Working it Out: A Day of Numbers in Early Modern Writing
Keynes Library, Birkbeck College, University of London
Call for Papers
Early modern books are full of numbers, representing both practicality and mystery. This
multidisciplinary conference explores numbers in British early modern literature and textual
culture. How were numbers and numerical techniques used in drama, dance, and music? What
were the practical issues arising from printing numerical texts, and how were numbers
represented on the page? How were the index and the cross-reference created and used? To
what extent would an early modern audience recognize mathematical references in literary texts
and performance? Who would buy an arithmetic book and how might they use it?
Proposals for papers are invited on, but not confined to, the following subject areas:
- Ways of counting and things to count: inventories and accounts; time and tempo; feet
- Numbers in print: reference tables, logarithms, cross-referencing, indices.
- Books on arithmetic, double-entry book-keeping and merchants’ handbooks.
- Ciphering and deciphering.
- The use of zero and other mathematical symbols in literature and drama.
- Dance, music and other numerical art forms.
- Making a reckoning: performing numbers on stage.
- Numbers in the material text: ways of using numerical books, and their owners.
- Mystical numbers, kaballah, numerology.
- Mathematical methodologies; measuring, mapping and quantifying.
Confirmed speakers are:
- Stephen Clucas, Birkbeck College, London.
- Natasha Glaisyer, York.
- Emma Smith, Hertford College, Oxford.
- Adam Smyth, Birkbeck College, London.
We welcome proposals from researchers at all stages of their careers, working in departments of
Literature, History, History of Science, Art History, Education, Accounting and Finance, and other
relevant subject areas. Proposals for 20-minute papers should include an abstract of no more
than 250 words and a brief CV, and should be emailed to email@example.com. General
questions can be directed to the conference organisers, Rebecca Tomlin and Katherine Hunt, at
the same address. All abstracts must be received by 15 January 2013.
We are able to offer some contributions towards the travel costs of postgraduate participants
presenting at the conference. Please mention when submitting your abstract if you would like to
be considered for this.
The conference organisers are grateful for the generous support provided by the Society for
Renaissance Studies, the Royal Historical Society, the London Renaissance Seminar, and the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales Charitable Trusts.