Event—Center for Renaissance Studies

2021 Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference #NLGrad21


This annual graduate student conference, organized and run by advanced doctoral students, has become a premier opportunity for emerging scholars to present papers, participate in discussions, and develop collaborations across all fields of medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies. Participants from a wide variety of disciplines find a supportive and collegial forum for their work, meet future colleagues from other institutions and disciplines, and become familiar with the Newberry and its resources. In 2021, the conference will be held virtually in a seminar-style format.

See below for a complete conference schedule. The roundtable sessions are free and open to the public, but registration in advance is required. To register, complete this online registration form.


Rachel Carlisle, Florida State University
Charmaine Cordero, Claremont Graduate University
Maggie Heeschen, University of Minnesota
Paulina Leon, University of Chicago
Hayla May, Oklahoma State University
Matthew Mullin, University of Notre Dame
Elizabeth Neary, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Arianna Ray, Northwestern University
Pierpaolo Spagnolo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Krislyn Zhorne, Loyola University Chicago

Conference Schedule

Download a PDF of the full conference schedule here.

For biographies of all presenters, organizers, and staff, click here.

Monday, February 8

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 1: The World Beyond, Part 1
Moderator: Arianna Ray (Northwestern)

How do communities translate, transform, create, and question their place in the universe? This roundtable features a conversation about the circulation of scientific and spiritual knowledge across cultural and national spaces from China to Western Europe to what is now Mexico. Topics under discussion will include transnational and colonial exchange between Mesoamerican cosmology and Euro-Christian thought (Shannah Rose, NYU); the impact of astronomical images from China, India, and Southeast Asia on eighteenth-century French visual culture via Jesuit missionary movements (Jed Surio, Tulane); the impact of socio-scientific controversies in seventeenth-century Italy and in the U.S. today (Scott Bonham, Louisville); and the material and mystical structures of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Saint Bonaventure’s 1259 Itinerarium mentis in Deum (Guido Guerra, Notre Dame).

Scott Bonham (Louisville), “Galileo’s Trial: The Original Socio-Scientific Controversy as an Illustrative Case Study”
Guido Guerra (Notre Dame), “Mystical Structures, Numerology, and Experience in Bonaventure’s Itinerarium and Dante’s Commedia”
Shannah Rose (NYU), “Entangled Visions of the Mesoamerican Cosmos from the Codex Ríos”
Jed Surio (Tulane), “Cosmic Discourse: French Jesuit Scientists and the Voyage of Early Modern Astronomical Images”

1-1:50pm CST - Roundtable 2: Affective Spaces
Moderator: Hayla May (Oklahoma State)

Space impacts how people relate to, engage with, and feel about one another. This roundtable examines textual, financial, and sexual ecosystems of affective space and place across early modern Europe. Discussants will explore how the heterogeneous space of Seville affected early modern Spanish miscellany culture at a time when print was shifting how readers interacted with texts (Juan Fernando León, Northwestern); how the Down Survey of Ireland (1656-1658), the first comprehensive national land survey in Europe, influenced the financial and ecclesiastical aspects of English colonization in Ireland (Alexa McCall, Notre Dame); and how the queer space of the ocean transforms and disorients the boundaries of humanity in Shakespeare’s Pericles (Elijah Two Bears, Mississippi).

Juan Fernando León (Northwestern), "‘Strange and Wonderful Things’: The Cosmology of Pedro Mexía in the Silva de varia lección (1540–1551)"
Alexa McCall (Notre Dame), “The Down Survey of Ireland: Reformation, Colonization, and Finance”
Elijah Two Bears (Mississippi), “‘All scattered in the bottom of the sea’: Shakespeare’s Queer Ocean”

4-4:45pm CST - Virtual Coffee Hour and “Ask Me Anything” with Rebecca L. Fall (Program Manager, Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies)
**Registration for this session will be limited to 12 conference participants and organizers.**

