The Early Modern Colloquium

A Graduate Student-Run Interest Group at the University of Michigan


Events 2012
Events 2013-14
Annual Conference
Past EMC Schedules
Events Around Campus


Calendar of Events, 2014:


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21st-SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd, 2014. The EMC invites you to attend its two-day conference, "Representations of Race in the Early Modern Period." The keynote speakers for this event will be Professor Arthur Little (English, University of California-Los Angeles) and Professor Peter Erickson (Theater, Northwestern University).

This interdisciplinary conference will engage with the fruitful field of early modern critical race studies, examining the myriad ways in which racial ideologies were represented, deployed, and undermined in the period, and exploring the scholarly possibilities for discussing, theorizing, and historicizing race. Discourses of difference, seen through the art, literature, and historical records of the period, can be both strikingly familiar and entirely alien to a contemporary observer.  Scholars of geo-humoral theory, for example, have demonstrated that to many in the period, physical ethnic difference was, to some extent, a mutable feature, changeable in relation to one’s latitudinal deviation from a central Mediterranean.  Moreover, some early modern scholars contend that contemporary racist discourse was not yet available in the period, as a European notion of fixed and hierarchical racial categories was concomitantly undeveloped.  Despite these arguments, a number of scholars cogently demonstrate the racialized aspect of moral and aesthetic discourse, examining the European, and particularly Elizabethan, privileging of “fairness” and the pejorative moral rhetoric concerning darkness. Such arguments are often also supported by European involvement in the slave trade and Renaissance colonial practices. Another complicating component to the conversation is, as Ania Loomba writes in her introduction to Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism, that “in early modern Europe the bitterest conflicts between European Christians and others had to do with religion.” Thus, we can see how a number of issues including knowledge production, artistic representation, and the construction of identities--national, ethnic, sexual, and religious-- intersect with and are shaped by debates surrounding race.

For detailed information about the conference, please see the SCHEDULE. Please contact Eliza Mathie ( or Kyle Grady( with any questions pertaining to the conference.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 23th, 2013, 4:00pm, 3241 ANGELL HALL. Please join us to workshop "'Do you believe in fairies?': Thresholds of Performance in the Age of Elizabethan Theatrical Production" by Steven Mullaney. The essay grew out of a talk initially presented at the Forty-first Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America. Please contact Elizabeth Mathie ( if you would like to receive a copy of it.

Essay Description: Don't worry, "Do you believe in fairies?" is not about short people with wings (except for a brief walk-on by Tinker Bell) or A Midsummer Night's Dream. Delivered at SAA in 2013, the talk/emergent essay is my initial, very much in-progress effort to understand theatrical performance in terms of its dimensionality and not merely its semiology. With some help from Deleuze and Castells, I frame the inquiry in terms of the virtual and actual spaces of production, in an economic as well as a theatrical sense of production. The phenomenology of the audience, considered as (co)producer of "the play" as well as its consumer, interests me as much as (even more than) the semiotics of representation or mimesis. At the end, I take a look (with ears) at the fifth act of The Changeling.

Calendar of Events, 2012-13:


THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2012, 4-5:00pm, 3154 ANGELL HALL.The Graduate Interest Meeting will offer more information about the EMC and discuss the schedule for the 2012-13 academic year. We would love to see current members of the EMC as well as any individuals who might be interested in participating in the EMC at this meeting; we will continue to plan our schedule for the year - a schedule that we hope will appeal to the various and sundry interests of the current early modern studies community at the University of Michigan.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2012, 5-6:00pm, 3154 ANGELL HALL.The Faculty Social Hour will provide graduate student and faculty members of the EMC with an opportunity catch up with each other as the Fall 2012 Semester commences. Because members of the EMC inhabit a variety of departments at Michigan, this event will allow all of us to reconvene again.


