first three years I had no idea what I wanted to study and which burning questions I wanted to address. I felt like I knew a lot about eighteenth-century poetry, but I didn’t know how to put that to scholarly use. Then, for a mandatory graduate seminar, we were required to write a single, 25-word sentence explaining what our projects were, and in a moment of panic I wrote: “my project rereads lyric across the eighteenth century, not as private or interiorized expression, but rather as the enabling condition for a British public national consciousness.” Looking back, it was the first time that I asked myself a question which had nagged me throughout my exam reading: why were so many theorists of lyric poetry so interested primarily in private and interiorized poetry and poets rather than more explicitly public and national ones? Why was lyric poetry so often theorized in these abstract and apolitical terms? The more I thought about it, the more I realized it probably has to do with the historiography of lyric poetry: the idea that critics presume that somehow the eighteenth century just didn’t have much lyric poetry worth writing about until poets learned to tap into the emotions or imagination. That’s how my idea arose to trace a new history of eighteenth-century lyric poetry and theory, to show that poets and their interlocutors understood lyric to be a really flexible medium for political and social expression.

Do you consider your research to be interdisciplinary?

I often personally feel that my research to date on eighteenth-century poetry has been primarily literary. I feel as though I have spent most of my time and energy interrogating the making of a poetic mode, the ways we have read that poetic mode and how that making shaped later discourses and methods of reading poetry. That’s why I think of this as a very literary project. At the same time, I’m extremely interested in putting poems and theories of poetry in contact with events, subjects and themes that have long been ignored in lyric theory, such as political exile, urban poverty and manual labour. I’m not sure if this ethos counts as interdisciplinary, but I do see it as a much-needed extension of literary theories of poetry into realms and genres that are so often classified as non-lyrical or non-poetic, precisely because these defy expectations of what poets do or should write about. I’m certainly very interested in the intersections of poems and their environments and how poems circulate in their material and political environments.

Have you ever experienced a eureka moment in your research?

It’s probably the moment I described earlier, when I discovered my dissertation topic. Second to that is the moment when I figured out what I wanted to say about anti-slavery poetry and eighteenth-century review culture. It took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to read anti-slavery poetry just because there is already so much excellent scholarly criticism on that genre. It was only after a spontaneous moment in my reading, that I realized that there has been comparatively less said about the reception of this poetry. In particular, I noticed two general trends in reviews of anti-slavery poetry. On the one hand, poems which denounced the slave trade would be praised for their political message, but the reviews would offer few excerpts or commentary on their formal and aesthetic features. On the other hand, there were also poems that received much more criticism for their misuse of poetic language and imagination than they did for their antislavery sentiments. This got me thinking: why were these reviewers not thinking of these two ideas—the politics and the poetry—together? Once I started thinking a lot about the matter of reception, I realized that this was a sort of litmus test for how I wanted to read all the genres I wanted to cover in my project: how were these poems, which we now tend to think of as non-lyrical or marginalized, received in their time? What can that reception tell us about how we think of lyric today?

What is the most inspiring study you have read?

One of the most inspiring studies I have read is one by my doctoral advisor, Suvir Kaul’s Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire (2000). I consider his study to be foundational to a lot of my research. Any scholar of eighteenth-century poetry widely recognizes just how influential Kaul’s study is in terms of attending to British poets’ engagements and implications in the project of empire building, as well as the technical features and formal innovations of their poetry. For me, this book has always modelled the best kind of criticism that one can practice on poetry of this period. It’s judicious in its close readings, forthright in its methodological claims and capacious in its willingness to put eighteenth-century poetry in dialogue with its historical context. On a more personal note, Poems of Nation is so important to me because it displays the same qualities of scholarly precision, professional clarity and readerly generosity that Suvir showed me as an advisor at the University of Pennsylvania.

And the most recent one?

I have been really fascinated by Dorothy Wang’s Thinking its Presence: Form, Race and Subjectivity in Contemporary American Poetry (2014). While she works with a completely different literary archive than I do, Wang makes a vital and compelling case for rethinking the methodology of poetics through the legacies of racialization, ethnicization and minoritarian identity in the United States. I find her willingness to read aesthetic and literary forms as social, political and institutional forms to be so admirable. Speaking as a Chinese American myself, I’m especially grateful for the ways in which her close readings of Asian American poets don’t merely hold them up as exceptional figures, but rather as experimental ones, as poets whose practices should get us to rethink everything we think we know about poetry.

Interview by: Fauve Vandenberghe

Recording GEMS talk by Klaas Van Gelder now on Youtube

Joyous Entries and Local Lordship in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands (6 May 2021)

by Klaas Van Gelder (Rijksarchief Gent/Universiteit Gent)

Abstract:

This presentation analyses a set of 80 seigneurial joyous entries ranging from 1433 until 1793. Princely joyous entries and inaugurations have received incessant scholarly attention ever since the Cultural Turn and the resulting understanding of ritual and ceremony as forms of communication and symbolic negotiation. In several parts of medieval and early modern Europe, similar solemnities also took place in villages and small towns on the level of the seigneury. This was also the case in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands, with a particularly strong tradition in Brabant. Local lords and ladies held joyous entries in their seigneuries, issued liberty charters, swore to uphold local rights and privileges, celebrated masses and Te Deums, enjoyed banquets with local dignitaries, and plunged the village or town in a festive atmosphere. This article argues that these solemnities were structural components of the seigneurial landscape, and carried legal and political meaning. They are also gauges for power relations between the lord, local office-holders and villagers, although the collected data only allows us to draw preliminary conclusions about how these power relations developed over time.