Tuesday, February 9

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 3: The World Beyond, Part 2
Moderator: Krislyn Zhorne (Loyola University Chicago)

From the Devil to divine justice, self-destruction to the social creation, this roundtable considers how humans construct their relationship to supernatural power. Two of four discussants will examine the relationship between witchcraft and “bodies”: Imogen Knox (Warwick) will speak to the presence of sharp objects (e.g., pins, nails, knives, thorns) related to witchcraft cases as indicators of self-harming behavior; whereas Briana Wipf (Pittsburgh) will discuss using computational methods to analyze a corpus of early modern English witchcraft pamphlets and observe how the role of the Devil develops over time. Complementing these dark topics, two other speakers will discuss nature, divinity, and the order of creation: Iraboty Kazi (Western Ontario) will consider how Boccacio’s “Tale of Nastagio” uses supernatural elements to reconfigure and restore social order; while Hannah Martin-O’Brien (University of Illinois at Chicago) will assess how gardens in French history and literature call into question the distinction between human and godly creation.

Iraboty Kazi (Western Ontario), “The Heterotopic Forest and Re-ordering Society in the Tale of Nastagio”
Imogen Knox (Warwick), “Sharp objects, Self-harm and the Supernatural in Early Modern Britain”
Hannah Martin-O'Brien (University of Illinois at Chicago), “The Debate of Creation in the Gardens of Les Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon by Jean de La Fontaine”
Briana Wipf (Pittsburgh), “Using Digital Methods to Locate the Devil’s Role in a Witchcraft Pamphlet Corpus”

1-1:50pm CST - Roundtable 4: Stage and Literary Representations
Moderator: Matthew Mullin (Notre Dame)

To what extent might the stories told on stage and page impact social life? This roundtable brings together four speakers to discuss the relationship between theatrical representation and social order in early modern England and Spain, with a particular focus on gender, sexuality, ecocriticism, and posthumanism. Discussants will draw from their research on stage directions and anxiety about female agency and theatrical spectacle (Kyle Riper, Minnesota); the horizons of queer female love in English and Iberian women’s drama (Emily Vavra, UW Milwaukee); gendered bodies and revenge tragedy (Kayla Shea, Tennessee); and the instability of humanity in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (Emily Sharrett, Loyola).

Kyle Riper (Minnesota), “‘Like a mistress’: Stage Directions, Wealth, and Femininity in The Fair Maid of the West and The Siege of Rhodes”
Emily Sharrett (Loyola), “Foreign Setting, Foreign Politics: Exploring the Political and Ethical Significance of Nonhuman Bodies in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus”
Kayla Shea (Tennessee), “‘When thou were appareled in thy flesh’: Female Embodiment in The Revenger’s Tragedy”
Emily Vavra (UW Milwaukee), “Cross-dressing and Homoerotic Desire in Margaret Cavendish's Convent of Pleasure and María de Zayas's ‘Love for the Sake of Conquest’”

2-2:50pm CST - Career Conversation: Meet a Newberrian
Featuring: Mary Hale, Ph.D. (Assistant Director of Scholarly and Undergraduate Programs)
**Registration for this session will be limited to conference participants and organizers only.**

Wednesday, February 10

10-10:45am - Virtual Coffee Hour and “Ask Me Anything” with Lia Markey (Director, Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies)
**Registration for this session will be limited to 12 conference participants and organizers.**

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 5: Birthing, Protecting, Depending
Moderator: Paulina Leon (University of Chicago)

