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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum II — Paul Harrison & Elisa Tersigni

October 10, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

“Instructions in Cookery.” & “Medical.” — two sides of the same book.

The Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum (EMIGF) is a monthly event hosted by the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at the University of Toronto. EMIGF is a platform for PhD candidates, post-docs, fellows, and recent graduates to deliver papers in an informal setting. Our mandate is to provide junior and emerging scholars with the opportunity to present work in progress, and to facilitate dialogue on current topics in early modern research across the disciplines. EMIGF meetings are well attended by graduate students, faculty, and fellows from the early modern community at the University of Toronto and beyond. Our second meeting for 2019-2020 will be held on Thursday, October 10th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Victoria University Common Room, Burwash Hall (89 Charles Street West, rear entrance).


Paul Harrison Department of English, University of Toronto
Plus Ultra: Francis Bacon and the Limits of Knowledge”

Throughout his corpus, Francis Bacon often alludes to a popular early modern motto: Plus Ultra, or “Further Beyond,” as it is often rendered in English. The motto was, and continues to be, significant. In the early sixteenth century, Charles V of Spain adopted Plus Ultra as his personal and national motto; the words adorn the coat of arms on the Spanish flag to this day. This coat of arms provides the context that the words themselves lack; the phrase wrap around two columns, signifying the “Pillars of Hercules,” which are synonymous with Spain itself. The story goes that in ancient days Hercules wrote “Non Ultra” on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar. This was a warning, meaning: [go] no further [than] beyond [this point]. Thus, the Mediterranean was set as the limit of Classical navigational knowledge. But Charles V supplanted the “non” with a “plus,” as Spain had broken beyond the liminal pillars of geographic limitation – the Pillars of Hercules – by sailing across the Atlantic and arriving in the Americas. Plus Ultra, or further beyond, became an axiom of the age, appearing ubiquitously throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the early seventeenth century, Francis Bacon claimed Plus Ultra as his personal motto; he invokes the phrase frequently in his works, and famously alludes to the motto on the frontispiece to the Instauratio Magna in 1620. My talk will address the importance of the Plus Ultra motif in Bacon’s program of intellectual reform; more specifically, I will be discussing the use of the motto as an iteration of Bacon’s wish to eradicate the very limitations of knowledge.

Elisa Tersigni Folger Shakespeare Library
“Two Sides of the Same Book: The Creation and Use of Early Modern Receipt Books”

I will present on the early modern English recipe book collection at the Folger Shakespeare Library (the largest such collection in the world.) I’m combining bibliographic analysis (physical analysis of the book) with large-scale analysis (computer-assisted analysis) to learn more about the authorship of recipe books, how the books were constructed and used, and how the concept of “taste” evolved over the early-modern period. 


October 10, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies


Victoria University Senior Common Room, 91 Charles St. West