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Silent Languages: Characters, Notes and Symbols in the Early Modern Period
London, April 2002


Birkbeck, University of London, 12-13 APRIL 2002

The idea of this conference is to explore the diverse uses and functions
of symbolic notation in the early modern period. Beginning with the
question of the emergence of algebraic notation against a background of
apparently 'unscientific' uses made of various kinds of symbolic notations
in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the conference organisers hope
that this conference will stimulate a debate about the nature of the
'sign' and the 'symbol' in the Renaissance. Bringing together papers on
algebra, Lullism, cryptography, universal languages, shorthand, the
cabala, emblems, musical notation and magical characters we will explore
the complex milieu in which symbolic notation emerged in the Renaissance
through a wide range of interdisciplinary papers.

Professor Michael Bath, (University of Strathclyde): 'Emblems as
Dr Patricia Brewerton (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Secret, swift and
short : the potential of Timothy Bright's "characterie"'.
Dr. Stephen Clucas, (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Meanings of early
modern notation'
Professor Thomas Ernst, (La Roche College): 'The cryptological foundations
of and influences on Trithemius's Steganographia.'
Dr J.V. Field, (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Algebra: from words to
Peter Forshaw (Birkbeck, University of London): 'Christian Cabala'
Dr Andrew Gordon (University of Aberdeen): '"If my sign could speak": the
language of visual signs in early modern London'.
Dr. Håkan Håkansson, (Lund University): 'Symbols of power: talismans,
rituals, and sacraments in early modern magic'
Dr Martin Ham (London) 'Sound and silence: symbolic techniques in
renaissance music'.
Dr. Thomas Leinkauf, (Munster University) 'Lullist Notation' .
Dr. Alan Stewart, (Reader, Birkbeck, University of London)  'Bacon's
Universal Languages'
Dr. Sue Wiseman (Reader, Birkbeck, University of London) 'The Natural
Language of the Hand'

For more information contact the conference organisers:

Dr Patricia Brewerton:
Dr Stephen Clucas:

Dr Stephen Clucas
School of English and Humanities,
Birkbeck College,
University of London,
Malet Street,
London, WC1E 7HX, UK.
Tel: +44-(0)20 7631 6075
Fax: +44-(0)20 7631 6072