Early Modern Cities in Comparative Perspective (conference)

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For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a September 2012 conference organized by Patricia Fortini Brown (Princeton University), Palmira Brummett (Brown University), Kathleen Lynch (The Folger Institute), Karen Newman (Brown University), Lena Cowen Orlin (Georgetown University), and Mariët Westermann (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). The conference was held from September 27 to September 29, 2012.

How does the space of a city function as the figure or ground of scholarship, and what difference does it make? Folger Institute faculty weekend seminars on early modern cities have fostered scholarly investigations of the ways conceptualizations of space are changing the focus in research and teaching. This conference drew on localized expertise for comparative discussion. Invited speakers addressed assertions of exceptionalism and claims to a classical heritage; identify features and causes of notions of “organic” cultures; trace the routes of global commerce and cultural encounter; and account for agents of growth and decline. Complementing the Folger exhibition on Open City: London, 1500-1700, the conference began with a case study of London and its scientific communities by Deborah E. Harkness (University of Southern California). A plenary lecture anchored each of the four fields of investigation: Public ceremony and empire with Linda A. Curcio-Nagy (University of Nevada, Reno); Intellectual communities and the print trade with Anthony Grafton (Princeton University); Trade and the dynamics of growth and decline with Jan de Vries (University of California at Berkeley); and Cultural intermediaries and go-betweens with E. Natalie Rothman (University of Toronto). Counter examples to the plenaries were given by Barbara Wisch, B. Deniz Calis-Kural, Leah Chang, Matthew Brown, Bernadette Andrea, Christopher C. Ebert, Florence C. Hsia, and Faith E. Beasley.

Organizers: Patricia Fortini Brown (Princeton University), Palmira Brummett (Brown University), Kathleen Lynch (The Folger Institute), Karen Newman (Brown University), Lena Cowen Orlin (Georgetown University), and Mariët Westermann (The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation).