Premodern Studies Seminar | Newberry

Premodern Studies Seminar

This seminar provides a forum for new approaches to classical, medieval, and early modern studies, allowing scholars from a range of disciplines to share works-in-progress with the broader community at the Center for Renaissance Studies. Our sessions feature discussion of a pre-circulated paper and a presentation of materials from the Newberry collections. We meet three times a year. Every meeting is free and open to the public, and participants are encouraged to attend as many seminars as they are able.

Organized by Timothy Crowley, Northern Illinois University; Megan Heffernan, DePaul University; Lydia Barnett, Northwestern University; and Christopher Fletcher, the Newberry.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 Premodern Studies Seminars will be held online via Zoom.

The theme of the 2020-2021 seminars is “Premodern Crises.” We aim to explore the many ways in which ancient, medieval, and early modern people responded to disruptive events of all kinds: epidemic, war, famine, mass migration and displacement, religious schisms, ecological catastrophe, popular revolt, the rise and fall of empires, and crises of political legitimacy. How were these crises experienced by different segments of premodern societies throughout the world? What do the official and private responses to moments of crisis tell us about the structures and workings of premodern institutions? What impact did these crises have on thought, belief, art, and society? What categories other than “crisis” did premodern people use in order to understand such events? Finally, what does it mean to do scholarship on premodern crises in these times of radical uncertainty? How has the present moment forced or invited you to re-examine approaches to engaging with the past through research and teaching?

If you have any questions about the seminar, please send an email to

Past Premodern Studies Seminars

Upcoming Events

Friday, February 19, 2021
Thank you for your interest. This seminar is now full. “Everyday Apocalypse: Middle English Literature and Climate Catastrophe,”Shannon Gayk, Indiana University
Friday, March 26, 2021
Thank you for your interest. This event has been postponed. “Epidemics and Epistemologies: Experiencing Illness in Colonial Yucatán,”Ryan Kashanipour, University of Arizona
Friday, June 4, 2021
“Quarantine in the Prague Ghetto: Plague and Public Health between Jews and Christians in an Early Modern City” Joshua Teplitsky, Stony Brook University