Evidence and the Early Modern Period (Feb. 18-19, 2011)

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Early Modern Colloquium/University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Call for Papers

Evidence and the Early Modern Period
A conference held by the Early Modern Colloquium
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
February 18-19, 2011

Keynote speakers: Mary Floyd-Wilson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Kathy Eden (Columbia University)

This conference will center on questions pertaining to the status of evidence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Participants are invited to investigate how early modern culture employed evidence in the (by no means wholly distinct) fields of art, demonology, history, law, literature, math, medicine, music, performance, philosophy, politics, religion, and science. The conference will explore the connections and distinctions between various types of evidence—e.g., aesthetic, empirical, humanistic, legal, medical, rationalistic, rhetorical, and scientific—deployed in the period. How did the use of evidence trouble or define the boundaries between fields? How did evidence appear in diverse genres? The conference will also attempt to delineate the systems of thought upon which various epistemological praxes were predicated and those, in turn, that these praxes sustained. Relatedly, it will evaluate relationships between evidence and authority. In summary, the conference will ask: How did early modern individuals and collectives know? In what terms—explicit or implicit—did they demarcate what there was to know?

Additionally, the conference will consider what counts as evidence in arguments waged by contemporary scholars of the early modern period. How might contemporary conceptions of evidence affect our approaches to understanding prior evidentiary protocols and regimes? How might a careful review of this evidence illuminate further issues at stake? We welcome submissions that address these or other questions related to this topic.

The Early Modern Colloquium is a graduate interdisciplinary group at the University of Michigan. It will give priority to abstracts submitted by graduate students. Please send 250-300 word proposals to Angela Heetderks, Leila Watkins, and Sarah Linwick at slinwick@umich.edu by December 10, 2010.