The research carried out in the Group for Early Modern Studies is marked by its focus on the early modern period, by its interdisciplinary engagements, and by a shared concern for methodological reflection. Central in this respect is the historical tension that we perceive between the early modern phenomena that we study and the late-modern framework guiding our research questions and methodologies. The historical relationship between the past and the way we address it (a relationship that works in both directions) is one of the central concerns of GEMS. We welcome senior and junior scholars at Ghent University and from other institutions. Junior researchers play an important role both in shaping the group’s direction and by participating in its activities.
‘The pearl fishermen’ by the Florentine painter Allessandro Allori (1537-1607) offers an allegory of the mission that GEMS (‘jewels’) has set itself. The painting is a typical product of the early modern period, in which the return to the past is defined first and foremost as a preoccupation of and for the present. The period’s interest in the culture of Antiquity was a shaping force in the way in which early modern men and women defined themselves. Allori’s painting participates in this idea of a living tradition – not only in the way that its setting suggests (the Greco-Roman clothing in which the fishermen are adorned) but also on the basis of the very objects that these men and women are after: pearls that began to take shape in an age forlorn, whose very form (the product of a development) is defined by the passing of time.