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Attending to Early Modern Women: Crossing Boundaries
College Park, MD, November 1997

Attending to Early Modern Women: Crossing Boundaries November 6-9, 1997 University of Maryland at College Park
Conference Description Attending to Early Modern Women: Crossing Boundaries is the third symposium on early modern women sponsored by the Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park. In 1994 Attending to Early Modern Women drew more than 400 participants. This conference will extend the work of the earlier symposia by widening the geographical boundaries and emphasizing diversity and the comparison of cultures. To these ends, the conference will examine the disciplinary conventions within which we work and the academic discourses that shape our analyses of women of that period and will seek new avenues of feminist inquiry and interdisciplinarity. Speakers represent the fields of history, art history, music, and many literatures; scholars from other disciplines are encouraged to participate. "Early Modern" will include the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Although this conference will focus on Europe, the conference can encompass other cultures as well. Our symposia depart from the established tradition of authoritative speakers and largely passive audiences. Each plenary is followed by related workshops that provide an opportunity for examining methodological, theoretical, and interpretative issues. Workshops are designed to convene scholars for discussion of common interests and concerns; for this reason, workshop facilitators are limited to a total of 20 minutes for their introductory presentations. Workshops can include no more than three facilitators, who must represent at least two disciplines or regions. Advance registration for workshops permits conveners to circulate readings prior to the conference in order to provide a foundation for discussion. Brief summaries of the workshop proceedings, prepared according to specific guidelines that we will provide, will be submitted with the symposium proceedings for publication. (For examples, see Attending to Women in Early Modern England, ed. Betty S. Travitsky and Adele F. Seeff, published by the University of Delaware Press, 1994.) Our keynote speaker for the conference will be Karen Newman, who specializes in English literature and European cultural studies. Plenaries, each featuring three speakers from different disciplines, are scheduled to allow ample time for discussion. Our four plenaries explore different aspects of "Crossing Boundaries": Body and Self (with speakers from Chinese Literature, French History, and Music); Law and Criminality (English Literature, European History, and Art History); Travel and Settlement (Spanish Colonial Literature, Spanish History, and English Literature); and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (Classics, Women's Studies, Northern European History, and English Literature). Organizing Committee: Susan Amussen (Hist.), Jane Donawerth (Engl.), Sheila ffolliott (Art Hist.), Joan Hartman (Engl.), Susan Jenson (Art Hist.), Eleanor Kerkham (Japan. Lit.), Carole Levin (Hist.), Margaret Mikesell (Engl.), Anne Lake Prescott (Engl.), Adele Seeff (Engl.), and Betty Travitsky (Engl.)
Attending to Early Modern Women: Crossing Boundaries Plenary Descriptions
Thursday, November 6, 1997 Plenary I: The Body and the Self Conceptions of the physiology and physicality of women influenced delineations of female self and female identity in the minds, texts, and images of early modern men and women. What were the theoretical boundaries between body and self for women, and how was the female self contained, shaped, and controlled through the gendering of the body? How did the early modern period imagine and represent physical virginity and the transition to sexual maturity? How did beauty or the lack of it affect the early modern female self? To what extent and in what ways were physical gestures gendered? Female virtues such as chastity and silence were seen as physical qualities. How did this formulation affect the concept of the self? How did ideas of the female body and self affect notions of maleness, dominance, and patriarchy? Were any parts of the body non-gendered for early modern cultures? How did such discrimination affect conceptions of self? How did such conceptions differ from one European country to the next, and between cultures? Friday, November 8, 1997 Plenary II: Law and Criminality If law may be said to mirror the norms of society (albeit a bit slowly), then justice in early modern society was not sex-blind, for early modern law was uneven in extending protections, assigning responsibilities, and meting out penalties to men and women. What can we extrapolate about the position of early modern women under law? Law was codified in many different, complex legal systems of early modern Europe--ecclesiastical and secular, civil and criminal. How were women treated differently in the legal processes from men? What were the differences both in their rights and their responsibilities? What protections were especially due women (such as plea of the belly) and what protections were they denied (such as benefit of the clergy)? What protections for women were, in fact, hindrances? What crimes were seen as