Past Conferences

The Centre for Reformation and Early Modern Studies is the focus for a broad range of conferences, workshops and symposia organised by CREMS staff, and attended by academics and postgraduates from across the UK and around the world. 

The University of Birmingham is the perfect location for academic conferences, and is easily accessible by road, rail and air. CREMS events take place across a range of venues, from the vibrant Edgbaston campus to the idyllic Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Past conferences


Sociability in Early Modern Britain, c.1500-1700: Who? Where? When? Why?

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Date & Venue: 4th July 2019, University of Birmingham

Keynote Speaker: Professor Phil Withington

In recent years, scholars have identified the concept of sociability as a fruitful avenue of research. Indeed, the practices of sociability were central to the functioning of early modern society, whether this was in elite, middling, or popular company; as a man or woman; at the royal court or an alehouse; or as a Protestant or Catholic. This conference aims to explore more broadly the character and the motives behind diverse forms of sociability, its mechanisms and spaces, and the contexts in which they emerged. To what extent did sociability change during a period that witnessed significant economic, political, religious, and social upheaval?

Fantastic Beasts: The Beast Within. The Beast Without. The Beast Beyond.

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Date & Venue: 2nd July 2018, University of Birmingham

This interdisciplinary conference addressed the question of what it meant to be a beast in the Early Modern Period, where beastiality could be located, and whether or not humans could be classified as beasts. Drawing upon beasts real and imagined, animal and human, within and without, this one day conference sought to understand the beasts which pervaded Early Modern life, culture, and imagination.

After Iconophobia? Patrick Collinson's 'From Iconoclasm to Iconophobia', Thirty Years On


Date & Venue: 2-3 July 2015, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Tara Hamling and Jonathan Willis

In 1985, Patrick Collinson delivered the Sternton lecture on the topic 'From Iconoclasm to Iconophobia: the Cultural Impact of the Second English Reformation.' Thiry years on, this essay (published in 1986) has gone on to shape a generation of scholarly enquiry into the impact of religion on culture, and of culture on religion, in post-reformation England.  Scholars have accepted, rejected, and modified Collinson's arguments, but one way or another they continue to exert a powerful influence over reformation studies.

The thirtieth anniversary therefore seems a timely point to take stock and re-examine Collinson's initial thesis, as well as flagging up some of the new directions that study of the areas explored in his lecture (religious drama, songs and ballads, and pictorial art) is taking.  What is the current consensus regarding 'iconoclasm', 'iconophobia', 'the second English reformation', and the relationship between them?  This two-day workshop will consider the legacy of this seminal article, as well as exploring the most exciting present and future trends in this field.

Cultural Production in the Early Modern Household

Date & Venue: 28 June 2014, Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Hugh Adlington and Tom Lockwood

The aim of this colloquium was to bring literary scholars and cultural historians together to explore the wealth of different forms of cultural production – decorative, literary, visual and devotional, among others – taking place in different kinds of early modern household.  The one-day colloquium comprised three panels.  The first focussed on visual arts and material culture in early modern households. The second featured case studies of cultural production in households of the nobility. The third focussed on cultural production in ambassadorial households. The concluding paper explored the important yet often hidden roles played by women in early modern diplomacy.  Speakers included Dr Nadine Akkerman (Leiden); Dr Tara Hamling (Birmingham); Professor Andrew Morrall (Bard College); and Dr Mark Netzloff (Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

The Early Modern Career

Date & Venue: 2 May 2014, Winterborne House, Edgbaston Campus

Organisers: Tara Hamling and Tom Lockwood

Part-conference, part-workshop, part-networking event, ‘The Early Modern Career’ (funded by a British Academy grant) combined an examination of what it meant to pursue a career in the early modern period, with an exploration of what it means to pursue a career in early modern studies in academia today.  There were a mixture of short papers and discussions from members of the 'Midlands3Cities' institutions, as well as a keynote address from Professor Gordon Campbell (FBA).

Sin and Salvation in Reformation England

Date & Venue: 26-28 June 2013; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organiser: Jonathan Willis

A major international and interdisciplinary conference, funded in part by the Leverhulme Trust, exploring some of the transformations and permutations which the concepts of sin and salvation underwent over the course of the Reformation in England, as well as the practical consequences of these changes as lived.  The conference featured keynote addresses from Dr Arnold Hunt, Professor Alec Ryrie and Professor Alexandra Walsham, as well as more than twenty shorter papers from participants from the UK, EU, USA, Canada and Australia.  An edited volume of essays arising from the conference is in preparation.

