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Current Projects


Monday 30 April and Tuesday 1 May 2018

Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, UK

Crossing Boundaries: confessional, political and cultural interactions in early modern festivals and diplomatic encounters


In the early modern world, festivals and diplomatic ceremoniaI often involved the movement of individuals and courtly retinues across borders. They could therefore serve as sites of interaction between religious, political, linguistic, visual, musical, literary, theatrical and material cultures. Often this was accompanied by inherent underlying tensions, which could be made more or less explicit in the diverse 'languages' of festival, depending on their historical contexts and the objectives of organisers and participants. Interactions might be direct, as in the case of rulers, courtiers or ambassadors travelling between territories to attend or participate in festival or diplomatic occasions, or indirect, through visual or performed representations of other cultures. Such encounters could involve claims to, and negotiations of, status and precedence, and permit the inclusion of multiple layers of meaning, enabling different parties to participate in the associated ceremonies.

The conference, led by Richard Morris, will foreground recent research by doctoral and early-career colleagues, together with papers from experienced scholars, and will focus on the period from approximately 1500 to 1750. Papers will be welcome relating to any region of Europe, or any other area of the early-modern world with which Europeans had come into contact.


If you would like to propose a paper for inclusion, please email a brief abstract, not exceeding 300 words, to Richard Morris (

Papers will typically be 20 minutes in length. The conference language is English.

Please add a short cv, including current academic/museum/gallery affiliation, together with a note of academic experience and/or the titles of up to 3 publications. Please copy your email to Margaret Shewring ( and Ronnie Mulryne (

Your outline proposal must be received by Friday 23 February 2018.


If you do not wish to contribute a paper but would nevertheless wish to attend the conference, please send an email to the same address as above, by the same date. This will help us with planning, budgeting and the circulation of information.


The conference will be held at Trinity Hall, one of the oldest Colleges of the University of Cambridge (founded 1350). Trinity Hall enjoys a beautiful site on the banks of the river Cam, and offers high-quality day-conference accommodation, including up-to-date A/V facilities. Please consult the Trinity Hall website for further details. Some conference members may like to know that Choral Evensong, open to all, is sung in the medieval College Chapel on Sunday evenings at 6.00 pm.

Please note that the College is unable to offer overnight accommodation to conference members. The 'Cambridge Hotels' website offers details of a wide range of accommodation from Guest Houses and B&Bs to expensive hotels.


The Society for European Festivals Research charges no annual fees and has no accumulated financial reserves. We aim to hold conferences which 'break even'. This depends on our success in attracting support from academic and grant-giving organisations. Trinity Hall has shown great generosity in relation to the costs of our forthcoming conference. Some funds are available from the Uniersity of Warwick and we have secured some support from the Society for Renaissance Studies.

At this stage, we anticipate we shall have to charge a conference fee of £40, to include accommodation for the conference sessions, lunch and tea/coffee breaks on both days. Conference members, including those who have signified an interest in attending the conference, without a definite commitment to do so, will be informed of the eventual conference fee when it is possible to calculate this.

In accordance with the Society's policy, we hope it may be possible to offer a reduced fee for students and recent graduates. Preference will be given to students/recent graduates who will be presenting a paper.

All conference members will be responsible for their own travel to, and accommodation in, Cambridge.


An optional conference dinner will be held in College on the first evening (Monday 30 April). Those attending will be required to pay a reasonable cost. We shall inform intending conference members about the cost nearer the time.

Dr R.L.M. Morris, Professor J.R. Mulryne, Dr Margaret Shewring, Professor Margaret M. McGowan and Professor Marie-Claude Canova-Green.




International Conference at Mons, Belgium

12-14 October 2015

Festivals in Hainault at the time of Jacques du Broeucq: The European Importance of Festivities to honour Charles V and the future Philip II (1549)

Call for papers

Potential speakers at the above conference are invited to submit proposals for conference papers to the Low Countries Sculpture Society and the Society for European Festivals Research. Proposals should be limited to a maximum of 300 words, should be accompanied by a brief CV (no more than a few lines) and should be sent to and to arrive no later than Wednesday 8th April, 2015. A scientific committee drawn from the two Societies and invited scholars will take a decision on selected speakers shortly after that date. Proposals must be in English or French, which will be the conference languages.

