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Objects of Conversion/Objects of Emotion

Date: Tuesday 15 March 2016
Time: 10:00am-12pm
Venue: William Macmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts, The University of Melbourne, Parkville
Registration: Details here.
Enquiries: che‐melb‐admin@unimelb.edu.au

From their first entrance in, even to their final end, the lives of our early modern forebears were bound up with matter: with material, tangible, resonant things. Utensils made of wood and pewter, clothing designed from wool and silk, books formed of parchment and ultimately paper. Likewise, the materiality of human bodies, even in death, preoccupied the early modern psyche, as the ubiquity of the memento mori in Renaissance art and theatre attests and as church reliquaries, to this day, still demonstrate.

In this cross‐disciplinary workshop, Benjamin Schmidt and Paul Yachnin lead off a hands‐on examination of the emotional and conversional power of material objects. They will speak to particular objects of their research, and they will also interrogate the object‐subject relationship: how things are affective, and the effort early moderns made to affect things. 

Participants are invited to bring moving objects of their own, objects that might be resonant with early modern lives or with our present lives in a postmodern world. Together the members of the workshop will consider how seventeenth‐century and later objects, such as china, skulls, and many other things—mundane and sacred—shaped, moved, and even converted their bearers and users.

Also, with consent, participants will have the opportunity to have their object photographed and take part in a brief audio interview sharing its history, symbolism and importance after the workshop. Your moving work will become part of a digital archive that will be freely available to you following the event on the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions website. * If you are interested in participating in this activity, please email: penelope.lee@unimelb.edu.au to arrange scheduling.

Paul Yachnin is Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Among his publications are the books Stage‐Wrights and The Culture of Playgoing (with Anthony Dawson); editions of Richard II (with Dawson) and The Tempest; and six edited books, including Shakespeare’s World of Words and Forms of Association. His book‐in‐progress, Making Publics in Shakespeare’s Playhouse, is under contract with University of Edinburgh Press.

Benjamin Schmidt is the Giovanni & Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA). He is the author of Innocence Abroad: The Dutch Imagination and the New World (2001; 3rd ed. 2006), which won the Renaissance Society of America's Gordan Prize, awarded for the best book in Renaissance and Early Modern studies across all disciplines; and, most recently, Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (2015).

See also: The World of Conversion and the Conversion of the World: Shakespeare and China

Two linked presentations by Benjamin Schmidt and Paul Yachnin at The University of Melbourne.