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Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum V

January 18, 2018 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm



Kristina Francescutti (History)

Benjamin Woodford (English)


Kristina Francescutti (History): “Inheritance, Widowhood, and Class Conflict: What We Can Learn from Sumptuary Law.” Throughout the sixteenth century, Venice built empire through imposing itself in neighbouring territories – first Treviso, followed by Friuli, and in the span of the century, swaths of the Veneto, Lombardy, and Romagna. Much is known about the latter three territories in academic scholarship. However, the integration of Friuli is strangely overlooked. This integration happened differently – for instance, Friuli’s parliament, one of the oldest in Europe, was left relatively autonomous. In this paper, I will argue that this unique sumptuary case complicates and challenges the nature of Venetian empire building. This relationship is best illustrated by a civil case brought against a widow named Giulia de Urbanis in 1548. Giulia’s crime was dressing above her station, wearing clothing which resembled that of the nobility, when in fact she had been the wife of a popular merchant. The case includes a detailed inventory of her problematic accoutrements. Unpacking the case gives us valuable insight into the world of sixteenth century Udine, touching on politics, inheritance, gender, widowhood, and class conflict.

Benjamin Woodford (English): “Satanic Freedom in Milton’s Paradise Lost.” Throughout Milton’s epic poem, Satan espouses a version of freedom that dictates both his own behavior and his relationship with his followers. Satanic freedom is institutional, which means that freedom is only possible through the leadership of someone, in this case Satan, who understands the angels’ true nature. To be free in these terms, the rebel angels must submit to Satan’s leadership and entrust him with all their decisions. This version of freedom differs from God’s freedom, which stresses free will and individual choice. Following Satanic freedom, both Satan and the rebel angels sacrifice their free will to achieve a higher goal, but in doing so, they enslave themselves to this faulty goal. The principles of Satanic freedom appear in Paradise Lost when Satan first gathers the rebel angels, during the rebellion itself, during the debate in the parliament of hell, and when Satan travels to Eden.


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:


January 18, 2018
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


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