2019 in review

The calendar year got off to a busy start for us, with no less than seven conference papers in three months. We began at Exeter, where the Centre for Medical History generously hosted the entire team in a mini-symposium dedicated to Renaissance Skin. As well as presentations by Evelyn Welch, Hannah Murphy, Kathleen Walker Meikle and Paolo Savoia, we were ...


RSA Conference Toronto 2019

The Renaissance Skin team headed to Toronto in balmy March as locals cheerfully skated on the outdoor ice rink outside the conference venue for the Renaissance Society of America’s annual meeting (17-19th March 2019).

The Renaissance Skin panel was scheduled as one of the second sessions of the last day (Tuesday). Since Hannah could not be there, our ...


Bologna 2018

Bologna 1

Dinner on the first night in Bologna

In June 2018, the whole Renaissance Skin team visited Bologna, Italy for a group research trip. Over 2 days we packed in a lot of culture, walking, and importantly, food! The visit was meticulously planned by Natasha and Paolo (Bologna resident), and true to our foodie ambitions we began at Osteria Santa Caterina ...


The Polyphony Showcases 'Artisans of the Surface'

The Polyphony is a web platform for the medical humanities hosted by the Institute for Medical Humanities at Durham University. It invites conversations in the field and we are delighted that have chosen to showcase our recent workshop 'Artisans of the Surface in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1750'.  In this piece, Paolo discusses what prompted him to convene this workshop that ...


Thimbles, Rings, and Other Things

The Renaissance Skin team had a busy start to the summer and we continued in our efforts regarding material things by visiting the British Museum (BM) on 3 July. The trip was first prompted by Juliet’s interest in thimbles, as she embarks on her research to uncover ways in which the human body was protected in the early modern ...


Felt-and Hat-Making Workshop (School of Historical Dress)

At the end of August, Kathleen attended a three-day course at the School of Historical Dress on traditional felt-making techniques tutored by Rachel Frost. Here, she tells us all about it.

The course focused on wool felting in early modern Britain, where the manufacture was focused on the hat trade. Felt is the oldest form of textile and consists of ...


Sausages, Research & Consumption - an evening at The Ginger Pig

The seventeenth-century painting ‘Sausage Making’ by the Flemish artist David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) sent the Renaissance Skin team on a mission to understand how animal skins and casings were stuffed and cooked in the early modern period. The painting, part of the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, depicts an interior scene with a young woman preparing sausages ...


Learning about Leather - The National Leather Collection, Northampton

Within our research we are trying to incorporate the many varied types of animal skin, thinking about how they were used and exploited in the early modern period. A museum dedicated to all things leather is the obvious place to start. And so on 18 June 2018, the whole team headed to Northampton for a visit to the National Leather ...


Review: The Porous Body in Early Modern Europe

Jola Pellumbi, 'Dissecting Early Modern Skin', The Court Historian 23(1)

Dr Jola Pellumbi attended our first conference 'The Porous Body in Early Modern Europe' on 30 November-1 December 2017. Her review of the event was published in June 2018 in The Court Historian.

Jola Pellumbi, 'Dissecting Early Modern Skin', The Court Historian 23(1), pp.80-1

Pellumbi sums up ...


Refashioning the Renaissance at 'Uncovering the Animal'

Our workshop 'Uncovering the Animal: Skin, Fur, Feathers 1450-1700' held on 29 June 2018 at King's College London was attended by a range of scholars from a variety of disciplines. Papers covered subjects from pangolins and nautilus shells to feathers (as used in the East and West), shagreen, and fur. Those in attendance contributed to valuable discussions about the ...


Skin Deep blog for the Histories of Emotion

Following on from her recent visit to Australia, Evelyn has written a post for the Histories of Emotion blog entitled Skin Deep. It summarises changing notions of the skin in the early modern period.

The Histories of Emotion brings together a group of research associates working in the humanities in Australia, as part of the Australian Research Council’s Centre ...


Conference Alert: Skin in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group and the University of Western Australia for Medieval and Early Modern Studies are holding their annual conference on 13 October 2018 on Skin in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

The keynote speaker is Dr Lisa Beaven (La Trobe University) speaking on 'Living Flesh: Splendor, Sex and Sickness on the Surface of the Skin'.

They now ...


The Porous Body Conference - video short

On 30 November and 1 December 2017, we held our first conference at King’s College London. Featuring 18 speakers from Germany, Australia, and across the UK, plus two keynote lectures from Thomas W. Laqueur (Berkeley) and Anita Guerrini (Oregon), this conference considered the broad dimensions of porous bodies in the early modern period.

Listen to Evelyn Welch as she ...


Disturbingly Informed - notes from America

On 15 February 2018, Natasha visited the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and was treated to a behind-the-scenes exploration of this intriguing museum and its collections.

Appropriately, the strapline for Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum is ‘Disturbingly Informed’ and I cannot think of a more suitable term to sum up a visit to this museum. Opened on its original site in 1863 ...


Evelyn Welch on Australia's Radio National

Evelyn is currently in Australia, where early last week she gave a public lecture, Skin Deep, at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions based at the University of Melbourne. Evelyn has been busy promoting all things skin and at the end of the week she was invited to speak alongside dermatologist Rachel Manifold on Australia's ...


'From Past to Present' - notes from a conference

On 15 February 2018, Kathleen gave a paper at the one-day conference 'From Past to Present: Natural Cosmetics Unwrapped', held at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in London. The conference was organised by a team of scholars from the Universities of Oxford, Glasgow, and Keele. Read her thoughts on the day below.

The premises of the Society are highly recommended for ...


Visiting CRASSH - part II (Feathers)

Kathleen returned to the University of Cambridge on Wednesday 8 November for the next CRASSH event in the Imaginative Things: Curious Objects 1400-2000 seminar series, with two speakers presenting on feathers.

Dr José Ramón Marcaida discussed birds-of-paradise and the global transmission of both dead specimens and knowledge about the bird in the early modern period. No living specimens of birds-of-paradise ...


Visiting CRASSH - part I

On Thursday 25 October, Kathleen and Juliet attended an afternoon seminar on leather as part of the series Imaginative Things: Curious Objects 1400-2000, held at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge.

Convened by Abigail Gomulkiewicz, the seminar brought together scholars to discuss items of material culture made of leather, which may ...


Animal Skin as Protection - a treat in the Museum of London stores

We were privileged to have a team visit to the Museum of London stores on Thursday 12 October 2017, ably guided by Curator Tim Long. Currently, we are trying to get to grips with how to integrate notions of animal skin within our discourse. How animal and human skin are conceived in this period in different ways is significant, for ...


Welcome to Renaissance Skin

The Renaissance Skin project came about through ideas that Evelyn Welch has been working on throughout her career, which has included research grants focusing on medical history and fashion, each with a strong emphasis on the importance of material culture within the early modern period. What started out to be only a small part of the HERA-funded Fashioning the Early ...