New Directions in Catholic Reformation Research

Date & Venue: Saturday 9 June 2012; Arts Building, Edgbaston Campus

Organisers: Elaine Fulton and Simone Laqua-O'Donnell

A one-day colloquium reflecting on recent developments, discussing emerging trends and presenting new thoughts on early modern Catholicism in all its guises.  More than a dozen participants gave short presentations regarding their research, including: Liz Tingle, Mary Laven, Silvia Evangelisti, Katy Gibbons, Jonathan Willis, and Margaret Small.

Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England

Date & Venue: Saturday 18 June 2011; The Birmingham and Midland Institute

Organiser: Jill Francis

A one-day colloquium hosted by the Early Modern Gardens in Perspective Research Network, in conjunction with the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Trinity College Dublin.  Speakers included: Dianne Barr, Anna Keay, Paula Henderson, Celia Downie, Donna Canada-Smith, Jill Francis, David Marsh and Sarah Alyn Stacey

The Cultural Agency of Chaplains in Early Modern Britain

Date & Venue: Saturday 26 June 2010; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood, Gillian Wright

A one-day colloquium exploring the important, but often hidden, contributions made by chaplains of the nobility and gentry to early modern culture. Speakers included: David Crankshaw, Kenneth Fincham, William Gibson, Tom Lockwood, Erica Longfellow, Mary Morrissey, and Angus Vine.

Crossing the Channel: England and the Continent in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries

Date & Venue: Friday 26 June 2009; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Margaret Small and Alexandra Gajda

A one-day colloquium exploring intellectual, diplomatic and cultural links between England and continental Europe.  Speakers included: Raphael Hallett, Catherine Fletcher, Catherine Gibbons, Sarah Mortimer, Toby Osborne, Aysha Pollnitz, Astrid Stilma, Tracey Sowerby.

Religion and Violence in Early Modern France: The Work of Natalie Zemon Davis

Date & Venue: Saturday 28 June 2008; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Graeme Murdock, Penny Roberts (Warwick), Andrew Spicer (Oxford Brookes) and Andrew Pettegree (St Andrews)

Speaker at the Religion and Violence in Early Modern France: The Work of Natalie Zemon Davis conferenceA one-day conference celebrating the work of Professor Natalie Zemon Davis, on the occasion of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the publication of her seminal article 'The Rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth Century France', organised jointly by CREMS and the universities of Warwick, Oxford Brookes and St Andrews.  Professor Davis herself spoke on the genesis and context of her article, and other speakers included: Mack Holt, Philip Benedict, Mark Greengrass, Stuart Carroll.  The conference has resulted in a special supplementary edition of Past and Present (click here to view the table of contents).

'La France Outremer': Expeditions, Encounters, and Exchanges

Date & Venue: Saturday 7 July 2007; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon 

Organisers: Graeme Murdock and Penny Roberts (Warwick)

A one-day conference organised jointly between CREMS and Warwick University, exploring the experience of the French overseas during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During this period of early colonial ventures and missionary endeavours there was a fluid and competitive situation for the advancement of European interests overseas. France is often viewed as having lagged behind other European powers in exploiting these opportunities. One of the main concerns of this workshop was to interrogate this perception through a series of case studies and in a variety of geographical contexts.

Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and Its Meanings

Date & Venue: 27-30 June 2007; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organisers: Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson

Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson (eds), Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings (Ashgate, 2010).A major international and interdisciplinary conference that brought together academics working in humanities disciplines, museum professionals and conservators to discuss current research in the field of material culture studies. Around forty participants gave papers on subjects as diverse as clothing, ritual, pottery and music.  Plenary lectures were delivered by John Styles and David Gaimster.  The conference resulted in an edited collection, published in 2010:

Tara Hamling and Catherine Richardson (eds), Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings (Ashgate, 2010).

Urban Life in Early Modern France

Date & Venue: 10 June 2006; The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon

Organiser: Graeme Murdock

This workshop explored current research on urban life in early modern France, focussing in particular on the second half of the sixteenth century, and on themes including governance and authority, religious life and confessional identities, and gender and society. Speakers included: Robin Briggs, Kevin Gould, Ray Mentzer, Eric Nelson, Wendy Perkins, Penny Roberts, Andrew Spicer and Liz Tingle.