This roundtable brings together graduate students working across disciplines to discuss how gender, power, and racial hierarchies were reproduced or contested in the premodern world from Mesoamerica to Scandinavia. Discussants will make connections across research topics such as Maya and Black female resistance to (or reinforcement of) elite Spanish women’s power in seventeenth-century Spanish-American colonies (Hannah Abrahamson, Emory); the Biblical allegorization of eleventh-century military and political leader Countess Matilda of Tuscany (Emily Lovett, Western Michigan); the conceptual relationship between writing and reproduction in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Iberian literature (Heftzi Vazquez-Rodriguez, Cornell); and the possibilities of critical Indigenous feminist readings of Beowulf (Hyeree Ellis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Hannah Abrahamson (Emory), “Domestic Dependency: Servitude and Sin under the Spanish Mistress' Eye”
Hyeree Ellis (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), “The ‘Problem’ with Grendel’s Mother: Indigenous Sovereignty, Land Ownership, and the Native Mother in Beowulf”
Emily Lovett (Western Michigan), “The Allegorization of Countess Matilda of Tuscany as Deborah in Eleventh-Century Polemical Works”
Heftzi Vazquez-Rodriguez (Cornell), “Birthing as Rhetoric in Juan Manuel’s Tales of Count Lucanor and the Shrine Madonna”

1-1:50pm CST - Career Conversation: Meet a Newberrian
Featuring: Nick White (Digital Initiatives Web Developer and Librarian)
**Registration for this session will be limited to conference participants and organizers only.**

Thursday, February 11

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 6: Music, Math, and Messaging
Moderator: Charmaine Cordero (Claremont Graduate University)

What were the limits and possibilities of expression in the premodern world? This roundtable focuses on how people from Medieval and early modern England, to seventeenth-century Peru, to eighteenth-century Germany expressed meaning through varying media, artistic modes, and political channels. Topics under discussion will include cross-gender, transatlantic poetic exchange in the early modern Iberian world (Jorge Hernández-Lasa, UW Madison); song, genre, and gender in Shakespeare’s plays (Katherine Knowles, Michigan State); mathematics and musical thinking in early modern Germany (Melani Shahin, Chicago); and the role of messengers and imperial power in Le Morte d’Arthur (Philip Zaborowski, Iowa).

Jorge Hernández-Lasa (UW Madison), “The Spoken Presence: The Epistolary Exchange between Amarilis and Lope de Vega”
Katherine Knowles (Michigan State), “‘Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?’: The Mad and Melancholy Music of Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines”
Melani Shahin (Chicago), "Math as Rhetoric: Mathematical Thinking and the Formation of Authorial Identity in Eighteenth-Century German Music Theory"
Philip Zaborowski (Iowa), “Misdo No Messenger: Death and Delivery in the Alliterative Morte Arthure”

1-2pm CST - Keynote Conversation: Race and Pedagogy
Moderator: Rebecca L. Fall (Newberry)

Carissa M. Harris (Temple)
Nedda Mehdizadeh (UCLA)

**Registration for the keynote’s live Zoom session and Q&A will be limited to conference participants and organizers only. Other attendees may be able to view the keynote via YouTube.**

3-3:45pm - Virtual Coffee Hour and “Ask Me Anything” with Lia Markey (Director, Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies)
**Registration for this session will be limited to 12 conference participants and organizers.**

Friday, February 12

10-10:45am - Virtual Coffee Hour and “Ask Me Anything” with Christopher Fletcher (Assistant Director, Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies)
**Registration for this session will be limited to 12 conference participants and organizers.**

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 7: Intersecting Communities and Communicating
Moderator: Elizabeth Neary (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

This roundtable asks how communities are formed, and how the way we talk about communities affects what they do, whom they include, and whom they exclude. Speakers from museum studies, literary studies, and cultural studies will consider sociability and clubs in the Scottish Enlightenment (Anneliese Hardman, Florida State); how women interrogated their gendered position in the social order through the use of published “apologies” or defenses in eighteenth-century England (Bernadette Kelly, Wayne State); how readers formed interpretive communities through the translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in early modern Germany (Madeline Keyser, Indiana); and the intriguing intersection between the history of clonal plant propagation and social class formation in Shakespeare’s England (Alicia Pederson, Northwestern).

