Narrative Conversions: a Workshop

ImageOn 2nd and 3rd June, we will be hosting a workshop on the theme of Narrative Conversions, organised in collaboration with the Early Modern Conversions project. We’ll be led in conversation by Warren Boutcher, Reader in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary; Bronwen Wilson, Professor of Art History at UEA; and Carla Zecher, Director of Renaissance Studies and Curator of Music at the Newberry Library. Discussions will range across narrative lines (both figurative and literal), tales of musical conversion, and the transformations of translation. Participants will also be invited to discuss a small selection of pre-circulated papers, and enjoy some rapid-fire presentations from current and recent doctoral students.

The workshop will conclude with a walking tour of York, exploring its early modern conversions, and a response from Professor John Sutton, Deputy Director of the Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University.

For more details or to apply to participate, please contact Helen Smith (helen.smith@york.ac.uk). For our formal Call for Papers, Continue reading

The New Christians of Spanish Naples

ImageWe are delighted to announce the publication of Peter Mazur’s new monograph, The New Christians of Spanish Naples, 1528-1671: A Fragile Elite. Peter’s book takes as its topic the teeming port city of Naples, under the control of Spain. Taking account of the effects of religious warfare and intolerance, Peter – a Research Fellow on the Conversion Narratives project – nonetheless reveals that the diverse population of Naples discovered surprising opportunities for co-existence and collaboration. Continue reading

An inlaid table, as you’ve never heard it before…

On 13th April 2013, visitors to the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall were in for a surpise…

‘Les Canards Chantants’, a talented quartet currently based in York, delighted visitors by singing ‘live’ from the Eglantine table, which is delicately inlaid with wooden sheet music. Visitors were amazed to ‘hear’ the table – some demanded an encore, and others wanted to know if the Canards could get a regular gig!

For me, it was a revelatory experience. Continue reading

‘Cultural Encounters’ lectures available online

Between January and March, we ran a series of public lectures at the York Medical Society Rooms in York, disseminating the results of our research, and the questions raised by the project. We were delighted to welcome a more-than-capacity audience, despite the snow (in March as well as January!). Those lectures are now available to watch online. We hope that you enjoy watching them, and welcome your questions and feedback.

Happy Birthday to the Bard

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday. To celebrate as Shakespeare would have liked, make sure you contemplate your own inevitable decline by listening to Izzy Isgate reading Sonnet 73. Simply click on the link below to listen.

Empty boughs at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire. (c) NTPL.

Empty boughs at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire. (c) NTPL.

Izzy’s recording is included on our ‘Virtue and Vice’ mobile app as part of our thematic exploration of the dissolution of the monasteries. We invited Izzy, a postgraduate student at York, and a talented singer/songwriter, to do the reading in order to reflect the northern roots of our exhibition and its protagonists.

You can read a transcript of the sonnet, along with my explanation, after the jump. Continue reading

How do you solve a problem like Hardwick?

ImageIt’s been a privilege to work with National Trust staff and volunteers for the ‘Virtue and Vice’ exhibition, and a real thrill to get the occasional peek into areas of the Hall that are usually closed to visitors – including the attics! But working in an Elizabethan house poses some unusual challenges, to put it mildly… Continue reading

What’s in a Name? Curating ‘Virtue and Vice’

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The first of the four rare painted hangings in the Hardwick Chapel which inspired our exhibition. ©NTPL/John Hammond.

On a visit to Hardwick in the summer of 2011, I encountered two striking textiles. One was a magnificent appliqué hanging depicting ‘Faith and his contrary, in the person of Mahomet’: something I had read about in the inventories Bess made of her three properties in 1601, but never seen. The other was a rare and important painted cloth which illustrates the conversion of St Paul: a theme beloved of artists across Europe during the Renaissance, but which I was surprised to find painted onto fabric in a household chapel. Between them, these two luxurious objects encapsulate many of the obsessions and events of the Elizabethan age. The connections and conversations they make possible inspired the ‘Virtue and Vice’ exhibition. Continue reading