GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Merit Hondelink (Elizabeth Vandeweghe will respond)

What’s for dinner? Early modern food consumption analysed using cesspit samples and culinary texts

Date: Thursday, 21 November 2019, 12 AM – 1 PM

Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent):

21nov_Whats for dinner

We cannot live on air and sunshine alone, the human body needs food and fluids to survive. It needs it now, it needed it in the past. But what did our ancestors’ diet consist of? When we want to find out what people ate in the past, we have to look at their refuse. Not only their kitchen waste, but also their excrements. Archaeologists find these waste-products in a variety of archaeological contexts, such as hearths, middens, pits, landfills, trash deposits and, for Medieval and Early Modern urban areas, cesspits. Cesspits are constructed to contain cess or human excrements, and as a secondary filling these pits often also contain kitchen waste, household rubbish and garden waste. Within this research project, cesspits form the primary context of analysis. Bio-archaeological samples are studied to understand what people ate. However, not everything we eat is conserved: organic remains do decay due to pre- and post-depositional processes. Additionally, they rarely tell us how a food product was consumed. Studying historical culinary texts, such as cookbooks and kitchen account books, helps to better understand the range of what was available for consumption. These documents provide lists of foodstuffs purchased and prepared that might be absent in the archaeological record. However, they only offer a glimpse of what was eaten, as cookbooks represent what was potentially consumed by the higher social classes and account books often only list (dried) bulk goods, excluding the fresh produce bought at the market. Each research discipline has it biases. Combining the results of bio-archaeological and culinary historical research is therefore a must. They complement each other and provide a more nuanced picture not only of what Early Modern citizens ate and how it changed through time, but also of the socio-economic positions of the consumer.


Merit Hondelink, a PhD-candidate at University of Groningen/Antwerp University, is a trained archaeologist, specialised in archaeobotany (the study of plant remains present in archaeological sites). Her research focuses on the changes in food preparation and consumption by Delft citizens in the course of the Early Modern period, between 1500-1800. She wants to know if and how the daily diet changed in the course of these centuries and how this reflects social stratifications within a city. Did the intensifying global trade and the influence of foreign food fashions effect what food was consumed and how it was prepared? Or did people stick to what was known and continued to eat what had been available for decades or even centuries? Merit studies these past food practices by analysing archaeobotanical samples from cesspits and studying historical documents (cookbooks and institutional account books). Additionally, she brings an experimental approach to her research. She recreates historical recipes to study the differences in kitchen and consumption waste and to better understand which biases occur after the deposition of food remains.


Elizabeth Vandeweghe

Department of Art, Music and Theater Sciences Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41, Technicum Blok 4, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium

After getting my master’s degree in Art History in 2004 (University Ghent), I worked for seven years in the exhibitions department of the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (BOZAR), where I was responsible for all publications of the exhibitions, such as Het Verboden Rijk (2007), The World of Lucas Cranach (2010). In 2012, I started working as an assistant at UGent, Department Art, Theatre and Music Sciences, while working independently for cultural institutions such as the Centrum Rubenianum and the Centre for Fine Arts. As a part time assistant to Prof. dr. Martens and Prof. dr. Jonckheere, I further developed my knowledge of and interest in the arts in the Low Countries, in particular in the 16th and 17th century. Since September 2015, I am enrolled as a PhD candidate under the title “The Art Historical Meaning of Culinary Representations in the Visual Arts of the Early Modern Low Countries” (working title), with a joint Phd at the University of Verona.

Image reference: Adriaen van Utrecht, Pronkstilleven (1644). Holding Institution: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (NL)

GEMS Seminars 2019-2020 (1st semester)

This academic year we will launch a new series of GEMS meetings (see the schedule below and the attached overview). 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. Our website will be regularly updated with detailed information about each meeting (

Seminars are mostly scheduled on Wednesdays (2 – 4 PM) or Thursdays (12 AM – 1 PM). They take place in the Simon Stevin meeting room (Plateaustraat 22, heading left through glass doors and then on the left):


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 (see menu) 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. Secondly we will have three meetings this academic year 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…). People who are 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 (

What was personhood?