Thanks to a grant from the Fondation Mons 2015, three hotel nights and modest travel expenses for foreign participants can be covered.

The Conference

In 2015, the eyes of Europe will focus on Mons as the European Capital of Culture. To celebrate the occasion, an international conference will be held in Mons, set within a week of celebrations featuring the work of Jacques Du Broeucq(c.1505-84) as architect and sculptor (11-18 October) and following a week (4-11 October) celebrating the musical achievements of Orlando di Lasso/Roland de Lassus (1532-94).

The aim is to bring to widespread public notice a famed series of occasions when, as the hub of Renaissance Europe, the Low Countries commanded the continent’s attention, with Hainault and its capital Mons featuring as the site of the most famous and influential events. These took place in 1549 when Charles V, Count of Hainault and Holy Roman Emperor, attempted to determine the continent’s dynastic, political and economic future by nominating as his successor his son Philip of Spain. With this aim in mind, his sister Mary of Hungary commissioned a series of magnificent festivals, the most lavish of which took place in September of that year at her palaces close to Mons at Binche and Mariemont.

The Society for European Festivals Research (SEFR) will be responsible for the conference’s academic programme, which will emphasise the almost unprecedented magnificence of the festivals at Mary’s palaces. These outshone the festivals of contemporary France and arguably equalled the great royal and civic festivals of Italy and the German-speaking states. Attention will be drawn to the public processions organised by local officials, and engaged in by a high proportion of the whole populace, from tradesmen and civic officers to artists, choreographers, designers and musicians. Particular attention will be paid to tournaments, including the great tournament of the Chateau Ténébreux, and to their wide-ranging public appeal. Attention will also be paid to the festivals’ appropriation of Italian and Burgundian or Northern European precedents, and to their continent-wide public recognition, as attested by the survival of an unusually high number of published accounts in Spanish, French, German and Italian. Papers which adopt a perspective that is Europe-wide, and are conscious of the social and political context of the events, will be especially welcome. Analysis of European festivals which rival or parallel those at Binche and Mariemont will be considered, provided that they reference the 1549 celebrations. Performance analysis will be a further concern of the conference, so that proposals forpapers which deal with festivals as theatrical events, and with the associated scenography and performance characteristics, will also be welcome.

Authors of papers should avoid a merely descriptive approach to their topic, and should instead observe a theoretic or analytical method, while being aware that the conference is open to the general public, so that an accessible and informative style is essential. Approximately 20 papers will be selected for inclusion.

Authors are advised that the European Festival Studies series published by Ashgate will be asked to consider the publication of a volume based on contributions to the conference. Authors seeking inclusion in the volume should therefore ensure that they retain details of their sources and references, so that scholarly footnotes and a bibliography can be reconstructed at a future date. It is also advisable to adopt the conventions and house style set out in the Ashgate guidelines, which can be accessed on the appropriate website ( Please note, however, that a published volume will not consist of ‘conference proceedings’ but will feature a selection of papers reconsidered, re-written and edited following discussion at the conference and with the volume editor(s).


Sunday 11 October 2015

12.00-20.00 Renaissance banquet at the castle of Boussu, near Mons (optional)

Monday 12 October 2015

10.00-19.00 Conference, university of Mons, followed by evening programme

Tuesday 13 October 2015

10.00-19.00 Conference, at the Centre Culturel, Boussu, followed by evening programme

Wednesday 14 October 2015

10.00-16.00 Conference, university of Mons, followed by free evening or individual return home

Thursday 15 October 2015

11.00-17.00 Excursion to Saint-Omer (optional), return to Mons around 19.00

Conference organisers

The Society for European Festivals Research at the University of Warwick, UK

The University of Leuven

The Low Countries Sculpture Society, Brussels

The Mons 2015 Foundation, Mons

The University of Mons