Workshop: Mapping the Field

Location:University of Oxford;   Dates:9-10 August 2013

Programme available here.

The aim of this two-day workshop was to identify productive avenues for future research on the interrelationship between literature and diplomacy in the early modern world.

This workshop brought together experts in history, literary studies, and cultural studies to address the intersections of literature and diplomacy. Recent research within both historical and literary disciplines has highlighted an urgent need for deeper investigation into the interlocking literary and diplomatic cultures of the global Renaissance. Historians and international relations scholars have called for new approaches to diplomatic studies, but such historical reassessments have left the role of literature relatively underexplored. Meanwhile Timothy Hampton’s Fictions of Embassy (2009) has compellingly demonstrated a powerful relationship between developments in Renaissance diplomacy and the composition, structures, concerns, tropes and even genres of European literatures.

At this workshop network members will introduce their research via short papers and reflect on productive future directions for further study in this important emerging field. Papers and discussions at the workshop asked:

  • What archival and other resources have untapped potential?
  • What kinds of textual exchanges are understudied?
  • What current assumptions require further critical reflection?
  • What are the key gaps in our thinking about this field?
  • What can each discipline contribute to our understanding of the relationship between literary and diplomatic cultures?
  • How might developments in literary studies help us reassess early modern diplomacy?
  • How might recent insights into early modern diplomatic practice inform analyses of early modern literary texts?
  • Which aspects of the field most urgently require new analytical methods and more developed theoretical approaches?

The ultimate aim of this workshop was to identify strategic questions and research priorities for future work in this important emerging area. We also aimed to identify innovative approaches that can be further discussed and developed at workshop two.

The Textual Ambassadors Workshop One Summary draws out themes that emerged in the course of our discussions and gives a taste of the individual papers. Tracey’s introductory survey of the state of the field outlines the various trends in historical and literary studies that make the network timely. You can also see Joad Raymond’s presentation on news and diplomacy here.

This workshop was sponsored by the AHRC and the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

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