Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe

Prison/Exile: Controlled Spaces in Early Modern Europe

This two-day interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the relationship between space, identity, and religious belief in the early modern period, through the correlative, yet distinct experiences of imprisonment and exile. Scholars from around the world will share their research on forms of confinement throughout the early modern period, from the plantations of the Americas to the playhouses of London, from Jesuit missionaries in Ethiopia to prisoners of state in ancien régime France.

At a time when incarceration or exile was a distinct possibility, even likelihood, for many innovative thinkers, how did the experience of imprisonment or banishment influence the texts—theological, political, and literary—produced in the early modern period? How did early modern individuals inhabit, conceptualise, and represent “unfree” space? How does the spatial turn help us to investigate the impact of the confines of prison or the exile’s physical separation from their community on the production and development of religious thought? Does imprisonment or exile exaggerate polemical language and heighten sectarian or confessional differences, or induce censorship and temper dissenting voices?

Keynote lectures will be given by Professor Rivkah Zim (King’s College, London) on “A Politics of Place in Early Modern English Prison Writing” and by Professor Bruce Gordon (Yale University) on “Exile, Refuge, and Prison in the Mind of John Calvin.”

The full conference programme can be found here. Any queries may be addressed to, and you can follow us on Twitter @OxPrisonExile.

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