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Rewiring the Renaissance: Cultural Networks and Information Technologies

As two of the leading international and interdisciplinary centres of excellence for Renaissance studies, Queen Mary and Warwick offer a unique and exciting opportunity to strengthen the existing expertise and collaborative links between the two institutions. The research interests of the two respective Renaissance groups are wide-ranging and interdisciplinary in focus. In pooling their combined intellectual resources, this project will explore modes of communication and networking in the Renaissance period, from letter writing to orality, and develop IT-led modern mechanisms which can capture and analyse the Renaissance communities that are constructed.

Directed by Professor Lisa Jardine (of QM’s Centre for Editing Lives and Letters - CELL) and Dr Penny Roberts (of Warwick’s Centre for the Study of the Renaissance - CSR), the primary aim of this project is to combine archival and library-based scholarship of the Renaissance period (broadly defined as c.1300-1800) with the exploration of new modes of communication in the present. Its goal is to facilitate case studies in transfers of knowledge between European cultural, political and commercial circles and, ultimately, to disseminate this output via the QM CELL website and Warwick Early Modern Forum to a wider audience.

Queen Mary and Warwick provide excellent environments for independent postdoctoral research. They have extensive expertise in the Renaissance period in literature and theatre – primarily English, French and Italian - as well as History and History of Art, with many active researchers in all these disciplines including a dynamic doctoral and postdoctoral cohort. Both institutions have enhanced infrastructures for archival skills and research training, specifically in ancient and modern European languages, palaeography, translation, the interpretation and presentation of texts and images, digitisation and the compilation of databases (often with external funding, for example from the Leverhulme Trust and the AHRC). They also have a number of recent and current externally-funded major research projects, often in collaboration with other high-profile institutions, such as the Warburg Institute, Princeton University, and the universities of Leiden and Utrecht. These include the study of Vernacular Aristotelianism (AHRC), and of Renaissance Cultural Crossroads (Leverhulme), editions of the works of James Shirley (AHRC) and John Nichols, online editions of the Robert Hooke ‘folio’, correspondence of William Herle and Thomas Bodley, and an interactive online edition of works of Gabriel Harvey.

Between them, the two Centres also have an impressive range of established international collaborations, with active links with academic institutions including Bonn, Boston, Chicago (as part of the Newberry Library Consortium of Renaissance Centers), Princeton, Florence, the Hague, the Huntington Library, Leiden, Leuven, Paris, Tours, Utrecht, Vanderbilt, Venice, and Yale. They also have affiliation to the Renaissance Society of America and the Fédération internationale des Sociétés et Instituts pour l’Etude de la Renaissance. In addition, vital to their increasing public outreach and engagement role, the Centres have formed strong associations with high-profile non-university-sector institutions, such as the British Library, the Royal Society, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Shakespeare Institute (Stratford-upon-Avon), the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Gallery and the National Trust.

The two new research fellows will collaborate in co-ordinating joint workshops and reinforcing collaboration between the two Centres at Queen Mary and at Warwick. The Warwick based fellow will co-ordinate language based activities for the collaboration, sustaining the connections between European partners and the two sites of the project’s activities, as well as providing the linguistic components for the public engagement aspects of the project.

Informal enquiries may be directed to: Dr Penny Roberts