Tag Archives: SCEMS

Social networks 1450-1850: an interdisciplinary conference

Social Networks 1450-1850 brings together scholars from across the world and from a range of disciplines – including History, English, Archaeology, and Sociology – to discuss the nature of society in the early modern period: how did people connect to one another, to what ends, and with what results?

The two day programme features panels on exiles, trade and industry, knowledge and communication, religion, kinship, and cities. Speakers include: Edward Muir (Northwestern), Emily Erikson (Yale), Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster), Mark Philp (Warwick), Lauren Kassell (Cambridge), and Phil Withington (Sheffield).

For more information and details of how to register, please visit the conference website: www.socialnetworksconference.wordpress.com

Sponsored by the Wolfson Foundation and Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies

Maria Zytaruk: Benjamin Franklin’s Museum Experiment in Philadelphia: Early Modern Collecting and Objects of Sociability


The logic that underpinned Benjamin Franklin’s project to establish a subscription library in colonial Philadelphia was simple.  “By thus clubbing our Books to a common Library,” writes Franklin in the Autobiography, all subscribers would enjoy the benefits of a larger selection of reading material than they could afford to assemble on their own.  The ways in which the Library Company of Philadelphia provided “book capital” to members, fostered sociability, and served as a mechanism for self-improvement have been much discussed by scholars.  What has received rather less attention is the museum component of the Library Company.

This paper explores the non-book collection of Franklin’s library and establishes, for the first time, the precise dynamics that governed this museum.  What has hitherto been considered a half-hearted attempt by the Library Company to emulate continental cabinets of curiosities emerges as a much more innovative and even subversive approach to the institution of the museum.


Maria Zytaruk is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Calgary. She specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature and culture.  Her work is highly interdisciplinary, as the topic of this paper shows.  Publications include an essay on the botanical artist Mary Delany and natural history, and she has a forthcoming article in The Journal of British Studies on elegy and the Foundling Hospital tokens.   In April 2015, she will be the Anthony and Beatrice Garvan Fellow in American Material Culture at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

SCEMS Visiting Speaker Masterclass: Professor Andrew Hadfield

Visiting Speaker Masterclass: Friday, May 23rd, 10am-12pm

Humanities Research Institute, Gell St., Sheffield

“Why Does Biography Matter?”

Prof. Hadfield will discuss his own work as a ‘skeptical biographer’, with particular reference to his recent biography of Spenser.  This should be a lively discussion and attendance will be capped at twenty, so emailg.schwartzleeper@sheffield.ac.uk to sign up and make certain you have a place.

Please feel free to email with any questions, and do circulate to interested students, colleagues, and friends.  We’re very happy to have undergraduates, postgraduates, academic staff, and members of the public at all of our events.

SCEMS Visiting Speaker Lecture: Professor Andrew Hadfield

Visiting Speaker Lecture: Thursday, May 22nd, 5:30-7:30pm

Humanities Research Institute, Gell St., Sheffield

“A Red Herring”

This talk will explore the significance of a strange herring caught off the coast of Norway in 1587, the pamphlets that the fish inspired and the ways in which the discovery contributed to late Elizabethan popular culture. Prof. Hadfield will also talk about the English fishing industry and its significance in the period, and the representation of herring in Nashe’s Lenten Stuffe (1599).


The lecture will be followed by a wine reception and is free–no prior booking is required.  If you would like to accompany Prof. Hadfield and the SCEMS organizers to dinner after the lecture, please email g.schwartzleeper@sheffield.ac.uk.