Anti-Court Sentiments in Early Modern Italy, by Paola Ugolini (18 May 2021)

Anti-Court Sentiments in Early Modern Italy

by Paola Ugolini (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Date: Tuesday, 18 May 2021, 16:00-17:00

Zoom linkhttps://ugent-be.zoom.us/j/99433050223?pwd=bjBHVnJQYU1PdnhidUorY1dHZXVtdz09 

Meeting ID: 994 3305 0223
Passcode: SErWwar4

Abstract:

In this talk I will present my recent publication, The Court and Its Critics (University of Toronto Press, 2020) and my attempts to re-assess the long-neglected genre of works against courts and courtiers. Critiques of courts and courtiers were for a long time considered nothing more than futile outlets, composed by employing recurring sets of meaningless topoi. I argue instead that anti-courtly discourse furnished a platform for discussing some of the most pressing questions of Renaissance Italian society, such as subjectivity and self-fashioning, gender and identity, social mobility, the possible role for the intellectual in the political and social spheres, and a sense of anxiety related to foreign occupation of the Italian peninsula.

Call for papers: Slavery in the cultural imagination

Call for Papers 

Slavery in the Cultural Imagination 

Voices of Dissent in the Neerlandophone Space, 17th-21st Century 

Confirmed keynotes 

Prof Hasana Sharp, McGill University 

Prof Marlene Daut, University of Virginia 

The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH), and Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) are co-convening a two-day conference on the cultural imagination of slavery. The conference will be held on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 October 2021 at the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht. The aims and motivations for the conference can be found below. We warmly invite contributions to this conference. If you are interested in participating, please send a title, an abstract of 250-300 words, and a short bio (under 100 words) to m.g.paijmans@uva.nl by 15 June 2021. We are currently approaching a publisher for the publication of an edited volume based on conference proceedings. If you would be interested to participate in this volume, please, indicate this in your response. 

The members of the organising committee are Dr Saskia Pieterse (Utrecht University), Dr Marrigje Paijmans (University of Amsterdam), and Dr Karwan Fatah Black (Leiden University). 

More information: see the attached Call for Papers

Joyous Entries and Local Lordship in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands, by Klaas Van Gelder

Joyous Entries and Local Lordship in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands

by Klaas Van Gelder (Rijksarchief Gent/Universiteit Gent)

Date: Thursday, 6 May 2021, 16:00-17:00

Zoom linkhttps://ugent-be.zoom.us/j/99877524043?pwd=aWVKNkE0V3B6aEtnTWtGTkhSYk1Sdz09 

Meeting ID: 998 7752 4043

Passcode: cq3uhS16

Abstract:

This presentation analyses a set of 80 seigneurial joyous entries ranging from 1433 until 1793. Princely joyous entries and inaugurations have received incessant scholarly attention ever since the Cultural Turn and the resulting understanding of ritual and ceremony as forms of communication and symbolic negotiation. In several parts of medieval and early modern Europe, similar solemnities also took place in villages and small towns on the level of the seigneury. This was also the case in the Burgundian and Habsburg Netherlands, with a particularly strong tradition in Brabant. Local lords and ladies held joyous entries in their seigneuries, issued liberty charters, swore to uphold local rights and privileges, celebrated masses and Te Deums, enjoyed banquets with local dignitaries, and plunged the village or town in a festive atmosphere. This article argues that these solemnities were structural components of the seigneurial landscape, and carried legal and political meaning. They are also gauges for power relations between the lord, local office-holders and villagers, although the collected data only allows us to draw preliminary conclusions about how these power relations developed over time.

“New Books in Dialogue”: Early modern Italian studies – 26 February (The Early Modern Research Workshop, University of Buffalo)

The Early Modern Research Workshop at the University at Buffalo is inaugurating a “New Books in Dialogue” series, which brings together UB faculty and colleagues at other institutions who have newly published or soon-to-be-published books to discuss their works.

Please join us (on Zoom)​ on Friday, February 26 at 3:00pm Eastern Time / 9:00pm Central European Time for a conversation with:

Eva Del Soldato (Associate Professor of Romance Languages, University of Pennsylvania), author of Early Modern Aristotle. On the Making and Unmaking of Authority (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)
https://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/16096.html

Eugenio Refini (Associate Professor of Italian, New York University), author of The Vernacular Aristotle: Translation as Reception in Medieval and Renaissance Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2020)
https://www.cambridge.org/it/academic/subjects/classical-studies/classical-literature/vernacular-aristotle-translation-reception-medieval-and-renaissance-italy?format=HB

Paola Ugolini (Associate Professor of Italian, UB), author of The Court and Its Critics. Anti-Court Sentiments in Early Modern Italy (University of Toronto Press, 2020) https://utorontopress.com/us/the-court-and-its-critics-2


We would like to bring more scholars together to discuss their work in areas related to Early Modern Studies (broadly defined). If interested, please send an abstract of your book and information on possible co-presenters and their books to:
Ndubueze Mbah ndubueze@buffalo.edu
Marla Segol marlaseg@buffalo.edu
Paola Ugolini ugolini@buffalo.edu

Please find here below the Zoom link for this event:

Paola Ugolini is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: New Books in Dialogue: Early Modern Italian Studies — Del Soldato, Refini, Ugolini

Time: Feb 26, 2021 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://buffalo.zoom.us/j/95709711271?pwd=Uk5XTjZPeUI1a041YXNXVEpDaXg5QT09

Meeting ID: 957 0971 1271

Passcode: 528953

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