Early Modern Tolerance

Session Convenors: 

Edward Wouk (The University of Manchester) edward.wouk@manchester.ac.uk

Jamie Edwards (University of Birmingham) j.edwards@bham.ac.uk

Please email your paper proposal to the session convenors using the Paper Proposal Form


The representation of tolerance was relatively rare in the visual arts of the early modern period. While imagery of bigotry and violence proliferated across media, for example in battle scenes, representations of martyrdom, and images of encounters with inhabitants of the Americas – all of which have been extensively studied in recent years – far fewer images address the theme of tolerance. Correspondingly, little scholarly work has been done on how, and to what extent, early modern artists engaged with the theme of tolerance in their works. This session therefore seeks to explore whether it is indeed possible to speak of an early modern visual culture of tolerance, and will investigate how and why artists created images that both visualised and inculcated a tolerant stance in the face of prevailing social, religious, or ethnic differences or tensions. We are interested in papers that explore a range of visual material and welcome contributions that look across geographic and temporal boundaries, including those that address non-western traditions or explore the resonances of early modern images of tolerance in and for our contemporary world. Themes can include (but are not limited to):

  • images of harmony, concord, peace, and equality, and how these provided spaces in which artists and their publics could seek alternatives to the cultures of violent intolerance in which they lived and worked
  • the particular forms of participation and performance, if any, that viewers enacted in response to images of tolerance
  • (visual) dissimulation and dissemblance
  • why early modern tolerance matters today.

This session is co-sponsored by the Renaissance Society of America (RSA)

Submit a paper

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenors above, using the Paper Proposal Form

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 21 October 2019

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