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7th, 2012, 4-5:00pm, 3222 ANGELL HALL. Jeffrey Masten, Professor of English and Gender Studies at Northwestern University, will deliver a public lecture, "Literosexuality: Queerer Book History through Early Modern Examples." Reflecting on how a queer analysis might better inform scholarship on the history of the book, the lecture will focus on the early modern erotics of historiated initials, commonplacing activities, and readerships--especially those of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 2012, 10-11:30am, 3184 ANGELL HALL. This graduate student workshop will center around a pre-circulated paper, "Straightening Out Christopher Marlowe; Or, Marlowe's Vitality," by Jeffrey Masten, Professor of English and Gender Studies at Northwestern University. Please contact Cordelia Zukerman ( if you would like to receive a copy of the paper.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15th, 2012, 4:00pm, 3241 ANGELL HALL. Please join us for a dissertation workshop: "Fooling, Song, and Intelletual Disability in Twelfth Night" by Angela Heetderks (English, University of Michigan). This chapter will be pre-circulated before the workshop. Please contact Leila Watkins ( if you would like to receive a copy of it before the workshop.

Chapter Abstract: In this chapter, I examine three representations of fools in early modern English literature. I show how the work of artificial or vocational fools - who are contrasted with "natural" fools in early modern English texts is often construed as a counterfeit performance of natural fooling. In doing so, I consider both the feats of verbal wit and the renditions of popular song that characterize the vocational fool's performance. I argue that the fool is often depicted as intellectually disabled and that the fool's songs, in particular, are depicted as intellectually disabling - that is, deleterious to the singer and his audience alike. Part I of this chapter lays out these argumentsand closes with a short case studyof the question of counterfeiture in Feste's performace of fooling in act IV, scene ii of Twelfth Night. Part II widens this chapter's topical lens to look at the marginal position of singers in the broader Shakespearean corpus; it then returns to Twelfth Night to show how Feste uses song to blur early modern distinctions between natural and artificial fooling and to perform expressions of intellectual difference.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 17th, 2013, 4:00pm, 3222 ANGELL HALL. Please join us to workshop a book chapter: "Cross-gender Exchange, Civility, and the Foreign: a Ballet and a Barriers, 1605" by Melinda Gough. Gough is a professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies and the Graduate Program in Gender Studies and Feminist Research at McMaster University. The chapter will be pre-circulated two weeks before the workshop. Please contact Leila Watkins ( if you would like to receive a copy of it.


THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7th, 2013, 4:00pm, 3222 ANGELL HALL. David Cressy, the George III Professor of History and Humanities at The Ohio State University, will deliver a public lecture, "Trouble with Gypsies in Tudor and Stuart England."

Lecture Abstract:"Trouble with Gypsies" explores the social, cultural, legal and political response to Gypsies in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and exposes the historical vectors of marginality, authority, and transgression.  It engages three levels of problem: first, historiography and scholarship, as literary, historical, folkloric, and activist scholars have grappled with sources plagued by inadequacies of evidence; second, the problem faced by early modern councilors, magistrates and parliamentarians as they sought to devise strategies for handling Gypsies and the so-called ‘counterfeit Egyptians’ who traveled with them;  and third, the problem of Gypsies themselves, who struggled to thrive in a shifting environment of suspicion, hostility and persecution. Grounded on the interdisciplinary literature on Gypsies in history, with passing reference to 'coney-catching' literature, this lecture introduces evidence from under-explored archives , including  depositions, indictments and commentary from Star Chamber and other courts. The evidence reveals splits and developments within early modern officialdom that shed indirect light on the itineraries, activities and survival strategies of early modern Gypsies. Questions for consideration include the robustness, porosity, and mutability of  of Gypsy identity; the labeling of Gypsies as idle, counterfeit, dissembling rogues; and the problem of retrieving a Gypsy history from non-Gypsy sources.

The Early Modern Colloquium would like to thank the University of Michigan Center for European Studies, Department of English, Department of History, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, Institute for the Humanities, and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program for genersouly helping to sponsor this event.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8th, 2013, TIME: Noon-2:00pm, LOCATION: 3241 ANGELL HALL.We are happy to invite graduate students to join a colloquium on "Importunate Petitioners," a chapter from David Cressy's current book project on Charles I. David Cressy is the George III Professor of History and Humanities at The Ohio State University. Please contact Sarah Linwick ( with questions, to request a copy of the chapter, or to confirm your attendance. We will attempt to provide lunch for everyone attends, so please confirm your attendance by February 4.

