GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Elwin Hofman

Psychological knowledge and where to find it

Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020, 12-13h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

The history of psychology is often a rather dull field. Many of its practitioners are psychologists seeking to retrace the great innovations in their discipline. Except to pay lip service to some great men – Aristotle, Locke, Kant – they rarely venture beyond the last third of the nineteenth century, when ‘scientific’ psychology emerged as a discipline. Yet in the last two decades, two developments have shaken up the long-held consensus that psychology has ‘a long past, but a short history’. First, it has been shown that there was an academic discipline of psychology in the early modern period, and even under that very name. Second, historians of twentieth-century psychology have started to move beyond the walls of the academy in order to understand how psychological knowledge operated in society. They have come to study the uses of psychology in everyday life and, conversely, how everyday problems and practices have shaped psychological knowledge. This latter approach is still rare in the study of early modern psychology. In this atelier, I will therefore explore the different sources of psychological knowledge in the early modern period, particularly for what concerns everyday and ‘practical’ psychological knowledge, outside the confines of learned culture. While I will focus on the potential of legal sources, I invite participants to think along about how we might re-write the history of early modern psychology.

Elwin Hofman is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders at the Cultural History research group, KU Leuven. He studies the cultural and social history of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. He has previously published on the history of the self, emotions in eighteenth-century criminal justice, and the history of homosexuality. His current research project concerns the rise of psychological interrogation techniques in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.

GEMS Inspired by…

Michiel van Dam inspired by Philip Sheldrake

Spaces of Solidarity: History, the Urban and the Spiritual Practice of Everyday Life

Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2020, 14-16h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

The work of Philip Sheldrake has become synonymous with innovative and interdisciplinary research in the field of (Christian) spirituality, with interventions coming in the domains of historiography, theology, philosophy, and social theory. Resolutely arguing for the crucial presence of spiritual practices in the sphere of everyday life, Sheldrake has opened up important new avenues of investigation for historians and social scientists looking to nuance the often rigid distinction made between religious contemplation and public life, between Christian interiority and social action. In this session, I will give a short analytic summary of Sheldrake’s recent contributions such as Explorations in Spirituality (2010) and The Spiritual City (2014), looking at the lessons we can derive from his interdisciplinary approach, his spiritual theology of social engagement, and his account of the modern-day, diverse city. I will end by reflecting on Sheldrake’s importance for my own current research project, an intellectual history of sociology as a ‘science of solidarity’, which investigates the secularizing effects of traditional notions of social assistance, as well as the potential of modern sources of faith-based solidarity for the superdiverse urban space of the 21st century.

Michiel Van Dam is postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp. In 2019 he defended his PhD-thesis at Ghent University: La révolution des temps. Revolutionary languages and politics of time in the Austrian Netherlands and the Dutch Republic (1780-1790)

Event Cancelled: Atelier with Sabrina Lind

Due to illness we have to cancel the GEMS Seminar this Thursday. The Atelier with Sabrina Lind will be rescheduled in the new year.

We apologise for the short notice and we will keep you updated.

Upcoming GEMS Seminars:

Kornee van der Haven & Renée Vulto (UGent) inspired by… Monique Scheer
Early modern song and drill as ‘emotional practices’
Date: Wednesday, 8 January 2020, 14-16h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Atelier with Elwin Hofman (KU Leuven)
Psychological knowledge and where to find it
Date: Thursday, 16 January 2020, 12-13h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Atelier with Thomas Velle (UGent)
Writing a Transnational History of an Untranslatable Genre. The Case of Latin Epigrams in the Republic of Letters (17th and 18th C)
Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020, 12-13h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Steven Vanden Broecke & Michiel Van Dam (UGent) inspired by… Philip Sheldrake
Date: Wednesday, 4 March 2020, 14-16h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Joint Seminar with Sarton Centre 
Gwendoline de Mûelenaere (UGent), 
Between Words and Images: Disseminating Science in Early Modern Education in the Southern Netherlands
Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), 
The Sphaera Corpus and Computational Humanitates
Date: Thursday, 19 March 2020, 14-16h
Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Sabrina Lind

Between Art and History.