Lecture by Kevin Curran (University of Lausanne)

Date: 23 October 2019,  5 – 6:30 pm

Place: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy (Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent), room 120.083

Guest lecture organized by the NARMESH research project in collaboration with prof. Andrew Bricker (UGent).

Curran flyer


Abstract: What did it mean to be a “person” in Renaissance England? We know there was a basic legal conception of personhood available at least since Magna Carta (1215), a baseline guarantee that no free man could be harmed save in accordance with the law of the land. The idea was, and still is, that humans possess some fundamental degree of liberty and that communities work better when that liberty is protected. But personhood does not simply enshrine liberty. More precisely, it instrumentalizes it through basic legal transactions such as litigation, property transfer, and contract. It also balances it off with a set of responsibilities and obligations. This means that personhood is never just about the individual subject and their freedom. Instead, personhood denotes a relationship to one’s lived environment; a form of liberty that only makes sense in a transactional context. Personhood describes an interface between self and world and provides scripts of consent, entitlement, and responsibility for managing that interface. With these insights in mind, this talk aims to recover the way in which Renaissance personhood was shaped by ideas about the material world, both human and nonhuman. It offers a reminder that one of the core legal fictions of liberal modernity, a legal fiction that we now tend to associate with Enlightenment notions of agency, subjectivity, and individuality, has other sources in the physical experiences, creaturely lives, and material encounters of the Renaissance.

Bio: Kevin Curran is Professor of Early Modern Literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and editor of the book series “Edinburgh Critical Studies in Shakespeare and Philosophy.” He is the author of Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court (Ashgate, 2009). He is the editor of Shakespeare and Judgment (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and Renaissance Personhood: Materiality, Taxonomy, Process (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming Dec. 2019), and co-editor of a special issue of the journal Criticism on “Shakespeare and Phenomenology” (2012). In 2017, Curran was named Distinguished International Visiting Fellow at the Center for the History Of Emotions in Australia. He is also the founder and Director of the Lausanne Shakespeare Festival.

Contacts: NARMESH

‘The Country-Round’: Dance, Theater, and the Emergence of England’s Political Parties.

Lecture by prof. Seth Stewart Williams (Columbia University).

Date: Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 4-5 PM. 
Location: Plateau-room, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, Ghent


De buitenpartij

This talk explores how politicized choreographic material from seventeenth-century masques and plays circulated beyond courts and theaters in manuscript verse miscellanies and printed music. It argues that as the textual ephemera of theater culture reached rural communities, where it was reanimated in household performances, it cultivated sensorial political affiliations during the very decades when England’s factions crystallized into its first political parties.
Seth Stewart Williams is assistant professor in the Department of Dance at Barnard College of Columbia University, and affiliate faculty of the Barnard English Department and the Columbia PhD Program in Theatre and Performance. His research focuses on the interrelation of dance and literature, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was a 2019 Scholar-in-Residence at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and is at present a Long-Term Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library. He received his PhD in English literature from Columbia in 2017. In an earlier performance career, he appeared with the dance companies of Seán Curran, Donald McKayle, Mark Morris, and with the New York Baroque Dance Company.

This lecture is organised by THALIA (Interplay of Theatre, Literature & Media in Performance), Literary Studies Department (English) and GEMS (Group for Early Modern Studies)

Illustration: David Vinckboons, De buitenpartij (ca. 1610). Holding Institution: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

JOLCEL festive launch

Date: September 20, 2019, 16:00 – 19:30

Place: Faculty Library of Arts and Philosophy (Rozier 44, 9000 Gent), Atrium


The Journal of Latin Cosmopolitanism and European Literatures (JOLCEL) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, focusing on Latin and other cosmopolitan languages within European literary history. The first issue and more information can be found at

To mark the launch of JOLCEL, Catherine Conybeare (Bryn Mawr College) will be giving an inaugural lecture entitled ‘”Improve This Thought”: Latin Literature and Cosmopolitan Marginalia’. Her lecture will be followed by a reception with music and testimonials by Ghent University colleagues about the importance of the Latin tradition in their past and current research and educational activities.



