Remembering James Petiver (1665-1718)

26th April 2018
The Linnean Society of London

Registration Now Open

Remembering James Petiver (1665-1718)

This day meeting marks the tercentenary of the death of James Petiver FRS, an important but often overlooked professional apothecary and compulsive natural historian in 18th-century London. Petiver made significant contributions to multiple fields of natural history, above all botany and entomology. An assiduous correspondent and collector, he successfully cultivated sources of natural historical intelligence and material from the Americas to the East Indies.

Speakers will assess Petiver’s life and legacy by deploying a range of historical and scientific disciplinary perspectives. On the 300th anniversary of his death, the meeting will set out to remember James Petiver:
  • as a practising natural historian of substantial abilities and merit
  • as a collector and cataloguer of natural historical specimens with enduring significance
  • as a writer of both manuscript correspondence and published natural historical texts
  • as an apothecary whose professional and private scientific interests mutually informed each other
  • as a social networker both within London and across the globe
  • as an historical figure whose legacy has been contested and which is ripe for reconsideration

Speakers: Dr Arnold Hunt, Dr Charles E Jarvis FLS, Sebestian Kroupa, Dr Alice Marples, Katrina Maydom, Professor Kathleen S Murphy, Dr Victoria Pickering, Professor Richard Vane-Wright FLS. Respondent: Dr Emma Spary.

Organisers: Richard Coulton, Charlie Jarvis

Dr Richard Coulton
Senior Lecturer in English
School of English and Drama
Queen Mary University of London

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CALL FOR PAPERS: Superstition and Magic in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

Princeton Medieval Studies Graduate Student Conference, April 20, 2018

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Michael Bailey

In an age when authorities attempt to assault our modern modes of critical thinking, the term “superstition” and its premodern associations take on rearranged values. Current political discourse denounces fake news and climate change as humbug with a zeal not unlike that of medieval and early modern establishments censuring false prophets and fallacious astrologers. Given these similarities, the classic narrative of a medieval society emerging into a modern one, “the disenchantment of the world” (Max Weber), urgently needs reappraisal. This conference proposes the examination of a wide range of evidence in various genres over time in order to foster this dialogue. In returning to the original meaning of “superstition” as an excessive fearfulness or belief, or a misapprehended and abused knowledge of a supernatural subject, how can we refine our understanding of superstition and magic in the premodern world? How can we make the overlaps between science, superstition, and magic productive?

We invite interdisciplinary submissions on diverse topics related to medieval and early modern superstition and magic. Some themes of the conference include, but are not limited to:
  • Control and influence exerted by the Church and universities
  • The historical development of demonology 
  • The Witch Crisis: gender and authority 
  • Elite vs. folk magic; paganism and popular religion
  • Heresy and superstition
  • Depiction of magical elements in literature and visual culture
  • The impact of various religious reform movements, including the Reformation and Counterreformation, on belief, magic, and ritual
  • Music and metaphysics 
  • Oaths, incantations, and spells: the power of words
  • Natural philosophy: astrology, alchemy, medical practices, etc.
  • Material history and archaeology 
  • Co-mingling of Eastern and Western traditions; book magic; Kabbalah
  • Esoteric belief systems and the rise of secret societies
  • The law: ordeals, witch-hunts, and policing of superstitious practices

In order to support participation by speakers from outside the northeastern United States, we are offering limited subsidies to help offset the cost of travel to Princeton. Financial assistance may not be available for every participant, with funding priority going to those who have the farthest to travel. Speakers will have the option of staying with a resident graduate student to defray their expenses.
Interested graduate students should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words to Sonja Andersen and Jonathan Martin at by February 15, 2018.

All applicants will be notified about their submissions by February 24, 2018. Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes.

MaRSA CALL FOR PAPERS: "In the Margins"

Medieval and Renaissance Student Association California State University, Long Beach 

Deadline for submissions:  February 6, 2018
Contact email:

The Medieval and Renaissance Student Association (MaRSA) of California State University, Long Beach is seeking individual papers as well as panel submissions for their graduate student conference. The conference will be held at the Karl Anatol Center on the campus of CSULB on April 19-20th, 2018.

This year’s theme, “In the Margins,” engages the spaces, both literal and theoretical, that have been allocated to the periphery of the medieval and Renaissance period. Thus, papers and topics that MaRSA would like to engage with embrace the many facets of medieval and Renaissance marginality. As an interdisciplinary conference, we welcome submissions from a wide array of disciplines focusing on the art, literature, and history of the period. Paper and panel topics might address issues (but are not limited to) the following:
  • The relationship between marginalia and text
  • Liminal spaces and/or identities in medieval and/or Renaissance narratives
  • Peripheral and/or non-literary medieval and Renaissance texts
  • The appropriation of medieval and Renaissance culture in contemporary political movements and/or popular culture
  • Educational and pedagogical approaches to the marginalization of medieval and Renaissance texts
  • The boundaries between body and soul as depicted in hagiographical literature and art
  • Depictions of alterity in Shakespeare and/or other Early Modern Drama
  • Sexuality and nontypical gender expression in medieval and Renaissance texts and/or culture

Presentations should run for approximately 15 minutes. Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words along with a current CV by email to by February 6, 2018.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Borderlines XXII: Sickness, Strife and Suffering

Queen’s University Belfast, 13-15th April 2018

Borderlines is an annual postgraduate conference in Medieval & Early Modern studies. Held on a rotating basis in Belfast, Dublin and Cork, we aim to bring together Medievalists and Early Modernists (at MA, PhD & postdoctoral level) in all disciplines from across Ireland, Britain and around the world. This page is designed to provide updates on the yearly conferences and to maintain the contacts and friendships they foster throughout the year.