Multimedia Art and its Commissioning Process. The Case of the Cardinal-Infant Ferdinand of Spain’s Joyous Entry into Antwerp (1635)

Date: Thursday, 19 December 2019, 12 AM – 1 PM

Place: Simon Stevin Room (Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

N.B.: event cancelled due to illness. It will be rescheduled in the new year (date: TBA).

19dec_Between Art and History

Take wooden architectural structures draped with sculptures, paintings, festoons, flags, and candles, theatrical and music performances, a very important guest, as well as a cheering crowd and we get a Netherlandish joyous entry in the early modern period. Especially the multimedia decorations might arouse interest of art historians who are following interdisciplinary approaches.
The focus of this talk will be on the decoration program for the joyous entry of the Cardinal-Infant Ferdinand of Spain into Antwerp on 17th April 1635. On the one hand, the accomplishment of the production and the installation of these complex decorations was a challenge – also because of the short processing time and the scale of the project. On the other hand, the commissioning process which generally precedes the production might not have been simple either. How were the various types of artists – carpenters, sculptors, and painters – charged by the civic commissioner? Which extra conditions were caused by the multimedia character of the decorations? These questions can only be dealt with an interdisciplinary approach which exceeds the more ‘traditional’ art historical aspects such as artistic practices by incorporating questions from, for instance, Legal and Economic History. By making use of this interdisciplinary approach, this talk will shed new light especially on the organization of such a civic artistic large-scale project.


Sabrina Lind studied Art History (and Philosophy) at the University of Hamburg, the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, as well as the LMU Munich and graduated in 2015 with a Master of Arts. Since 1 October 2018, she is working as a doctoral researcher at the Department of Art, Music and Theatre Sciences at Ghent University, funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). Her Joint PhD project about the joyous entry of the Cardinal-Infant Ferdinand of Spain into Antwerp in 1635 wherein she focuses on socio-economic aspects such as the practical organization and the production of the multimedia decorations designed by Peter Paul Rubens as well as on what this project can tell about the art production and power structures in Antwerp is supervised by Prof. Dr. Koenraad Jonckheere (Ghent University), Prof. Dr. Bernard Aikema (University of Verona), and Prof. Dr. Nils Büttner (Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design). She is currently also working as a Visiting Scholar at the Rubenianum in Antwerp.


Image reference: detail of Theodoor van Thulden, Cathedral of Antwerp with Firework, in: Jan Gaspar Gevaerts (i.a.), Pompa introitus […] Ferdinandi […]. Antwerp: Jan van Meurs, 1641. Holding institution: Biblioteca Nacional de España (digitised copy available on Biblioteca Digital Hispánica)

GEMS Seminar: Atelier with Fauve Vandenberghe

Hyenas in Petticoats: A Poetics of British Female-Authored Satire, 1670-1820

Date: Wednesday, 4 December 2019,  14:00-15:00

Place: Camelot Room (Blandijnberg 2, 3rd floor, lokaal 130.007)


In this presentation, I will present the preparations for my PhD applications and I will briefly discuss some of the preliminary findings of this research. My project aims to offer the first systematic study of British female-authored satire of the long eighteenth century, an era often hailed the Golden Age of Satire. Until now, scholars of eighteenth-century satire have invariably defined the satiric production of this period based on its most enduring, and predominantly male, practitioners. Hyenas in Petticoats, on the other hand, intends to devise a counter-canon of female satirists. By considering women’s satiric writings in light of commonplace conceptions about Augustan satire, this project attempts to shun narrow definitions of satire and, instead, opens up the full potential of satiric form during this era. In addition, I also focus on how such writers negotiated the satirical aspects of their works with their identities as female writers. In this way, this research will not only contribute to our understanding of the history of satire, but will also shed new light on the complex workings of eighteenth-century female authorship.


Fauve Vandenberghe obtained her MA in English literature and linguistics and is enrolled in a second master’s in historical literature and linguistics, where she is specializing in women’s writing of the eighteenth century. She is currently preparing a PhD project on eighteenth-century female satirists.

Image reference: detail of James Gillray, New morality; or The promis’d installment of the high priest of the Theophilanthropes, with the homage of Leviathan and his suite (1798). Print.

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)