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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum III

November 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm



Noa Yaari (History)
David Robinson (History)


Noa Yaari (History, York University): “Visual Literacy in History: Multiform Arguments in the Historiography of Early Modern Individualism.” Since the late nineteenth century historians of early modern Europe have argued that the human self has a longue durée history, pointing out the factors that influence and reshape it. To explain these changes, they have suggested different models of its structure and the dynamic relationship it has with its environment. A central argument in this historiography points to the rise of ‘individualism’ as a transition from the pre-modern to the modern and post-modern eras, reflecting major shifts in politics, economy and culture. This paper explores the use of arguments that combine verbal text and images in the discourse about the historical self. I term these arguments ‘multiform arguments,’ and offer a new methodology for their systematic analysis, which will benefit a diverse community of scholars who turn to hybrid epistemologies.

David Robinson (History, University of Toronto): “Disputations a la maison: Religious Controversy and Public Opinion in Seventeenth Century Europe.” Disputations were a cornerstone of university education throughout medieval and early modern universities. In these disputations, one student would attack a thesis while another defended it. An impartial magister would resolve the debate by summarizing the arguments and declaring a victor. However, by the seventeenth century religious disputations began appearing in new spaces, namely private homes, where lay audiences played an increasingly prominent role in the debate. Both Protestant and Catholic clergy gambled that the simple faith of laypeople might replace an impartial magister and provide a public victory over their blindly partisan rivals. Yet, giving lay people this authority also carried the lasting consequence of giving increased influence to public opinion rather than clerical elites in shaping religious and political controversy. This paper highlights how the relocation of disputation into private homes helped shape the early modern public sphere, particularly in France.


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 hosts seven annual meetings. Each meeting features two speakers who each deliver a paper, and commentary and discussion guided by a moderator to elaborate the points of contact or departure between the two approaches presented. The EMIGF is an interdisciplinary forum. Each meeting brings two speakers from different departments working on similar topics, or on topics that may seem at first dissimilar. The emphasis of discussion is on connections between different fields, topics and research methods and how one perspective may inform or be informed by another.

EMIGF held its inaugural season in 2011-2012, initiated by former CRRS graduate fellow Tim Harrison. Now in its fifth consecutive year, EMIGF meetings are well attended by graduate students, faculty, and fellows from the early modern community at the University of Toronto and beyond. Please consider joining us at the next meeting!

Our monthly meetings are held Thursday afternoons (4:00-5:30 pm), and are located in the Victoria University Common Room of Burwash Hall (89 Charles St. West). To demonstrate its dedication to early modern graduate research in Toronto, the CRRS supplies coffee and snacks for each meeting. Contact organizer, Leslie Wexler with any questions at:


November 16, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Victoria University Common Room (Rear Entrance Burwash Hall)
89 Charles Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S1K7 Canada
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