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Welcome to the Textual Ambassadors Research Network. We are investigating cultures of diplomacy and literary writing across the early modern world.

Texts played a crucial part in diplomatic practice between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Works of literature were sent as diplomatic gifts. Dramatic and poetic productions at court were invested with diplomatic meaning. Diplomats were writers, patrons and consumers of all kinds of literary works. As public and private figures, they moved books across borders. Embassies were sites of cultural exchange and literary texts – whether printed, manuscript or oral – became an important tool in what we now call cultural diplomacy. These ‘textual ambassadors’ were critical in communicating and mediating cultural difference both within Europe and between Europe and the wider world.

Our network aims to investigate these interlocking literary and diplomatic cultures through two workshops and one conference. It brings together experts in diplomatic history, literary criticism and theory, cultural studies, court studies, book history and ethnographic literature. This international and interdisciplinary network is organised by Tracey Sowerby (Oxford) and Joanna Craigwood (Cambridge).

Explore this website to read about our events, take a tour of our online exhibition, find out more about the members of the network, or learn more about the role of the spoken and written word in cultural diplomacy. Contact us with comments or to find out how to get involved.

This network is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council under its ‘translating cultures’ research theme (AH/K001930/1). Our Oxford events are also sponsored by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and our conference has received additional support from the Society for Renaissance Studies.