Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Coronation to Chari-Vari: The Many Uses of Ritual and Ceremony in the Early Modern World

A One Day Colloquium at Birkbeck, University of London
Friday 24 September, 2010
Call For Papers

As part of Birkbeck's thriving research culture, this event will bring together scholars to discuss the purpose and reception of ritual and ceremony in the early modern period. Professor Jeroen Duindam, Groningen University, will give a key-note address on Thursday evening, 23 September. Researchers from all disciplines are cordially invited to submit proposals for 25 minute papers for this colloquium in central London on 24 September 2010.

Early modern life was shaped by ritual and ceremony. These rites had many functions, such as marking time, denoting power, place and order, and defining the sacred. Ritual could provide a temporary release from the hierarchically ordered world or mark an attempt to assert and confirm social categories which were otherwise potentially unstable.

How do we define a ritual, and is this different from the early modern definition? How does ritual differ from ceremony? To what extent did rituals remain static despite their rapidly changing social, cultural and intellectual contexts? How, when, why, and by whom were ceremonies changed? Did contemporaries notice similarities between rites practised in disparate social or cultural contexts? How was the success or failure of a ceremony measured? Could ordinary people affect the performance of rituals which were practiced by the elite, and vice versa? Preference will be given to papers which tease out issues such as these and seek to engage afresh with the historiography.

We are interested in hearing about ritual in the broadest sense and from all areas of the early modern world, including the royal courts, the church, universities, corporations, fraternities, sororoties, and guilds, and everyday customs, both rural and urban, as well as special and exceptional occasions. Papers could address themes such as authority and subversion, order and disorder, reception and perception, and so draw attention to what degree rituals were formal or spontaneous, solemn or riotous, conservative or revolutionary.

Please send abstracts of 250 words maximum together with a brief CV to the organisers, Stephen Brogan and Anne Byrne, at Please send any other enquiries to this address too. The deadline for submission is 22 January 2010.


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