Periodization 2.0 (symposium)

Periodization 2.0

A Fall Weekend Symposium held on November 5-7, 2015

Description: This symposium will interrogate the intellectual consequences of the habits and practices of periodization. It seeks to push the discussion of periodization beyond first-wave debates (such as “Renaissance” versus “Early Modern”) to consider various modes of temporal organization. Scholars from a variety of disciplines will discuss how period categories function in their respective academic homes, and to consider how trans-disciplinary intellectual conversations are affected by diverse epistemologies of periodization. Sessions will explore the constructive intellectual framework that periodization provides to scholars, what historical study might look like without traditional period divisions, emergent models of temporal organization, the ways material culture allows scholars to rethink temporal categories, how period categories are deployed in the study of the fine arts, the notion of historical period in the context of literary forms, and, as a case study, to what extent Shakespeare’s plays themselves may shape notions of historical periodization.

Organizer: Kristen Poole is Professor of English at the University of Delaware. She is author of, most recently, Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare’s England: Spaces of Demonism, Divinity, and Drama (2011). Her current work focuses on the place of allegory in seventeenth-century scientific thought.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Welcome: Owen Williams (Folger Institute)

Plenary lecture: "Periodization and the Secular"

Ethan Shagan (History, University of California, Berkeley)

Chair: Kristen Poole

7:30-8:30 Reception

Friday, November 6, 2015


Session 1: “Reason Not the Need”

This panel will consider the intellectual value of working with historical periods. It will consider why such divisions, however construed, provide a necessary and constructive intellectual framework for examining the past.

Speakers: Tim Harris (History, Brown University); Steven Zwicker (English, Washington University in St. Louis)

Chair: Alice Dailey (English, Villanova University)


Session 2: “Untimely”

This panel will explore what historical study looks like without traditional period divisions. What does historical study look like without our familiar historical categories? What are emergent new models of temporal organization? Is it possible to study history without historical division?

Speakers: James Simpson (English, Harvard University); Ethan Shagan

Chair: Kristen Poole


Session 3: “Thing Time”

This panel will question how the study of material cultural makes us re-think temporal categories. How does the longevity – or the ephemerality – of material objects work with or against traditional period divisions? How does matter shape our understanding of time?

Speakers: Kate Giles (Archaeology, University of York); Natasha Korda (English, Wesleyan University)

Chair: Jeffrey Todd Knight (English, University of Washington)

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Session 4: “Period Aesthetics”

This panel will discuss how period categories are active in the study of the fine arts. While cultural history might have one particular relationship with periodization, do aesthetic/time categories like “Baroque,” “Mannerist,” “Metaphysical” continue to do a different type of intellectual work? How are such categories used in musicology, art history, poetics?

Speakers: Wendy Heller (Musicology, Princeton University); Keith Moxey (Art History, Columbia University); Gordon Teskey (English, Harvard University)

Chair: Lauren Shohet (English, Villanova University)


Session 5: “Forms and Time”

This panel considers what happens to the notion of historical period in the context of literary forms. How does the continuity of form across time complicate other political/regnal/social markers of historical period? Or, conversely, how might the introduction of new literary forms function as their own type of period markers?

Speakers: Heather Dubrow (English, Fordham University); Mihoko Suzuki (English, University of Miami)

Chair: Alan Stewart (English, Columbia University)


Session 6: “Shakestime”

This panel considers how Shakespeare and “Shakespeare” relate to historical period. How has “Shakespeare” come to define a period, or to defy period? To what extent did Shakespeare’s plays themselves shape our notions of historical period?

Speakers: Julian Yates (English, University of Delaware); Julia Reinhard Lupton (English, University of California, Irvine)

Chair: Douglas Bruster (English, University of Texas, Austin)


Final Moderated Discussion

Facilitators: David Wallace (English, University of Pennsylvania), Kristen Poole

Reception to follow