"Importunate Petitioners," explores attempts made by women and men of early modern England to engage with their king, Charles I. Charles I received countless petitions from sundry individuals and collectives during his reign. As Cressy writes, petitions "arrived through every avenue and agency, furthered by courtiers, officers and helpful contacts." This chapter surveys petitions from the "two hundred and ten volumes of appearances and 32,000 bundles of pleadings" processed by the Caroline Court of Requests. Although historians have heretofore neglected this extensive, uncalendared archive, Cressy's study demonstrates how these petitions speak to a nexus of personal and national concerns as well as elucidate "relationships between the crown and the subject, the powerful and lowly, insiders and outsiders, men and women" in early modern England. Further, in highlighting petitions submitted by a motley of groups and figures - the vice-chancellor of the university of Cambridge, an ambitious yet dubious mathematician, aggrieved mariners, exasperated lead miners, discontented parishioners, the famous Lady Eleanor Douglas, a prophetic soldier, a painter, and the remarkable the widow of a Bristol brewer, to name only a few - Cressy illuminates how this rich archive "invites close analysis of political, religious, cultural, epidemiological, urban and gendered contexts in the reign of Charles I."

The Early Modern Colloquium would like to thank the University of Michigan Center for European Studies, Department of English, Department of History, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, Institute for the Humanities, and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program for genersouly helping to sponsor this event.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15th-SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16th, 2013, TIME: PLEASE SEE SCHEDULE, LOCATION: 3222 ANGELL HALL. Conference: "Violence in the Early Modern Period." The keynote speakers for this event will be Professor Melissa Sanchez (English, University of Pennsylvania) and Professor Mitchell Merback (History of Art, Johns Hopkins University). This conference will explore the instances, effects, and functions of violence throughout sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. How we understand violence effectively informs how we understand other far-reaching phenomena in the period--e.g., colonization; performances of ability, class, gender, race, and sex; public entertainment; religious reformation(s); social discipline; and urbanization. Recent scholarship has evinced a renewed interest particularly in the dynamics between violence and power, and this conference will focus on a variety of related questions. When and where did violence serve the interests of hegemonic power? When and where did it thwart the interests of hegemonic power? How did violence shape identities, collectives, cultures? By whom or what was violence practiced and endured? And at what cost?

Please contact John Paul Hampstead ( or Amrita Dhar ( with any questions. The Early Modern Colloquium would like to thank the Rackham Graduate School, the Department of English, the Department of History, and the Institute for the Humanities for generously sponsoring this event.


TUESDAY, MARCH 26th, 2013, 1:00pm, 3154 ANGELL HALL. Please join us to workshop "The Lack of Charity in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene," a book chapter by Doug Trevor. Trevor is an associate professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. He currently holds a position as a University of Michigan Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities. His current book project is entitled "Radical Charity and the Long Reformation: Literature, Belief, and Transgressive forms of Love in Early Modern England." The chapter will be pre-circulated two weeks before the workshop. Please contact Leila Watkins ( if you would like to receive a copy of it.


FRIDAY, APRIL 5th, 2013, 2:00pm, 3154 ANGELL HALL. Please join the Early Modern Colloquium for "Shakespeare and Disability Subjectivities," a panel discussion with David Mitchell and Tobin Siebers.

