Past Conferences

2012 Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction (FEEGI)

CEMH celebrated its 25th Anniversary on Thursday, April 19, 2012 with a keynote address, "On the Mar del Sur: Early Spanish Trade in Pacific South America," by Kris Lane, Frances V. Scholes Professor of Colonial Latin American History at Tulane University, at 7:30 p.m. in the James Ford Bell Library. The Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction (FEEGI) was held at the University of Minnesota April 20 and 21, 2012. Many panels at FEEGI meetings are organized thematically, often around oceanic paradigms, to encourage discussion about the ways in which world regions can be compared, contrasted, and connected. Please visit their website for more information about the conference. The program for the conference can be downloaded here.

2011 History with Chinese Characteristics: A Conference in Honor of Ted Farmer

In January 2011, Edward L. Farmer retired after 43 years of teaching at the University of Minnesota. To mark the event, a one-day mini-conference was held February 18–19, 2011, on the U of M Twin Cities campus.

2009 "Knowledge Production, Technology, and Cultural Change: Colloquium on the Digital Encyclopédie"

Faculty and graduate student workshop in conjunction with the ARTFL Encyclopedia Consortium: University of Chicago, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota.

First printed between 1751 and 1772, the French Encyclopédie is a portal that opens onto numerous 18th-century contexts, be they philosophical, socio-economic, scientific, political, medical or esthetic. In 1998 the University of Chicago developed an online text-searchable version of this text, as a part of their larger ARTFL project. This symposium was centered on research gathered from this digitized collection. Presenters included faculty and graduate students from the University of Minnesota, the University of Chicago, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

2009 Cuba and the Atlantic World: Celebrating 400 years of Espejo de paciencia

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese was pleased to host Cuba and the Atlantic World, a one-day symposium on the cultural production and transatlantic relations between Cuba, Africa, and Spain. The event aimed to examine the Cuban epic poem "Espejo de paciencia" and the works of authors from the Canary Islands, Spain, and Spanish America, emphasizing the relevance of transatlantic relations in the cultural production of the period. The ensuing discussions were a contribution to the current debate on the cultural significance of epic poetry, and to understand the process of cultural exchange between Spain and the Americas. The event was a part of the department’s Transatlantic Lecture Series, and was open to the public.

2008 Social History of the Sea in Early Modern Times

The Social History of the Sea conference focused on the social realities faced by early modern seafarers from all social classes, and on the coastal and land communities that were intimately linked to the world’s oceans. The participants brought a diversity of perspectives to bear upon this theme and explored the commonalities and differences in early modern maritime experiences around the globe. Papers covered geographical regions including the Atlantic World, India, Asia, and the Mediterranean, and participants came from disciplines as diverse as law, numismatics, literature, and history. Topics included slavery and the slave trade, maritime gender roles, ship hierarchy and disciplinary practices, and the reach or lack thereof of state apparatuses into open water.

2005 Shakespeare and the World

In spring of 2005, the CEMH once again held a series of themed workshops culminating in a two-day symposium. This year the topic was Shakespeare, and the event brought together scholars from several academic disciplines—comparative literature, history, English, French, Italian and Spanish—to discuss Shakespeare and his work in the context of the early modern world: both the world that produced him and the world that he helped to produce. Papers were presented on topics as wide-ranging as Shakespeare and the Atlantic sugar trade; race and colonialism; the presentation and representation of Jewish women in Shakespeare’s work; the coerced shaping of cultural identity, and the influence of Spanish literature on Shakespeare. The symposium also featured several roundtables where papers were discussed in comparative context. The event was sponsored by both the CEMH and the University of Minnesota’s English department.

Revisit this website or look for an announcement in an upcoming CEMH newsletter regarding the publication of work presented at this conference.

2004 Imperial Identity: Construction and Extension of Cultural Community in the Early Modern World

The focus of the Imperial Identities conference was to compare the cultural orientations of early modern empires around the world and to see how they promoted core values over the territories and populations they ruled. Special attention was paid to the "cultural imprint" of these imperial cultural systems which remain to varying degrees in the contemporary world. This four-day conference involved over two dozen presenters and featured papers which consisted of comparative overviews of two or more empires, programs of empire designed to rationalize and legitimate imperial projects, and local accounts of how imperial rule resonated with the cultural scene at the local level. Papers consisted of case studies of these themes from all portions of the early modern world.

