Call for Papers: Consuming Early Modernity – Graduate Early Modern Student Society Fourth Annual Symposium

Consuming Early Modernity

Graduate Early Modern Student Society Fourth Annual Symposium

Friday, April 17, 2020

Lowell Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Clare Crowston (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Call for Papers

Submission Deadline: Friday, January 31, 2020

The early modern world was an engine of consumption. The printing press nourished expanded reading publics. Transatlantic trade fueled burgeoning capitalist markets. Royal patronage underwrote new audiences for the arts. Though these cases represent extremely divergent forms of consumption, all tap into the pleasures – and perils – of amalgamating a foreign element into the self. Indeed, some of the fiercest early modern debates revolved around problems of consumption. When congregants took communion, did they really ingest the body of Christ? What political dangers were fomented in cafes, where everyday people drank exotic beverages while perusing broadsheets? How did the advent of an urban bourgeoisie armed with profit and buying-power threaten established social hierarchies? For early modern people, consumption simultaneously embodied instability and salvation, liberty and subjugation. It highlighted both the porosity of human boundaries and the potential freedom of self-fashioning. Whether purchasing potatoes or plays, pamphlets or plantations, early modern actors drove a global network of consumption that molded the material and ideological contours of their world.

The Graduate Early Modern Student Society (GEMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison invites papers exploring these issues to be presented at its fourth annual symposium. We seek to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue among graduate students interested in early modernity however defined. Possible areas of study include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Area Studies
  • Art and Art History
  • Communication Studies
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Film Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • History
  • Literature
  • Political Theory
  • Religious Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Theatre and Drama

We welcome submissions by graduate scholars from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and fellow universities. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide travel funding or accommodations for panelists. Presentations will be limited to 15-20 minutes and must be in English. Please email abstracts of 300 words or fewer, along with your name, academic department, and a brief biographical statement in PDF format to Alice Coulter Main ( The submission deadline is Friday, January 31, 2020.


For more information, visit the Facebook event page.