Public History at Hardwick

As regular readers of this blog will know, the Conversion Narratives team were delighted to welcome Hannah Hogan into our ranks during the spring term. Hannah has written a new blog post, reflecting on her experiences as an intern, working towards the ‘Virtue and Vice exhibition at Hardwick. You can read it over on the web pages for York’s Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past’.

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

Conversion Narratives at 10k

Cross-posted on the Conversion Narratives project website.

Last Friday, we welcomed (virtually) our ten thousandth visitor to this blog — a statistic we’re pretty pleased with given the shall-we-say ‘specialist’ nature of this site (now there’s a phrase designed to attract google hits!). We are delighted to be well on our way to our target of 20000 hits by the formal end of the project in September 2013. Most exciting, however, is the global range of our readership. Continue reading

A devil with a double voice: conversion and possession in early modern Provence

Along with the other members of the Conversion Narratives team, I’m currently in Washington, DC, preparing for the Renaissance Society of America Conference: a three-day event with a dizzying array of papers and panels. We’re lucky enough to be working in the wonderful Folger Shakespeare Library, whose slightly gloomy mock-Elizabethan interior makes the perfect setting for my discovery of a very peculiar story.

In 1613, a book was published in London, telling readers about The admirable historie of the possession and conversion of a Penitent woman. Seduced by a Magician that made her to become a Witch, and the Princes[s] of Sorcerers in the Country of Province [Provence]. The story is a striking one: an ambitious Priest called Lewes Gawfridi, living in Marseille, became a sorcerer thanks to some ill-advised leisure reading. Continue reading

Working in the British Library

With a project of this nature, where the focus is inevitably on early printed and manuscript sources, it’s inevitable that the project team finds themselves spending considerable time in research libraries. I spent part of the summer working from the British Library in London in order to look at a range of printed conversion narratives, from various editions of The Italian Convert (1608) translated by William Crashaw, to The English Spanish Pilgrime (1629) by James Wadsworth. Continue reading

Planning a conference — programme now online!

Cantino world map

Fragment from the Cantino world map

When we were planning this project, we decided that we would host two conferences, one on ‘Conversion Narratives in the Early Modern World’, and a second on ‘Conversion and Gender’. Our first conference will take place in June. Its aim is to bring together scholars from all over the world who are working on questions of conversion, both to create and reinforce networks between people with similar research interests, and to make sure that we are taking account of a genuinely global context in our own studies. The job of organising a conference can be a tricky one — we’ve been booking rooms, buying plane tickets, and scrutinising menus — and there can be problems along the way. The immensely popular York Races take place every year, but the timetable isn’t published until the end of the previous year, so we had already confirmed our dates by the time we found out that York will be full of people in suits and hats, enjoying the races but also booking up masses of city centre accommodation. Continue reading