We are pleased to invite abstract of ca. 250 words related to pain in the middle ages. Topics may include but are not limited to :
  • collective pain
  • depictions of pain
  • explanations of pain
  • judicial literature
  • medical literature
  • memory and pain
  • narratives of suffering
  • pain and creativity
  • pain and pleasure
  • psychological pain
  • social pain
  • religious literature
  • suffering in the afterlife

Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words, along with a short academic biography, to

The deadline for abstracts is 5th February 2018.

CALL FOR PAPERS: 'Locating the Ancient World in Early Modern Subversive Thought'

Newcastle University, 12th-14th April 2018

Dichotomies have long been used to define the intellectual developments of early modern Europe - reason and faith; authority and subversion; science and humanism; radicalism and tradition; heterodoxy and orthodoxy — with classical thought usually located on the side of tradition, a behemoth of learning which inhibited man’s reason and his ability to learn through observation. Such unilinear accounts of the progression to modernity have been subjected to increasingly numerous challenges in the last two decades, as scholars have sought to demonstrate that the ideas which drove Europe towards the Enlightenment were far more complex and multi-layered than suggested by the traditional narratives.

The aim of this conference is to expand on this revived appreciation of the classical influence in early modernity by looking specifically at the role played by the ancient world in that sphere from which it has most usually been excluded: subversive literature. The idea that the texts, philosophies, and exempla of the ancient world might have served as significant tools for those who sought to undermine and challenge political, religious and cultural authority stands in direct opposition to the traditional role assigned to the classics in this period. Emphasising an interdisciplinary approach, this conference will draw scholars together to build a coherent picture of how the classical tradition functioned as a tool for subversion, illuminating a previously neglected aspect of the ancient world in the early modern thought.

The keynote speakers will be Peter Harrison (University of Queensland) and Marianne Pade (Danish Academy at Rome).

We are inviting abstracts for papers of thirty minutes on topics including, but not limited to:

  • Ancient philosophical involvement in epistemological challenges to traditional understandings of knowledge and belief
  • Ancient theories of natural philosophy in the debates concerning God and the universe in both religion and science
  • The contribution of ancient texts to the arguments for natural religion, and against magic, miracles, and the supernatural
  • Classical rhetoric and literary forms as models for argumentation in subversive treatises, polemics, pamphlets, poetry, and other literary genres
  • Ancient religion in the construction of arguments in favour of toleration, and the establishment of a civil religion
  • The function of ancient examples in radical political ideologies, including republicanism, democracy, and theories of resistance and revolution
  • Classical scholarship as a tool for subversion, and print culture as a sphere facilitating this function of the classics

If you would like to offer a paper for the conference, please submit an abstract of 300 words to Katherine East by 9th February 2018.

See Locating Subversion for further information.

Katherine A. East
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
School of History, Classics, and Archaeology
Newcastle University

CALL FOR PAPERS: Science, Imagination and Wonder: Robert Grosseteste and His Legacy

The Ordered Universe Research Project in association with the International Grosseteste Society

Conference: 3-6 April, 2018, Pembroke College, University of Oxford
Website: Ordered Universe

Papers are invited (for oral or poster presentation) for this conference organised by the Ordered Universe Research Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK, and the International Grosseteste Society. An interdisciplinary project bringing together medieval specialists and modern scientists, the Ordered Universe project is dedicated to new editions and translation of the scientific works of Robert Grosseteste. The conference will be the Fourth International Grosseteste Conference.

The conference will celebrate the life and works of Grosseteste, especially in their response to natural phenomena. A principal aim of the conference is a confluence of disciplinary perspectives on this remarkable thinker. Submissions are welcome from all disciplines and from all career stages. Some suggested areas for subjects are listed below, but please be in touch with the organising committee to run ideas past us:
  • the legacy of Grosseteste’s thought in the later Middle Ages and beyond
  • Grosseteste’s predecessors and contemporaries
  • textual and editorial issues connected to medieval science
  • inter-textual issues across Grosseteste’s writings: pastoral, theological, scientific and literary
  • rendering medieval thought in images, diagrams and visualisation
  • the extended legacy of the themes Grosseteste raises:
    • the order inherent in creation
    • questions of morality and science
    • definitions of experience, experiment
    • attitudes towards authorities
    • education and pedagogic practice
  • relevant thematic issues in history of science and literature
  • modern scientific inspiration from medieval thinkers
  • the role of wonder and imagination in science, in the medieval and modern periods

Oral presentations should be of 20 minute length, and the organising committee will also consider applications for sessions of 3-4 papers with potential speakers identified. Posters should be in A0 portrait format (33.1 wide x 46.8 length in inches), to be displayed throughout the conference and at dedicated Poster Sessions where presenters will be available to discuss their work). In all cases please submit a 300 word abstract with a brief academic biography to: Ordered Universe

The closing date for paper or session submission titles will be 1st February 2018, but the earlier the better! Abstracts will be appraised and a decision made on a rolling basis upon submission.

Full details of the conference costs and booking arrangements will be published on the Ordered Universe website in due course. It is anticipated that arrangements will be made for publications from presentations but decisions will be made after the conference.