particularly "female" and why? For example, why were so many more women than men convicted of witchcraft? How did stereotypes about women, such as beliefs about their sexuality and their shrewishness, cause some women to be prosecuted for what we might term social crimes? How did women's legal rights and the legal accusations against them vary from one European country to the next, and between cultures? Friday, November 8, 1997 Plenary III: Travel and Settlement Early modern women traveled--as nuns or preachers from Europe to the New World, as wives to colonies, as servants to find work, or as slaves without choice, and on pilgrimage in many cultures. Some traveled and returned home; others found new homes. Some traveled locally as part of their vocational rhythms or family responsibilities. Where, when, and how did women travel? How much of their travel was chosen, how much coerced? How did women experience travel? How did others experience women travelers? How did women--slaves, indentured servants, and free--sustain their cultural values when traveling to a completely new world? How were their cultures and values changed? How did they change others' cultures and values? Women also created imaginary worlds that countered the worlds they lived in. To what kinds of worlds did women imaginatively travel? How did these worlds relate to the worlds that men created and imagined, and to the worlds in which both men and women lived? Saturday, November 9, 1997 Plenary IV: Pedagogy Teaching about early modern women--encompassing the historical representation of women's roles, writings, art, or actions by and about women, and contemporary feminist theory--requires us to cross disciplinary boundaries. How can we incorporate the complexity of each discipline without oversimplification? How can we best include varying approaches to similar questions across disciplines? How can we use new technologies (such as electronic bulletin boards, on-line databases, and CD-Roms) for crossing disciplinary boundaries in our teaching? How can we take advantage of our students' differences in disciplinary approach and background? How does our interdisciplinary teaching vary from lower-level to upper-level college courses, or from the undergraduate to the graduate classroom? In the feminist classroom focused on early modern women, we also need to cross borders of race, sexuality, class, geography, and religion. How do we best teach these interrelated differences? How can we help students understand early modern regional differences in culture, laws, and social attitudes about women?. How can we benefit from our students' varied heritages as they learn about women far removed from them? Workshop Guidelines All workshops must provide a comparative or interdisciplinary focus. Workshops must be structured to provide a setting for open-ended discussion of questions or issues faced in studying women. Proposals for conventional conference sessions of three papers and a short question-and-answer period will not be accepted. Criteria for evaluating proposals: 1. Comparative or interdisciplinary focus: All proposals should address questions relevant to at least two disciplines or two national cultures. Similarly, the choice of workshop facilitators should reflect this interdisciplinary scope. 2. Form: 2 or 3 people should collaborate as workshop leaders. Their prepared presentations should be kept as short as possible, with a combined total of 20 minutes maximum. Workshops should be planned to foster discussion. Explain both the topic of discussion and how you plan to facilitate it. Besides brief presentations by the leaders, possibilities include advance circulation of readings, use of slides, or films (kept within the 20-minute maximum), small group, followed by whole-group discussion, or sequential response by all the workshop participants. 3. Originality: How is this workshop going to help us think in new ways about important issues? How is it going to raise new questions? Format for Proposals Preference will be given to workshops that consist of a full group of facilitators and are relevant to one of the plenary themes. We will consider individual submissions and attempt to combine them with related proposals only after we have reviewed and accepted group proposals. Graduate students, as well as more advanced scholars, are encouraged to submit proposals. Facilitators may not be involved in more than one workshop so that we may offer popular workshops more than once . All proposals, individual or group, must include the following: 1. Title 2. A brief summary of the focus of the proposal (2-3 sentences) 3. Name(s) and affiliations (institutional and disciplinary) of those involved 4. Phone numbers and addresses of a designated contact person (home, office, and summer) who will also be responsible for submitting the workshop summary after the conference 5. Workshop description, addressing the above criteria (1-2 pages). 6. Preliminary list of readings or other materials for prior circulation, if applicable. 5 copies of the proposal should be sent to: Dr. Susan Jenson Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies 0139 Taliaferro Hall University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742 Attention: Attending to Women ALL PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED BY November 15, 1996.