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Recent and Forthcoming Early Modern Events

Autumn Term 2022

Please note - the programme this term contains a mix of online and hybrid events, see below for details. If you would like to join our mailing list for reminders and links to online meetings, please email

CEMS Annual General Meeting. Wednesday 28 September, 3.30pm. Online & Forum Seminar Room 6.

James Fisher (Exeter), The Enclosure of Knowledge: Books, Power and Agrarian Capitalism in Britain, 1660-1800. Discussant: Jane Whittle. Wednesday 12 October, 3.30pm. Online & Forum Seminar Room 4.

Tony Gale (Exeter Alumni), Great Fire of Crediton Workshop. Wednesday 26 October, 3.30pm. Online & Forum Seminar Room 7

Early Modern Futures Reading Group, Wednesday 9 November. To join the reading group or to make a suggestion, please email Online only.

Harry McCarthy (Cambridge) and Perry Mills (King Edward VI’s School, Stratford-Upon-Avon), Edward’s Boys: Shakespeare in Performance. Wednesday 16 November, 3.30pm. Online & in person (details to follow).

Joint CEMS & Centre for Imperial & Global History Seminar: Helen Pfeifer (Cambridge), Empire of Salons: The Ottoman Art of Conversation in the Sixteenth Century. Wednesday 23 November, Forum Seminar Room 10.

The Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2022; Ronald Hutton (Bristol), The European Witch Hunt in World Context: Some Further Thoughts. Wednesday 30 November, 3.30pm. Online and in person (details to follow).

Spring Term 2022

  • Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture 2022: Claire Preston (QML). Wednesday 26 Jaunary.
  • CEMS & Centre for Maritime Historical Studies Joint Seminar: Laurence Publicover (Bristol), 'Fathoming the Deep: Navigation, the Seabed, and Early Modern English Tragedy'. Weds 9 February.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group. Wednesday 16 February.
  • CEMS & Centre for Medical History Joint Seminar: Karen Harvey and Emily Vine (Birmingham), 'Social Bodies in English Letters, 1680-1820'. Wednesday 2 March.
  • Nicholas Smolenski (Duke University & Exeter Visiting Fellow 2021-22), 'Hearing Architectual Sketches: Historiographical Approaches to Acoustical Analysis in Early Modern Cathedrals'. Wednesday 16 March.
  • Lukas Erne (Geneva & Gareth Roberts Visiting Professor), 'Mediating Shakespeare: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Editorial Agency'. Wednesday 23 March.
  • CEMS & Classics and Ancient History Joint Seminar: Noreen Humble (Calgary), 'Reading Xenophon in the early modern period: who and why'. Monday 28 March.

Autumn Term 2021

  • CEMS Annual General Meeting followed by Hidden Exeter Walking Tour and Social, Wednesday 6 October.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group. Wednesday 20 October.
  • The Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2021: Professor Laura Gowing (King’s College London), Making Havoc: Young Women, Apprenticeship & Choices in 17th-century England. Wednesday 3 November.
  • CEMS Postgraduate Showcase, Wednesday 17 November.
  • Exeter-Leuven Postgraduate (all welcome!) Reading Group on Early Modern Translation Studies. Tuesday 23 November.
  • CEMS Seminar: Niall Allsopp, David Parry, Philip Schwyzer (Exeter), ‘Writing Religion, Conflict and Community in Exeter 1500-1750. Wednesday 1 December.

Summer Term 2021

  • CEMS: The State of Play. Wednesday 5 May.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group: Wednesday 19 May, 3.30pm, Teams.
  • Milton: the State of the Field. A roundtable and celebration of the publication of Nicholas McDowell's Poet of the Revolution: The Making of John Milton. Wednesday 16 June.
  • Race and Early Modern Studies: Professor Farah Karim-Cooper (KCL/Shakespeare’s Globe), Friday 11 June. Professor Karim-Cooper led workshops attended by academics from institutions across the South West and Wales on developing an anti-racist approach to teaching early modern subjects. In the evening Professor Karim-Cooper was joined by Exeter’s Professor Jane Milling and an online audience of c. 200 people to talk about her research and work, Shakespeare and Anti-Racism: In Conversation with Professor Farah Karim-Cooper.

Spring Term 2021

  • Helen Berry (Exeter), ‘What the Foundling Hospital Children Did Next: Patterns of Foundling Charity Apprenticeship, c. 1750-1800’, Wednesday 20 January.
  • CEMS and Centre for Maritime Historical Studies Joint Seminar: Margaret Schotte (York University, Toronto), ‘Lessons from Book Lists: Recovering Evidence of Hydrographical Education in New France’, Wednesday 10 February.
  • CEMS Postgraduate Showcase: Wednesday 24 February.
  • Ruth Connolly (Newcastle), ‘Waste matter: The Poetics of Prostitution in Ben Jonson’s ‘On The Famous Voyage’’. Wednesday 10 March.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group: Wednesday 24 March.

