CFP: [Renaissance] Self-Fashioning and Community in the Early Modern University

full name / name of organization: 
Crawford Gribben
contact email: 

Self-Fashioning and Community in the Early Modern University, 1500-1700.

Workshop at Trinity College Dublin, 14-15 May 2009.

The notion that university academics recognised themselves as a distinct
social category in the early modern period is one that has typically
received a cautious response from historians. This is in large part a
consequence of a general lacuna in existing scholarship on questions of
academic social identity. In recent years, however, scholars
investigating various facets of early modern academic culture have begun
to fill this gap. New research presents much evidence of an increased
self-consciousness among university scholars during this period and an
awareness of academic social distinction and difference. This growth in
academic self-consciousness coincides with the rise in the importance of
the university within the confessional state. In the Holy Roman Empire,
for example, the frequency of university foundation increased
considerably in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a sign of the
perceived and actual utility of such institutions. Inevitably, this new
prominence resulted in a dispensation of agency to those responsible the
university’s operation, namely the professoriate (loosely defined).

This increase in institutional power was no doubt an important factor in
affecting a change in the social disposition and self-perception of
university academics. Professorial social networking in this period, for
example, has been found to reveal efforts to consolidate distinctly
academic social power, reflecting a high level of self-recognition.
Certainly, during this period a significant increase in representational
output from universities is evident. Academic self-characterisations are
ubiquitous in this output which has a wide formal range from the
ceremonial to the architectural, from printed pamphlets to funeral
monuments. It will be the purpose of this workshop to explore these
representational practices. In particular, participants will be asked to
consider the relationship between the fashioning of individual scholarly
identities, representations of an academic social category and the
generation of university-based academic communities in this period.
Papers presented at the workshop should be revised subsequently for the
purposes of publication in an edited volume.

Proposals for papers on relevant topics are now being sought. Interested
scholars should submit an abstract of c. 400 words to Dr Richard Kirwan
( by 9th February 2009.

The workshop is being organised by Dr Richard Kirwan of NUI, Maynooth
( and Dr Crawford Gribben of Trinity College
Dublin ( The workshop is being sponsored by the
arts and humanities research institute for Trinity College Dublin, the
Long Room Hub, and is held in association with the International
Commission for the History of Universities.

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Received on Mon Jan 05 2009 - 06:03:17 EST