Workshop 2: Theories and Methods

Location: Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge.  Dates: 14-15 April 2014

The aim of this two-day workshop was to develop and assess methods of analysis and  theoretical approaches for future research on intersections of literature and diplomacy.

For the programme see here. For a report on our findings download our Textual Ambassadors Workshop Two Summary.

The workshop focused on how best to approach research in the three related areas under investigation by this network: the impact of changes in the literary sphere on diplomatic culture; the role of texts in diplomacy and diplomatic practice, particularly those that operated as ‘textual ambassadors’; and the impact of changes in diplomatic practice on literary production. Building on research priorities identified at workshop one and online, it  used discussion around early modern examples to ask:

  • What aspects of this field require new analytical methods or fuller understanding?
  • What are the benefits and shortcomings of existing analytical and theoretical models and how might these be developed in profitable directions?
  • How can we effectively utilise applicable methodological or theoretical paradigms from other research fields?
  • What can our new methodological and theoretical models add to our understanding of the relationship between literature and diplomacy?
  • How should we further refine the innovative, interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches that we are trialling?
  • What does each discipline bring to the field that is unique, and how can these contributions be combined to offer new insights not possible from just one of these disciplinary perspectives?
  • What more do we need? How might we begin to construct entirely new models for thinking about literature and diplomacy?

The format of the workshop was designed to support innovative thought and the informal and experimental exchange of ideas surrounding the questions set out above. The heart of the workshop comprised a combination of short (10-minute) stimulus papers given by participants and roundtable discussions of short extracts from early modern texts presented by participants. The papers were thought-pieces trialling approaches to early modern literature and diplomacy rather than expositions of completed research and were also followed by discussion. Extracts and notes for the thought-pieces were shared before the workshop using the online forum.

This workshop ultimately sought to bring greater definition to this growing field of enquiry and formed the basis for the the papers presented at the network’s final conference and the essay collection emerging from the network.

This workshop was funded by the AHRC.

 

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