Autumn Term 2020

  • CEMS Annual General Meeting and Welcome, Wednesday 14 October.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group: Imtiaz Habib, Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible (Routledge, 2008). Wednesday 21 October.
  • Work In Progress at CEMS: Chris Ewers, 'Rethinking Temporality in the long eighteenth century'; Elin Jones, 'Learning the Ropes: Seamanship and Useful Knowledge, 1770-1820'; James Fisher 'Learning through Labour: The Mystery of Husbandry, 1600-1800'. Wednesday 4 November.
  • The Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2020: Professor Jonathan Barry (Exeter), ‘Bristol and Exeter Compared: Researching Early Modern Cities’, available online, followed by live discussion Wednesday 18 November
  • A CEMS and Digital Humanities Lab Joint Seminar: Brett Greatley-Hirsch (Leeds), 'Early Modern Authorship and Genre: What’s in a name?', Wednesday 25 November.
  • Legal documents from the Indo-Islamic world: a new resource, presented by Nandini Chatterjee, Elizabeth Thelan, Dominic Vendell. Wednesday 2 December.

Summer 2020

  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group (Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincialising Europe), Wednesday 10th June, 3pm via Teams.
  • Research in Progress: Fabrizio Nevola (Art History and Visual Culture) and Hester Schadee (History) lead a session drawing on aspects of their own research. Wednesday 24th June, 3.30pm via Teams.
  • Early Modern Futures Reading Group (Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past), Thursday 9th July, 3.30pm via Teams.
  • Research in Progress Rountable: undergraduate, postgraduate and early career members of the Centre will briefly introduce an aspect of their research. Wednesday 22 July, 3.30pm via Teams.

Spring Term 2020

  • Elin Jones (Exeter), ‘Space, Sound and Sedition on the Royal Naval Ship, 1756 – 1815’. Centre for Maritime Historical Studies Seminar, Wednesday 15 January.
  • Jan Machielsen (Cardiff), ‘Narratives versus History: Pierre de Lancre, the Pays de Labourd and the ‘Making’ of a Witch-Hunt’. CEMS Seminar, Wednesday 29 January.
  • Ruth Connolly (Newcastle), ‘Waste matter: The Poetics of Prostitution in Ben Jonson’s ‘On The Famous Voyage’’. CEMS Seminar, Wednesday 12 February.
  • Work in Progress at CEMS: Chris Ewers, Elin Jones, and Meredith Hale. CEMS Seminar Series, Wednesday 26 February.
  • Claire Preston (QMUL): Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture, title TBC. Monday 9 March.
  • Brett Greatley-Hirsch (Leeds), 'Some may perhaps suppose this Prose is mine': Genre, Style, and Early Modern Authorship’. CEMS & Digital Humanities joint seminar, Friday 13 March.

Autumn Term 2019

  • CEMS Annual General Meeting and Welcome, Wednesday 9 October.
  • Black History Month at CEMS: Decolonising the Curriculum – a reading group led by Laura Sangha. Wednesday 23 October.
  • Early Modern Dialogues in Performance, a workshop led by David Parry. Wednesday 6 November, 3-5pm, Roborough Studios. The first reading will be from Arthur Dent, The Plain Man’s Pathway to Heaven.
  • The Joyce Youings Lecture: Professor Peter Marshall (Warwick): Kirk and Community in Early Modern Orkney. Friday 15 November.
  • Paddy Bullard (Reading), What Book History can tell us about Eighteenth-Century Georgic. Wednesday 20 November.
  • Work in Progress at CEMS. Chris Ewers (English), Rethinking temporality in the long eighteenth century. Meredith Hale (Art History and Visual Culture), The Geography of Satire. Elin Jones (History), Passages of Time: Maritime Temporality and the Royal Navy, 1750 – 1850. Wednesday 4 December.
  • Jo Esra (Exeter), Agency in Adversity: the early modern victims of Barbary Piracy. Centre for Maritime Historical Studies Seminar, Wednesday 11 December.

Spring Term 2019

  • CEMS Postgraduate Symposium 2019: Points of Connection. Keynote: Dr Rebecca Emmett (Plymouth). University of Exeter Digital Humanities Lab, 13 June.
  • Women and Quarrels in Early Modern France/Les Femmes et Les Querelles dans la France de la première modernité, University of Exeter, 18 March 2019. Speakers: Catriona Seth (University of Oxford), Myriam Dufour-Maître (Université de Rouen) and Derval Conroy (University College Dublin).
  • Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture 2019: Matthew Dimmock (Sussex), Elizabethan Globalism. 5 March 2018.