Anneliese Hardman (Florida State), “The Importance of Clubs and Societies to the Scottish Enlightenment’s Intellectual Culture”
Bernadette Kelly (Wayne State), “An Analysis of Mary Ann Wrighten’s Apology: Situating Early Modern Apologies”
Madeline Keyser (Indiana), “Ovid's Metamorphoses ‘Verteutscht’: Translating Ovid in Early Modern Germany”
Alicia Pederson (Northwestern), "The Greener Inhumanity of Grafting in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale"

1-1:50pm CST - Roundtable 8: The Power of the Sacred Image
Moderator: Pierpaolo Spagnolo (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

How do visual rhetoric and religious influence intersect to shape hierarchies of cultural power? This multidisciplinary roundtable brings together graduate scholars from literary studies, history, art history, and rhetoric/composition for a conversation about religion and representation in the premodern world. Topics under discussion will include the role that unofficial political actors played in Catholic diplomatic efforts in Protestant England (Caroline Fish, Purdue); comparative theological analyses of Byzantine icons and relics (Elizabeth Shuffield, Oklahoma State); and the social and spiritual reception of the Cross from antiquity through the early modern period (Eric Smothers, Miami).

Caroline Fish (Purdue), “‘Polypragmatic Papists’: The Pro-Catholic Activism of Constanza de Acuña and Diego de la Fuente, 1613-1619”
Elizabeth Shuffield (Oklahoma State), “Icons as Relics: A Theological Understanding”
Eric Smothers (Miami), “Sacred Rhetorics of the Cross: A History of Image/Object Circulation”

Saturday, February 13

12-12:50pm CST - Roundtable 9: Effected Spaces
Moderator: Margaret Heeschen (Minnesota)

This multidisciplinary roundtable, featuring researchers in history, art history, and German literature, focuses on transnational exchange and conflict from Western Europe to South Asia. Emphasizing the role of place and identity, discussants will draw from their research on the early expansion of Dutch trade routes into South Asia (Will Elgin, Miami); urban planning and military fortification in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe (Allison Marino, Texas); maritime trade and transnational exchange, as visualized in Vermeer’s 1669 The Geographer (Carolyn Nordengren, Kansas); and theatrical representations of Muslim-Christian conflict within the Holy Roman Empire (Andrew Schwenk, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Will Elgin (Miami), “Incentivising Exploration: Jan van Linschoten and the Itinerario”
Allison Marino (Texas), “Albrecht Dürer’s Exemplary City Plan: A Case Against Utopia”
Carolyn Nordengren (Kansas), “Context Clues: Vermeer’s The Geographer as Hydrographer”
Andrew Schwenk (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), “Georgians and Persians or Christians and Muslims? National and Religious Difference in Andreas Gryphius’s Catharina von Georgien”

1-1:50pm CST - Roundtable 10: Status and Sociopolitical Conflict
Moderator: Rachel Carlisle (Florida State)

This multidisciplinary roundtable brings together graduate students from the fields of art history, Italian studies, literary and cultural studies, and Spanish literature to discuss the relationship between images and power in the medieval and early modern periods. Building upon their examinations of marginal decoration in the 14th-century Barcelona Haggadah (Anna Cohen, Northwestern University), Machiavelli’s problematization of linear perspective (Beatrice Fazio, University of Chicago), and the rich wardrobes of English women (Alexa Parker, Illinois State University) and Margarita de Austria (Paula Plastić, UC Davis), speakers will consider how medieval and early modern individuals employed visual culture to construct identity, symbolize status, and challenge sociopolitical norms.

Anna Cohen (Northwestern), "Resistance in Reversals: Exploring the Marginal Decoration of the Barcelona Haggadah"
Beatrice Fazio (Chicago), "Linear Perspective and Cartographic Rationale Machiavelli between Visual Art and Consensus Politics"
Alexa Parker (Illinois State), “‘Adorned with Gold’: Women, Clothing, and Identity in Early Medieval England”
Paula Plastić (UC Davis), “Beyond the Brocade: Margarita de Austria and the Construction of a Royal Woman”