* 4 – 4.30 pm: presentation of JOLCEL

* 4.30 – 5.30 pm: inaugural lecture

* 5.30 – 7.30 pm: reception with music and testimonials


We hope to see you there!

Best wishes,


The JOLCEL editorial board & RELICS executive board



Poster JOLCEL Launch

Research Day – GEMS

Date: Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Location: Simon Stevin Room (morning) and Jozef Plateau Room (afternoon). Jozef-Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent

On 29 May, GEMS will organize its second Research Day. During that day, we will discuss together some topical questions concerning European research agendas, applications and international cooperation between research groups, wit special attention for European projects and networks in the field of early modern studies. Anyone who is interested in these issues is invited to take part in the morning and/or afternoon program of this research day, with a presentation by Bram Van Oostveldt about his ERC-project application in the morning and three sessions in the afternoon, two about ERC applications and projects and one about international research collaborations and networks.

PLEASE REGISTER for this research day by conforming your attendance to: . Please indicate in your message if you would like to take part in the morning program, the afternoon program, or both, and if you would like to join us for lunch.


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Dürer ©: Selections from The Sunaert Collection

Temporary exhibition (10 May 2019 – 22 June 2019)
Opening: Thursday May 9th, 6 p.m. – 7.30 p.m.

Location: VANDENHOVE – Centre for Architecture and Art, UGent. Address: Rozier 1, 9000 Gent.

Opening hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.


(english version below)

“Dürer ©: Selecties uit de Sunaert Collection” presenteert houtsneden en gravures van en naar Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), geschonken door de Belgische schilder en verzamelaar Adolf Pieter Sunaert (1825-1876) aan de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de UGent. Deze prenten, die sinds de schenking aan het einde van de negentiende eeuw nooit werden tentoongesteld, waren fascinerend voor zowel de tijdgenoten van Dürer als voor latere generaties van drukkers.
De tentoonstelling verkent de dynamische relaties tussen originelen, kopieën en artistieke interpretaties in de prentkunst van de Renaissance, en de complexe problematiek van auteurschap en authenticiteit in de vroegmoderne Europese cultuur.

De tentoonstelling is samengesteld door Noam Andrews in samenwerking met studenten van het graduate seminar Iconology (lente 2019), van de Vakgroep Kunst-, Muziek- en Theaterwetenschappen van de UGent.

Zie de link voor meer informatie over het UGent Centrum voor architectuur en kunst.


“Dürer ©: Selections from The Sunaert Collection” presents woodcuts and engravings by and after Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) originally belonging to the Belgian painter and collector Adolf Pieter Sunaert (1825-1876). Never exhibited since their donation to the University Library Ghent in the late nineteenth century, these prints were objects of fascination both for Dürer’s contemporaries and the following generations of print artists.
Through an exploration of the dynamic relations between origins, copies, and artistic interpretation that animated Renaissance print culture, the exhibition addresses the manifold construction of authorship and authenticity in early modern Europe.

Conceived and realized by dr. Noam Andrews in tandem with students from the graduate seminar Iconology (Spring 2019), Vakgroep Kunst-, Muziek-, en Theaterwetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.


More information about the UGent Centre for Architecture and Art at this link.

Dante Workshop (UGent, 13-14 May 2019)

Location: UGent, Campus Boekentoren (Blandijnberg 2, 9000 – Ghent, Belgium)

Free entrance

Organizers: prof. Teodoro Katinis (UGent; SDA Gent), prof. Wim Verbaal (UGent), prof. Bart van den Bossche (KU Leuven), prof. Andrea Robiglio (KU Leuven).

Research groups: GEMS (Group for Early Modern Studies), HPIMS (Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies).

Participants: prof. Paolo Borsa (University of Milan), prof. Valerio Cappozzo (University of Mississipi), prof. Teodoro Katinis (UGent, SDA Gent), prof. Wim Verbaal (UGent), prof. Bart van den Bossche (KU Leuven), prof. Andrea Robiglio (KU Leuven), colleagues of the GEMS and the HPIMS, PhD students, students of the course LKV.

