Early Modern Post

The end of the beginning

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Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about where I am now, post-phd, pre-job, early career, whatever you want to call it. Post-phd can be a difficult time: you’ve spent the last few years on a single project, embedded in a community of like-minded people who just by their presence give what you’re doing real worth, and then, suddenly, you’re cut adrift, having to make huge decisions about where you want to go next. What makes that worse is that any decision you make is 100% dependent on someone else; I may decide what career I want to go into, but it is someone else who will give me the job (or not!).

I’m also moving away from my department, which makes the cut feel sharper. However, as my friend pointed out, I’m really lucky in that once you are part of CELL, or the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, you are always part of it. I think this is the real measure of a community; if they continue to embrace you after any ‘official’ connection has ended.

My life is following two streams at the moment: I am trying to get a job out in the real world, and I am continuing my association with CELL. The great thing about both doing the PhD and being an active member of an academic community is that it’s given me so many useful skills that range far beyond knowledge of sixteenth century politics; if an application form wants evidence of project management, team work and communication skills, a PhD provides it.

A concrete manifestation of this is the upcoming conference that myself and my CELL/QM colleagues are organising. I’ve mentioned this already in a previous post, but now – excitingly – the day’s schedule is settled, so I thought I would post it here too. If you want to come, please do – just register at http://permissivearchive.wordpress.com/registration/.

So it’s the end of the beginning of my career, and I can’t wait for the meat of the next step, wherever that ends up being. I also feel that the end of the beginning is an appropriate tag for the Permissive Archive conference itself. The title was chosen because we wanted people to think about what archival research permits, what archives make happen and what they limit. It was a question – what is the permissive archive? For a truly inspired visual representation of this question, see the excellent ‘Avoiding the Bears‘ blog by Kirsty Rolfe. I think that plenty of historians and literary scholars understand the point of archival research, and web 2.0/the digital humanities etc have increased access to primary sources hugely. But what’s the next step? What are we taking for granted and how does the way we access our sources and the archive affect our research? How does it affect the questions we ask and the narratives we write? Where do we go from here?

The Permissive Archive

*A CELL/Queen Mary initiative, to be held at UCL, 9th November*


8.30-9.15 – Registration, coffee and pastries

9.15-9.25 – Welcome and introductions

9.30-11.00 – Session 1

Panel 1. The Original Context: the Early Modern Archive

a)      ‘The Early Modern Archive and the After-Life of Letters’ – Elizabeth Williamson (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters)

b)      ‘The File and the Early Modern Letter’ – Christopher Burlinson (Jesus College, Cambridge)

c)       ‘Permissive Archives, Secret Archives: Producing Early Modern Historiography Between Courts, the Republic of Letters, and the Repositories of Writing’ – Markus Friedrich (Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main)

Chair: William Sherman (University of York)

Panel 2. The Digital Archive: Practice and Problems

a)      ‘“Liable to much fallacy”: Order and Disorders in an Eighteenth-Century Medical Archive’ – Jennifer Bann (University of Glasgow)

a)      ‘Visible Prices: Archiving the Intersection of Literature and Economics’ – Paige Morgan (University of Washington)

b)      ‘The Permissive Digital Archive’ – Samuli Kaislaniemi (University of Helsinki)

Chair: Jenni Thomas (Rothschild Archives)

11-11.25 – Coffees and teas

11.30-1.00 – Session 2

Panel 3. The Later Context: What the Victorians Did To Us

a)      ‘Cutting and Pasting in the Archive: the Caroline Revels Accounts’ – Eleanor Collins (Independent Scholar)

b)      ‘“To bring Antiquities, smothered and buried in dark silence, to light”: the Hakluyt Society, the India Office Records, and the Remaking of Colonial History’ – Pete Mitchell (Queen Mary, University of London)

c)       ‘Trapped in the Archives, Freed by a Camera: The Role of Digitization in Understanding Early Modern Women in Politics’ – Helen Graham-Matheson (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters)

Chair: Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary, University of London)

Panel 4. Listening to the Archive: Reconstructing Voices

a)      ‘Voices in the Archives: Socio-Stylistic Approaches to Sixteenth-Century Confessional Manuscripts’: Mel Evans (University of Birmingham)

b)      ‘The Letters of the Knyvett Sisters’: Gillian Weir (University of Glasgow)

c)       ‘Permitting an Intellectual Biography: the Archive of Robert Baillie (1602-1662)’: Alex Campbell (Trinity Hall, Cambridge)

Chair: Nadine Akkerman (Leiden University)

1-1.55 – Lunch

2-3.30 – Session 3

Panel 5. The Personal Archive: Shaping an Identity

a)      ‘The Archive as Mask: Looking Behind John Aubrey’s Donations to the Ashmolean Museum, 1692-1695’ – Kelsey Jackson Williams (Balliol College, Oxford)

b)      ‘A Discovery of Lister Ephemera’ – Anna Marie Roos (University of Oxford)

c)       ‘Writing Lives out of Registers and Registers out of Lives: ‘The Life of Dr Robert Hooke’ and the Royal Society Archive’ – Noah Moxham (University of East Anglia)

Chair: Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary, University of London)

Panel 6. Writing in the Marginalized: Gardeners, Widows and Common Soldiers

a)      ‘’’The Garden Books’; un-covering the gardens of Arbury Hall, Nuneaton, in Warwickshire from 1689 to 1703’ – Sally O’Halloran (University of Sheffield)

b)      ‘Widows at Law: Searching for ‘Sole Female Plaintiffs’ in The National Archives’ – Katy Mair (The National Archives)

c)       ‘Narratives of Old-Regime Common Soldiers – A Tip of an Iceberg’ – Ilya Berkovich (Peterhouse, Cambridge)

Chair: Hannah Crawforth (King’s College, London)

3.30-4.10 – Afternoon tea

4.15-5.45 – Session 4

Panel 7. Read All About It: Manuscript and Print

a)      ‘Joseph Mead and the ‘Battle of the Starlings”’ – Kirsty Rolfe (Queen Mary, University of London)

b)      ‘The Unsought Privacy of Zachary Boyd’s Dramatic Poems’ – Peter Auger (Merton College, Oxford)

c)       ‘Vellutello’s Petrarch and Tottel’s Wyatt: From MS to Print and Back’ – William Rossiter (Liverpool Hope University)

Chair: Joad Raymond (Queen Mary, University of London)

Panel 8. The Archive in Motion: Fugitive, Networked, and Reassembled Collections

a)      ‘Rethinking an Eighteenth- Century Archive: ‘Miss Bank’s Truly Interesting Collection of Visiting Cards and Co.’’

– Arlene Leis (University of York)

b)      ‘“Out of old bookes in good faith cometh al this new science that men lere”: Locating Provenance and Networks of Learning in the Books of the Chelsea Physic Garden, pre-1740’ – Sarah Broadhurst (Centre for Editing Lives and Letters)

c)       ‘An Exciting Rediscovery in Wiltshire: the Seymour of Berry Pomeroy Manuscripts’ – Ian Cooper (Plymouth University)

Chair: Alan Stewart (Columbia University, New York)

6-7.30 – Keynote lecture

Professor Lisa Jardine (University College, London)

A place at this lecture is automatic for those registered and attending the conference. Those not registered are strongly advised to contact thepermissivearchive@gmail.com to book a place.

7.30-9 – Reception

9-late – Knees-up


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