David Mitchell is the 2012 Freehling Visiting Professor at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, and associate professor in the College of Education at Temple University.  His background and interests in American Cultural Studies include: U.S. literary history, U.S. minority cultures, representations of people with disabilities in film, media, literature and art, documentary film art, and youth subculture movements. His publications include 3 books: The Body and Physical Difference (1997); Narrative Prosthesis (2000); Cultural Locations of Disability (2006)], dozens of journal and review articles, four award-winning documentary films: Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back (1995); A World Without Bodies (2002); Self Preservation (2005); Disability Takes on the Arts(2006), and the five-volume Encyclopedia of Disability (2005).  David has also curated two international disability film festivals and an exhibition for the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum on disability history.  Currently, he is completing work on two new book-length manuscripts; the first, Ablenationalism and the Geo-Politics of Disability, analyses the developments of global disability culture under neoliberalism, and the second, The Capacities of Incapacity: Disability and the the Anti-Normative American Novel, examines shifts in liberal and neoliberal portrayals of people with disabilities in the wake of U.S. Civil Rights Movements.

Tobin Siebers is the V. L. Parrington Collegiate Professor at the Department of English, University of Michigan. His works focus on ethics, literary criticism of the cold-war era, aesthetics and the politics of identity, and disability studies. He has been a fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows and the John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation and a Visiting Scholar at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris.  His major publications include The Mirror of Medusa (California 1983), The Romantic Fantastic (Cornell 1984), The Ethics of Criticism (Cornell 1988), Morals and Stories (Columbia 1992), Cold War Criticism and the Politics of Skepticism (Oxford 1993), The Subject and Other Subjects: On Ethical, Aesthetic, and Political Identity (Michigan 1998), Among Men (Nebraska 1999), Disability Theory (Michigan 2008),  Zerbrochene Schönheit (Transcript 2008) and Disability Aesthetics (Michigan, forthcoming 2010). He is also the editor of Religion and the Authority of the Past (Michigan 1993), Heterotopia: Postmodern Utopia and the Body Politic (Michigan 1994), and The Body Aesthetic: From Fine Art to Body Modification (Michigan 2000). His recent work on disability studies has been published in American Literary History, Cultural Critique, Literature and Medicine, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Michigan Quarterly Review, PMLA, and the MLA volume on disability studies. He is currently at work on a consideration of Shakespeare within disability studies.

Please email Amrita Dhar at with any questions.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10th, 2013, 2:30pm, 3241 ANGELL HALL. (PLEASE NOTE: The location of this event has been changed from 3184 Angell Hall.) Please join the Early Modern Colloquium to workshop "Shakespeare's Sex," a book chapter by Valerie Traub. Valerie Traub is the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. A pre-circulated copy of the chapter is available on the Early Modern Colloquium's Ctools site (under the Resources folder). Please contact Leila Watkins ( to be added to the site.

Chapter Abstract:This paper—the final chapter of my book, Making Sexual Knowledge: Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns (forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Press)—uses the question of “Shakespeare’s sex” to explore the historicity of sexual knowledge.  Most Shakespeareans now agree that Shakespeare’s sonnets provide evidence of Shakespeare’s own sexual identity.   This lecture asks what this hard-won consensus entails for two questions:  the role of gender and feminism in criticism of the sonnets, and the role of sequence in the consideration of sexuality.  In light of Shakespeare’s “queer moment,” this chapter asks what these two questions might have to do with one another.  It seeks to demonstrate that the contingencies by which we come to “know” Shakespeare’s sexuality provide one avenue for ascertaining what it means to “know” sexuality, not only in the past, but in the present.


MONDAY, MAY 6th, 2013, 1:00pm, 3222 ANGELL HALL. The Department of English and Junior Faculty Forum will host a lecture, "The Future of Academic Publishing & Preparing Book Proposals," by Dr. Linda Bree, Cambridge University Press.

More information coming soon. Please check back in a week or two. Thank you!

For a listing of past EMC events, 1999-2012, please click here.

Events Around Campus:

Links to information about events around campus, including performances of early modern materials:

Institute for the Humanities - calendar of talks presented by the Institute.

University Productions - listing of the current season of drama, dance, opera and musical student performances.

University Musical Society - the UMS offers performances of various musical artists and groups.

University of Michigan Museum of Art - information about current and future exhibits at the museum.

Arts at the University of Michigan - university listing of art events.

Michigan Union Ticket Office - information on tickets for local events.

M-Live - offers a searchable database of events going on around Ann Arbor

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