Space, Place and Image in Early Modern English Literature

Country: Switzerland

City: Lausanne

Abstr. due: 19.09.2016

Dates: 11.03.17 — 13.05.17

Area Of Sciences: Arts; Cultural science;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: University of Lausanne


Expanding on our ongoing research project on the spatial and visual dimensions of the poetry and prose of John Donne, we are organising a conference seeking to investigate issues of ‘Space, Place and Image in Early Modern English Literature’ (c. 1500-1700). The conference will take place on the beautiful campus of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, on 11-13 May 2017.

In the wake of the recent visual and spatial turns in literary criticism, we would like to explore how revolutions in social, political and religious practice in the Renaissance have translated into new uses and understandings of space and images in the poetry and prose of the period. The Reformation implied a new geography of faith, a rearrangement of church space, as well as ambivalent attitudes towards visual arts and representations of the divine. Geographical exploration and colonial expansion redefined what had been until then relatively well-established frontiers, while a growing interest in land surveying increasingly focused on the layout and properties of the natural landscape. The political sphere of the court was clearly marked in contrast with other areas of urban and rural life in terms of place but also in terms personal and professional trajectories. Scientific discoveries distorted the shape and size of the known cosmos and, amidst these large-scale upheavals, questions of intimacy and selfhood became increasingly important as individuals distinguished public spaces from private spheres or more intimate communities. The expansion of print technology in the Renaissance revolutionized textual space, while new techniques in the visual arts, exemplified by the introduction of one-point perspective, similarly led to major developments in the way space was apprehended and pictured. Early modern authors were thus writing at a time in which spaces, places and images significantly evolved in the way they were scientifically and aesthetically recorded.

We welcome abstracts for 20 minute-papers addressing ways in which early modern English authors engage with the spatial and visual paradigms of their times. Potential subjects may include:

    geography, topography, and travel narratives
    cartography and astronomy
    natural landscape and urban environment
    sacred & profane spaces
    linear perspective & optics
    motion, dislocation and confinement
    visual arts & literary ekphrasis
    geocriticism and theories of space and place
    textual space and spatial deixis
    metaphorical representations of the divine
    preaching places and spaces

Conference Web-Site: