The Early Modern Circle is an informal, interdisciplinary seminar open to interested students, academics and researchers. The group meets at 6:15 pm, during semester, usually on the third Monday of the month. All seminars take place in William Macmahon Ball Theatre (Room 107), Old Arts



Semester 1 2020

Monday 24 February

Professor Evelyn Welch, Kings College London

Renaissance Wrinkles

In this talk, Evelyn Welch will discuss how something as simple as a wrinkle can lead to a deeper understanding of contemporary conceptions of the Renaissance body. Aging in early modern Europe meant losing your natural heat. As you got colder and drier, your flesh shrank and your skin sagged. This was as true of bark and apple peel as it was of men and women. But because aging was both universal and inevitable, its impact on the skin made ordinary Europeans into extraordinary everyday natural scientists. Wrinkles encouraged insights into how changes that occurred inside the body could be seen on its surfaces and complicates our understanding of their depiction in Renaissance art and material culture.

Professor Evelyn Welch is Provost and Senior Vice President for Arts & Sciences at King's College London. A graduate of Harvard and of the Warburg Institute, she has taught at the Universities of Essex, Birkbeck, Sussex (where she was the PVC Teaching & Learning) and Queen Mary, University of London, where she served as Dean of Arts and then as Vice-Principal for Research and International Affairs. She has led a range of major research programmes including The Material Renaissance (funded by the AHRC and the Getty Foundation), and Beyond Text: Performances, Sounds, Images, Objects (an AHRC strategic research programme 2005-2012). She now leads the Wellcome Trust funded research project, Renaissance Skin.

Monday 16 March

Dr Darius von Güttner, The University of Melbourne

“Born to rule men” - Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland

Bona (1494–1557) was the Sforza heir to the throne of Milan and Queen of Poland. She was a key figure in the politics and economic life of early modern Europe, an economic innovator and reformer, art and architectural patron. Significant extant source base about Bona’s activities allows for investigation into and interpretation of her actions as an agent of change. This paper will explore the life of one of the most important women in Italian and Central European politics during the sixteenth century who left a legacy of innovation and economic reform in her adopted country, Poland. I will examine Bona’s contribution to economic innovation to draw conclusions which will contribute to broadening of our understanding of the relationship between gender, economic innovation, authority and power.

Dr Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński is a Principal Research Fellow (Honorary), School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, the University of Melbourne and the Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK). He holds visiting professorship in History at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. His research and teaching concentrate on cultural aspects of religious warfare, transmission of ideas and identity. In recent years his interests have broadened through interdisciplinary research and teaching subjects which examine history from a global perspective. He is interested in aspects of world history which have drawn people together and the diversity of the human experience. Darius is the author of ‘Poland, Holy War, and the Piast Monarchy, 1100–1230’ (Brepols, 2014) and the editor of ‘Writing History in Medieval Poland’ (Brepols, 2017). 

Monday 20 April

Dr Finola Finn, Durham University

Translating historical research into new mediums: Making and reflecting on ‘Know thyself’


How can early modern ideas, emotions, and experiences be communicated effectively to wide, present-day audiences? As a historian, what are the benefits, and methodological implications, of translating research into the new medium of an art installation? This paper will consider these questions through the case study of my piece ‘Know thyself’, which was originally commissioned by the UK’s largest light festival, Lumiere, as part of their BRILLIANT scheme in 2017. Drawing on seventeenth-century imagery and beliefs, the installation asks whether our sense of self lies in the heart, head, or not in the body at all. Tracing my steps from research to concept to execution, this paper will reflect on the potential for installations to convey historical ideas, crystallise complex shifts, and bring our research to bear on contemporary audiences’ understandings of themselves and the world around them.


Finola Finn is an Honorary Research Fellow in History at Durham University, where she recently completed a PhD on melancholy and embodiment in nonconformist religious experience in England (1640-1700). She is currently co-developing a project on grief in the early modern period, in which she plans to continue to pursue the use of contemporary art in disseminating her research. Her installation, ‘Know thyself’, is now part of Durham University’s art collection and was most recently exhibited in the grounds of Blenheim Palace by Culture Creative in 2019-20.

Monday 18 May

Dr Charlotte Millar, University of Melbourne

Urban Ghosts: Space and Spectral Narratives in Early Modern London


Semester 2 2020

Monday 17 August

Dr Sarah Bendall, University of Melbourne

“Ffor whalebones to it”: The baleen trade and fashion in early modern Europe

Monday 21 September

Dr Matthew Champion, Australian Catholic University

The Sands of Time: Histories of the Medieval and Early Modern Hourglass

Monday 19 October

Professor Paul Salzman, La Trobe University

Private Books in Public Libraries

In 2017, John Emmerson’s extraordinary collection of early modern books, mostly but not entirely connected to the Civil War, was bequeathed to the State Library of Victoria. In this talk I will discuss the nature of the collection, but focus on what it means for a focused collection that has been in private hands to enter the public realm. How is scholarship changed by such a move, and how do libraries satisfy the conflicting demands of access and preservation of such collections. I will compare the impact of the Emmerson Collection with similar movements of private collection into other libraries, notably the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, The Folger Shakespeare Library, the Bodleian Library and the Library of University College, London.

Paul Salzman FAHA is an Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University. He has published widely in the fields of early modern women’s writing, editing, editorial theory, and literary history. His most recent book is Editors Construct the Renaissance Canon, 1825-1915 (Palgrave, 2018). He is currently working on a project about facsimiles, forgeries, and eighteenth and nineteenth century editing.


  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon