The Society for the History of Collecting

Call for Papers

Renaissance Society of America Conference

21–23 March 2024

Collecting and Knowledge Production through Travel

The importance of travel in the circulation of ideas and goods in the early Modern period cannot be overemphasized. Travel, whether for commercial, private or public purposes was a source of information and experience and travellers collected at every level, bringing back new and rare objects as well as commercially important goods. Travellers might return with works of art, which they then organised and arranged into their collections, while traders negotiated and acquired rarities to be sold on the European markets. However, collectors created imaginary worlds in their collections as they gathered information, ideas, descriptions and literary texts from cultures other than their own, or employed ekphrasis to relate new narratives and new art works.

The proposed sessions at RSA 2024 aim to investigate the intellectual contexts in which objects were collected, the relationships between travel accounts, whether published or unpublished, and the creation of new understandings of worlds beyond the immediate world of the collector; to explore the dynamic relationships between trade and collectibles; the perceptions created by travelogues and travel manuscripts; the travel of the imagination, which could transcend the voyages made and recounted. We invite new research into any aspect of these topics as we aim to recover the intellectual environment created by travel in early modern Europe that influenced collectors. Equally important were the networks created by travellers who voyaged to different centres in Europe and beyond, possibly through previous contacts but equally creating new contacts and new networks in which collections were discussed and exchanged. We are also interested in any papers that delve into the question of travel from a non-European perspective.

As an Associate Organization of RSA, the Society for the History of Collecting can sponsor up to four sessions. Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers. They must include a title, abstract of no more than 150 words, keywords, a one-page CV including PhD completion year or expected completion.Speakers will need to be members of RSA at the time of the conference and we strongly encourage them to be  members of the Society for the History of Collecting

Proposals should be sent to Sophia McCabe, Adriana Turpin and Lisa de Zoete, session convenors, at with the heading “RSA 2024 Proposal” by 8 August 2023.

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