2003 Religious Conflict and Accommodation in the Early Modern World

In spring of 2003, the CEMH held a series of themed workshops which culminated in this two-day symposium on religion in the early modern world. A volume inspired by this conference is planned as part of the Minnesota studies in early modern history.

2001 Conversion to Christianity: A Late Antique, Medieval, and Early Modern Phenomenon

This conference focused on conversions to Christianity as a phenomenon with wide cultural impact that recurred throughout the late antique, medieval, and early modern worlds. Panelists examined how this alteration occurred, and the manner in which archaeological, historical, and literary sources can be used to gain a better understanding of the conversion "moment" and its cultural impact on pre-modern societies. It was also a study of the comparative fate of non-Christians in what became Christian societies through this process of conversion. This three-day conference featured presentations on Christian conversion from a variety of pre-modern locales, including Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Results of this conference were published in Conversion to Christianity from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age: Considering the Process in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, the debut volume of the CEMH’s Minnesota Studies in Early Modern History.

1998 State Religion and Folk Belief in the Early Modern World

This conference examined the extent to which the early modern state could influence or impinge upon the religious beliefs and practices of its common people. Discussing this question allowed conference-goers to analyze the spectrum of possibilities for what early modern governments tried to achieve by regulating religious life, and to see how religious communities evolved in unpredictable directions, either in keeping with or in spite of official injunctions. This three-day conference included presentations from a variety of early modern locales, including China, Russia, and western Europe. Published results of the conference can be found in the CEMH volume Religion and the Early Modern State: Views from China, Russia, and the West, volume five of the Studies in Comparative Early Modern History published by Cambridge University Press.

1995 City Walls: Form, Function, and Meaning

The CEMH’s City Walls conference aimed at providing a global perspective for a global phenomenon: how "programs" of city wall building expressed diverse military threats, political capacities, and cultural norms; how walls once built structured urban life in unexpected ways, often promoting solidarity and sharpening social conflict at the same time; and how representations of cities as walled, heightening the sense of city as "strongly compact," have shaped the very idea of what it means to be a city. The results of this six-session, four-day conference were published in the CEMH volume City Walls: The Urban Enceinte in Global Perspective, the fourth volume of the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Early Modern History.

1990 Implicit Ethnographies: Encounters Between Europeans and Other Peoples in the Wake of Columbus

As Europeans and other peoples came into contact, each brought to those meetings understandings of themselves and other peoples which both influenced these encounters and were then modified by them. The Implicit Ethnographiesconference explored the historical significance of such encounters from a geographical and chronological comparison. Our common theme was the idea that one’s perception of the other is guided by a set of assumptions defining the parameters of culture—that is, an implicit ethnography. The four-day event was the second major conference sponsored by the CEMH, featuring over a dozen presentations by noted scholars. The results of this conference were presented in the CEMH volume Implicit Understandings: Observing, Reporting and Reflecting on the Encounters between Europeans and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era, published as the third volume of the Cambridge series Studies in Comparative Early Modern History.

1987 The Rise of Merchant Empires: Changing Patterns of Long-Distance Trade, 1350–1750

The first official conference hosted by the CEMH, The Rise of Merchant Empiresexamined the role of western European powers in shaping the world’s first global oceanic trade patterns during the early modern period. European dominance of the shipping lanes during this time was a prelude to the great age of European imperial power in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Looking back we can see that the pre-imperial age was in fact more an "age of partnership" or an "age of competition" when the West and Asia vied on even terms. This three-day conference featured seven sessions and many presentations from early modern scholars which examined these ideas from a variety of global perspectives, including trading empires from the late medieval period to the eighteenth century. The results of this influential conference were published in the first and second volumes of the Cambridge series Studies in Comparative Early Modern History: The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long Distance Trade in the Early Modern World 1350–1750, and The Political Economy of Merchant Empires: State Power and World Trade, 1350–1750.