Autumn Term 2018

  • Connected Cultures in Early Modern France. Joint CEMS & Centre for Translating Cultures Seminar, with Adam Horsely (Exeter),  Hugh Roberts (Exeter), Helena Taylor (Exeter), December 2018.
  • Niklaus-Cartwright Memorial Lecture: Professor Catriona Seth (Oxford): Clandestine Correspondence at Court. November 2018.
  • Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2018: Professor Lyndal Roper (Oxford), 6:30pm in Amory Moot Room, November 2018
  • Inspired by Wills: Creative Writing with Exeter U3A. Sessions lead by Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth on 13 March and 8 May 2018.

Spring and Summer 2018

  • Digital Humanities Event led by Adam Crymble (Hertfordshire),'The Digital Thesis: Managing your Data and Preparing it for Submission', 30 May 2018.
  • CEMS Postgraduate Conference 2018: Space, Place and Interface, keynote speakers Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck) and Chris Laoutaris (Birmingham), 23 and 24 May 2018.
  • Digital Humanities Event: GIS for Early Modern Studies, led by Patricia Murrieta-Flores (Lancaster), 9 May 2018.
  • Digital Humanities Event: Mapping with the DECIMA Project. Led by Nick Terpstra (Toronto) and Colin Rose (Brock University, Canada), 3 May 2018.

Autumn term 2017

  • Gareth Roberts Visiting Professor 2017: Stephen Guy-Bray (British Columbia), Representing Representation, 13 November 2017
  • Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2017: Peter Elmer (Exeter), Murder, Magic and Witchcraft: the Politics of the Supernatural in Restoration Exeter, 2 November 2017.
  • Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture 2016: Todd Gray MBE, 'Carving out the Renaissance in Devon. 3 November.
  • Gareth Roberts Memorial Lecture 2016: Lorna Hutson (Oxford): 'The Shakespearean Unscene: Sexual Phantasy in a Midsummer Night's Dream'. 7 November.


  • Gareth Roberts Visiting Professor: Nigel Smith (Princeton). 23 November 2016.
  • Fabrizio Nevola (Art History and Visual Culture) inaugural lecture: 'The Renaissance piazza as a social media space', 18 November 2015.
  • 'Singing the Past': Freyja Cox Jensen and Oskar Cox Jensen led these three events in Heavitree, Cullompton, and Exeter Guildhall, part of the Being Human: National Festival of Humanities.
  • 'The south western rebellion of 1549 revisited': Professor Mark Stoyle, 2015 Joyce Youings Memorial Lecture‌, Thursday 5 November, University of Exeter.
  • Poly-Olbion and the Writing of Britain, Royal Geographical Society, London, 10-11 September 2015.
  • The International Christopher Marlowe, University of Exeter, 7-8 September 2015.
  • Voices of the People: an Online Symposium, hosted by the many-headed monster blog, July-August 2015. Open access, comments from readers welcome.
  • The Eleventh International Milton Symposium, University of Exeter, 20-24 July 2015.
  • The Tallis Scholars Concert: in association with the Milton Symposium. Exeter Cathedral, Tuesday 21 July.
  • Humanities Networking Series: Demystifying Academia (pdf), University of Exeter, April-July 2015.
  • A Glimpse of Tudor Life (pdf), a research showcase in association with the Cullompton Walronds Preservation Trust, Devon, 20 June 2015.
  • The Tragedy of Thomas Merry and The 15 Minute Hamlet: Tudor Drama and Supper at the Walronds, Cullompton.
  • 'The Devon Cromwellians', Dr Stephen Roberts (History of Parliament Trust), The Ivan Roots Memorial Lecture, supported by Devon & Cornwall Record Society, Devonshire Association, Devon History Society, Historical Association (Exeter Branch): 20 June 2015.
  • The Past in its Place: A Workshop on Place, Space and Memory, Buckfast Abbey, 17-18 April 2015.

The pieces of writing below came about as part of a PhD project by Sarah-Jayne Ainsworth at the University of Exeter. Her research looks at women’s wills written between 1625 and 1660 in the south west of England and reads them as examples of women’s writing, rather than just historical document.

As part of this, members of the Exeter U3A Writing for Pleasure group looked at some wills written by early modern women from Exeter and used them as the basis for creative writing. Generally only widows and some spinsters were allowed to write wills, and the property that they had to give was often limited to their own clothes, household goods and linens. However, some women had significant property and land; some left the tools they had used in life; some left significant gifts to charity; some asked for memorials to be built for them.

The authors have used ideas from the wills of four Exeter women – Elizabeth Trosse and her daughter Joane; Elizabeth Southcott and her daughter-in-law Susanna – as the basis of their stories and poems. They have not written the stories of these women, but have selected elements and ideas from their wills as the basis of a piece of creative writing.

In using the things women wrote about themselves as the inspiration for new writing, this project has taken women’s wills full circle, from examples of women’s writing to writing inspired by their writing. Please follow the links below to view the full version of each piece of writing.