Transforming Early Modern Identities Conference 10/12/12 (NYC) & 10/27/12 (London); abstracts due 5/6/12

full name / name of organization: 
The Graduate Center, CUNY and London Shakespeare Centre, King's College London

This conference, hosted over two days in two cities, has a double focus. 'Transforming Early Modern Identities' will examine both how the concept of the early modern self is being transformed by recent scholarly works exploring early modern literature and culture, and also how the process of transformation itself was foundational to the ways in which early modern subject positions were negotiated. In the twenty-first century, we remain fascinated with notions of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century subjectivity. Whilst past conferences have focused on exploring specific strata of early modern selfhood – in terms of gender, sexuality, race or class – this conference will examine both the ways in which scholarly considerations of the early modern subject have changed in recent years, and also how times of transformation work to shape early modern identities.

Thus, the aims of this conference are twofold: to understand the ways in which early modern scholarship (historical and literary) has transformed our notion of early modern subjectivity in recent years; and to examine the ways in which transformation itself – and the in between times of selfhood it implies – played an important part in defining various early modern subject positions. How has the way scholars examine the early modern self changed in the last twenty years? How reliant are early modern individuals on moments of transformation?

We invite proposals for individual papers (20-25 minutes) on the theme of 'Transforming Early Modern Identities'. Possible topics may relate to (but are certainly not limited to) the following areas:

  • Changing scholarly approaches to early modern subjectivity
  • Material markers of identity and strata of self
  • Emotional revolution – affect theory and political identity
  • Timing the early modern self – temporality and subjectivity
  • Etymologies, translations, and transformations of meaning
  • Ovidian transformations
  • Either, neither, or  – beyond limitations of gender and sex
  • On paper – constructions of identity through diaries, memoirs, letters, and legal documents
  • Cultural geography and the transformation of space
  • Reworking the self – apprenticeships, education, and professional advancement
  • Growing pains – transitions from childhood to adolescence; adolescence to adulthood; and adulthood to retirement
  • Families we choose – changing kinship structures and the formation of social identity
  • Temporary identities – performance, manipulation, disguise, cross-dressing, uniform, costume
  • The unbound self – migration, social movement, pilgrimage, and quests
  • Marital transformations – marriage, divorce, widowhood
  • Physical transformations – pregnancy, disability, illness, aging, and the self
  • Textual transitions – the transformative power of print culture
  • Prophetic inspirations – reshaping the self through prophecy
  • Crossing the aisle – political and religious conversion
  • Proposals (max. 300 words) are welcome from both established scholars and postgraduates, and should be submitted via email at or via the conference website by 6 May 2012. Please specify whether you would like your paper considered for New York, London, or either. We very much look forward to receiving your proposal.