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Early modern society

What are we about?

We are a trans-disciplinary society whose members are interested in life during the early modern period, which we define as starting during the Renaissance and finishing with the French Revolution.

The Birkbeck Early Modern Society was made student society of the year at the Birkbeck Student Union Awards of 2010.

We are interested in all facets of life at this time, and the ideas that were in circulation. Areas of particular interest are:

  • art and images
  • consumption
  • gender roles
  • literature
  • magic
  • politics
  • religion and belief
  • science
  • sexuality
  • travel and exploration.

Who is it for?

This is a thriving society and we welcome new members, be they students, alumni, staff, or friends.

Our aims are to:

  • organise educational activities, such as lectures and visits
  • provide a forum for students and staff to present papers on work in progress
  • throw the best parties!


All meetings start at 6.30 unless otherwise specified. Venues to be confirmed. Please email if you have any questions or want to be on the mailing list.

Venues should be be confirmed around 2 weeks prior to the event. Please check our Blog, The Early Modern Intelligencer, where you will find out about lots of early modern things:

  • Friday 23 October 2015: AGM
  • Friday 23 October 2015: Stephen Brogan, 'Rivals to Charles II?  Valentine Greatrakes, the duke of Monmouth and the royal touch in Restoration England, 1660-85'. Birkbeck, room B02, Malet Street
  • Friday 13 November 2015: Susan North, ‘Dress and hygiene in early modern England’. Birkbeck, room B30, Malet Street
  • Friday 18 December 2015: Richard Williams, 'Vermeer and the Illusion of Reality', Birkbeck, room 417, Malet Street
  • Friday 22 January 2016: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, ‘How to be an Early Modern Emperor’, Birkbeck, room G16, Malet Street
  • Friday 12 February 2016: Daniel Szechi, Barry Coward Memorial Lecture: ‘The Long Shadow of 1715.  The Great Jacobite Rebellion in Jacobite Politics and Memory — a Preliminary Analysis’, Birkbeck, room B02, Malet Street
  • Saturday 20 February 2016: student conference, 'Sensing the Early Modern', 11:15-18:00, Birkbeck, room B35, Malet Street
  • Friday 18 March 2016: Stephen Clucas. '“John Dee (1527-1609):  the ‘Magus’ of Mortlake”'. Birkbeck, room 152, Malet Street.
  • Friday 15 April 2016: 'Claire Jowitt, Captains, Queens, and Kings: Pirates, Politics, and Sex' in Thomas Middleton's The Phoenix (c.1603-4) and John Fletcher's and Philip Massinger's The False One(c. 1619-20)
  • Friday 20 May 2016: Dr Tracey Hill of Bath Spa University, ‘In open sight themselves to show and vaunt’: seeing and being seen in Jacobean London', Birkbeck, room G16, Malet Street
  • Friday 10 June 2016: Paul Taylor, 'Den gheest leert het maken: painting after life, from the spirit', Birkbeck, room 541, Malet Street
  • Friday 15 July 2016: Marina Warner, 'Power and Pleasure of the Oracle: From Sleeping Beauty to Pericles', Birkbeck, room 541, Malet Street
  • Friday 14 October 2016:Did Thomas Middleton's father build the Curtain playhouse, Shoreditch?' 14 October, venue TBC
  • Friday 4 November 2016: AGM
  • Friday 4 November:Dr Heather Dalton, ' English Merchants in the Early Modern Atlantic: micro history through a wide lens', room 152, Malet Street
  • Friday 2 December: Dr Mark Hailwood, 'Early Modern Alehouses ', room 152, Malet Street
  • Friday 27 January 2017: Dr Jackie Watson, Birkbeck Alumna,  'An Innsman goes to the Playhouse', Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square
  • Friday 24 February 2017: The  2017 Barry Coward Memorial Lecture, J.D Davies, 'Putting the Sea Back into Charles II: Pepys, the Stuarts, and the Missing Link of Restoration history', room 106, 43 Gordon Square
  • Friday 19 May 2017: Dr Stephen Clucas, 'Occult Vision: seeing, skrying and the "inner eye" tradition in John Dee', room 538, Malet Street
  • Friday 16 June 2017: Dr Judith Hudson, '"The wretched husband of two wives": bigamy and murder in early modern England', room 541, Malet Street
  • Friday 7 July 2017: Dr Stephen Brogan, 'From he to she and back again: a close look at the extraordinary Chevalier d'Eon, cross-dresser and spy', room 101, 30 Russell Square


Officers and committee members

President: Sue Jones
Secretary: Dr Laura Jacobs
Treasurer: Beverley Brown

Committee members: Dr Stephen Brogan, Dr Rebecca Tomlin, Csilla Macaiova, Dr Sue Dale, Robin Rowles, Dr Karen Baston, Rebecca Clossick, Timothy Alves

How to join us

Unless otherwise specified the charge for each event is: members free (membership £7), non-members £4

Please go to to join the Early Modern Society or to buy non-member tickets online

We organise other events such as guided walks, trips to galleries and museums, and we hold a regular film night: the details of these events are e-mailed to members.

By the way, you do not have to be a Birkbeck student to join the EMS.

Get in touch

For information about the society please email us at

To visit our blog please go to