Reading materials available here



13/5: Room 120.036

h15-17: Dante Alighieri between Latin and the Vernacular, in English.

Moderators: Wim Verbaal and Andrea Robiglio.

Prof. Paolo Borsa and prof. Valerio Cappozzo will circulate in advance their materials to feed the discussion: published articles and current projects with specific regards to Dante’s poetry, the Stilnovo, and the interpretation of dreams in the Middle Ages.

h17: coffee break and networking.

h18:30: dinner.

h20-22: prof. Valerio Cappozzo, L’interpretazione dei sogni da Dante ad oggi, in Italian for the Società Dante Alighieri – Gent (for a broad public).


14/5: Room 120.012

Morning: informal meetings with PhD students and colleagues to discuss future research opportunities (feel free to contact us if you are interested in meeting the speakers).

h16-19: Dante tra latino e volgare, in Italian.

Moderator: Teodoro Katinis.

Prof. Paolo Borsa e prof. Valerio Cappozzo, for the students of LKV. Articles and handouts will circulate in advance. External participants are welcome to join also this part of the workshop.

h20: dinner


Image reference: Luca Signorelli, Portrait of Dante (1500-1504 ca.). Fresco. Orvieto Cathedral, Chapel of St Britius.

Exhibition Baroque Brutalities: Imagining Violence in Art (17th Century & today)

VANDENHOVE Centre for Architecture and Arts, Rozier 1, Ghent

Thursday & Friday 28 & 29 March, 2-6 PM and Saturday 30 March, 10 AM – 5 PM.

The exhibition shows 17th-century prints from the UGent University Library and works by Simon Pummell (video), Doina Kraal and Kevin Simón Mancera Vivas (peep-show box), Abattoir Fermé (performance stills).

Poster Inger Leemans Imagineering Violence 2019 Amsterdam-02

 The early modern period witnessed a true explosion of images on pain, suffering and violence across painting, print, theater, and public space. The public had plenty to choose from: sieges, executions, massacres. Violence fascinated the early modern spectator, yet it simultaneously conjured up numerous questions, some of which are not unlike those posed today.

How can violence be represented and imagined? How can an artist document the violence of the times? What about the numerous ethical implications? When does a spectator become a voyeur? When does violence turn into spectacle? Can violence be aestheticized? Does an artist have a duty to document contemporary violence? These questions saturate modern art, from the horrors of War in Goya to the racial violence in Edward and Nancy Kienholz’s ‘Five Car Stud’.

Baroque Brutalities not only shows how violence is represented in works of art from about 1650, but it also deals with the above-mentioned social, cultural and ethical questions concerning the representation of (extreme) violence today and in the Baroque era.

This exhibition is an initiative of the Dutch-Belgian research group ITEMP: Imagineering Violence – see:

GEMS Lecture 2019 with Professor Hiro Hirai (Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Radboud University, Netherlands)

Galen in the Medical Context of the Scientific Revolution

Date: Monday, 29 April 2019
Time: 4 – 6 PM
Location: Plateauzaal (Jozef Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Galen (129–ca. 216) left a significant number of writings, over 100 treatises in a modern edition, which represent some 12 percent of ancient Greek literature. Although Galenism dominated the tradition of Western medicine, knowledge of his writings was relatively limited during the Middle Ages. The substantial body of these writings was made available in Europe thanks to the Aldine Greek edition (Venice, 1525), followed by a flood of Latin translations. In my paper, I will examine the impact of some key texts of Galen at the threshold of early modern science and philosophy. To this end I will focus on the particular use of Galen’s writings and teachings by Jean Fernel (1497–1558) of Paris, one of the most influential physicians of the Renaissance, and other physician-philosophers who were his contemporaries and followers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.


Image references:
1. Nicolas de Larmessin, Portrait of Jean François Fernel. Engraving. Holding Institution: Smithsonian Libraries (Washington, DC);
2. Title page of Galen’s Aldine Greek edition (Venice 1525).