New British Studies Center Opens at Rutgers

Posted in resources, the 18th century in the news by Editor on September 27, 2010

As reported earlier this year by Fredda Sacharow in Rutgers Today. From the website of the new British Studies Center at Rutgers:

“What’s in a name?” Juliet famously asks in Shakespeare’s iconic tale of young love. For the Rutgers British Studies Center – nee the Rutgers British Studies Project – a name not only confers new, formal status, but also suggests that the state university is positioning itself to become a pre-eminent venue for interdisciplinary scholarship on topics from Beowulf to Tony Blair. Bolstered by a $407,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Rutgers British Studies Center symbolically opened its doors earlier this semester with programs designed to attract academics across multiple fields, including history, English, anthropology, art history, and political science.

“We want to be a destination for the region – scholars based in New York and Pennsylvania, for example, will say, ‘Okay, here’s a place where you can come and interact with others in your field and outside of it,’ ” says Alastair Bellany, director of the fledgling center and a professor of history in Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences. “We hope to start a high-quality conversation: There will be arguments, there will be debates, but the interaction will all be productive. Colleagues from other fields will help you fill in the gaps in your own knowledge.”

They began modestly in the fall of 2006, a small band of English and history professors divided by disciplines but united in their passion for all things British. Hoping to turn intermittent conversations over coffee into something more formal, they began scheduling faculty workshops, importing visiting scholars, and co-sponsoring daylong conferences under the auspices of what became known as the British Studies Project.

Then, a milestone: The inaugural public lecture, by John Brewer, drew a substantial audience in October 2007, including a healthy contingent of graduate students. The professor of history at Cal Tech and an influential modern historian of 18th-century British politics, society, and culture spoke on “Taste and Modernity: Sensibility and Spectacle in Late Georgian Britain” . . . .

The full article is available here»

Call for Papers: Conference on Florentine Patricians

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 27, 2010

A Forgotten World: Florentine Patricians as Patrons, Collectors, Cultural Brokers under Medici Rule (1530-1743)
University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 3-5 March 2011

Proposals due by 1 December 2010

This first international conference on the cultural habitus of Florentine patricians during the principate of the Medici originates from a research project at the University of Groningen, started in 2007 by prof.dr. H.Th. van Veen. The flourishing cultural life of the Florentine patricians during the principate of the Medici has either been forgotten or ignored for a long time. There has been little interest in patricians as commissioners of palaces, villas and chapels, as participants in academies and confraternities, and in patrician engagement in art, literature, theatre and music. In the twentieth century historians have systematically portrayed the patricians as sycophant courtiers, only interested in gaining noble titles and estates. The fact that reality was much more complex and dynamic, has become clear only in the last two decades. Through groundbreaking research in the field of socio-economic history, prosopography and political science, the image we have of the Florentine patrician is now changing, These studies show that patricians, as a group, were still holding on to most of the economic and institutional power they had obtained in the fifteenth century. The studies also show that patrician diplomatic missions played an important role in the arranging of marriages and foreign politics of the Medici. Remarkably, this historical revisionism is taken up by very few art historians, even though we now know that the contribution of patricians to the cultural dynamics of early modern Florence was highly significant.

The ambition of this conference is to discuss the cultural contribution of patricians to Florentine society and to approach it from an interdisciplinary perspective. The main question we will address is: how can we designate the dynamics, already observed in economical and political studies, in the cultural field? Other relevant questions are: how can we compare the cultural activities and ways of self-representation of the patricians, to those of the Medici? Did patricians facilitate or emulate the grand dukes? Or were they even seeking to rebel against them? Were the cultural objectives of the patricians homogeneous in character, or did they differ from one family to another? By stimulating the debate on an international level, we hope to shed more light on the nature and intentions of patrician art patronage and their collecting activities in this period. (more…)

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