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Call for Papers: Early Modern Bodies Graduate Early Modern Student Society Third Annual Symposium

Early modern people were urgently concerned with bodies: human bodies, celestial bodies, divine bodies, administrative bodies… Problems of corporeality and cohesion shaped debates on every pressing subject, from salvation to the state. Looking backwards to the era of Erasmus and Elizabeth I, the printing press and the air-pump, the Reformation and the Age of Revolutions, we ask how bodies as a heuristic category can reframe our understanding of a signal moment in global history. How did early modern observers comprehend the raced, sexed, (dis)abled, mechanical, spiritual, sinning, or even transubstantiated body? Why were bodies such potent metaphors for large social groupings, such as the Church, nation, or empire? What bodies of work – literary, scientific, or polemical – propelled transformations in early modern thought? And what about the very word “body,” with its roots in the Latin “corpus” and its implications of physicality, boundedness, and volition, has so compelled people across the centuries?

The Graduate Early Modern Student Society (GEMSS) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison invites papers exploring these questions to be presented at its third annual symposium. They seek to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue among graduate students interested in early modernity however defined. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Art and Art History
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Film Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies

GEMSS welcomes submissions by graduate scholars from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the surrounding community, and fellow universities. Unfortunately, they will not be able to provide travel funding or accommodations. Presentations will be limited to 15-20 minutes and must be presented in English. Please email abstracts of 250 words or fewer, along with your name, academic department, and a brief biographical statement in PDF format to Alice Coulter Main ( The extended submission deadline is Friday, February 16.

Categories: Humanities