Cabinets of Curiosities: Collecting, Displaying, Consuming

Universidad de Salamanca, 24-26 April, 2024


We are pleased to announce the 34th SEDERI INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE.

There is perhaps no better illustration of the appetite for knowledge and understanding of the¬†known and unknown world in Renaissance Europe than the cabinet of curiosity: sometimes an¬†individual furniture-piece, but more commonly a room, or a series of rooms (precursor of the¬†modern museum) displaying objects arranged, juxtaposed, categorised ‚Äď the whole (or parts)¬†designed to convey a visual, material theatre of wonder: the Wunderkammer. This pan-European¬†practice emblematizes ‚Äď literally, associatively, metaphorically, allegorically ‚Äď the Humanist¬†making of meaning through acquisition, enquiry, presentation, consumption, and transmission.¬†In these ‚Äėepochs of space‚Äô (Foucault) the viewer is captivated by ‚Äėmarvellous objects‚Äô (Greenblatt),¬†reframed, newly (de)contextualised, and fetishized.

As we are all too well aware, this phenomenon was far from benign: like modern museum¬†collections, many of the objects acquired tell (if they could) a dark story of power and exploitation¬†‚Äď traces, indeed, of Europe‚Äôs colonial past, with which we have yet to fully reckon; more broadly,¬†the Cabinet of Curiosity cannot be detached from the socio-political milieu in which it flourished¬†and signified. That said, the aim of this conference is to explore how we might apply the concept,¬†as well as detect and analyse the practice: how, that is, the social activities underpinning the¬†acquisition, display, and experience of these objects might be uncovered in a range of related¬†cultural practices and material forms. Since the ‚ÄėCabinet of Curiosity‚Äô is not a label devised by¬†modern scholars to account for a historical practice but an established concept in the¬†Renaissance, it is possible to regard it as a transmutable and adaptable idea as much as delineating¬†a precise phenomenon, such as the Wunderkammer we find celebrated in print illustrations. To¬†that end, this conference is interested in how, alongside established examples of the form evoked¬†in surviving images, or forerunners of the modern museum accompanying guide, such as A¬†CATALOGUE Of all the Cheifest RARETIES In the Publick THEATER and ANATOMIE-HALL Of¬†the University of LEYDEN (1695), the practice of collecting, displaying, consuming as process might¬†be explored across the Renaissance landscape.

Proposals are invited that might address (but are not limited to) any of the following:

  • Agents, Anatomy halls, Animals, Antiquities, Archaeology, Architecture, Arcana,¬†Archaism, Archives, Art, Artefacts, Assemblage, Astrology, Automata.
  • Baroque, Biography, Body parts, Books, Botany, Buildings.
  • Cabinets, Categories, Catalogues, Ceremony, Churches, Classification, Codices,¬†Collage, Collecting, Colonialism, Commodities, Commonplace books, Consumption¬†and consumerism, Corpus, Correspondence, Cosmetics, Cultural identity, Curatorship¬†and curating, Curios.
  • Designs, Devotional objects, Dialects, Diaries, Digital Humanities, Diorama,¬†Dictionaries, Diplomacy, Displaying, Documents, Dolls‚Äô Houses, Drama.
  • Ecocriticism, Effects, Engravings, Exhibitions, Exotica.
  • Fairs, Festivals, Fiction, Fishing, Flora and fauna.
  • Galleries, Gardens, Gift-giving.
  • Houses, Household decor, Hunting.
  • Illuminations, Illustrations, Images, Instruments, Inventories.
  • Kunstkammern.
  • Landscapes, Libraries, Lighting, Lists, Literature.
  • Manuals, Manuscripts, Maps, Medical treatises, Memento Mori, Menageries, Miniatures,¬†Monsters, Money, Monuments, Museums.
  • Narrative, Natural Science, Networks, Notebooks.
  • Objects, Orientalism.
  • Patronage, Performance, Perpetual motion machines, Philosophy, Plants, Portraits,¬†Poetry, Public sphere, Publishing.
  • Recipes, Relics, Ruins.
  • Scenes, Science, Skeletons, Souvenirs, Still life, Stories, Stuff.
  • Taxidermy, Technology, Theatres, Things, Trade, Trompe l‚Äôoeil paintings, Travel.
  • Uncanny.
  • Vanitas.
  • Wills, Wunderkammern.

Contributions should take the following formats:

  1. Papers: 20-min.
  2. Panels: 90-min (consisting of three or four papers, chaired by the panel organizer).
  3. Posters: (90cm x 120cm) Posters should be devoted to research-in-progress and project presentations. Posters will be on display during a special session (date: TBC) when authors will be able to discuss their work and receive feedback.
  4. Project Presentations: 20-min (Regional, National, International projects in receipt of funding within the last two years).
  5. Book Presentations: 10-15 min. Please include title, author(s), publisher, date of publication, and ISBN.

Participants are permitted to give only one paper (whether single- or co-authored). The language of the conference is English, and papers should engage with one or more of the areas that historically have been the focus of SEDERI’s work: English language, literature, and culture, in the early modern world.

Submissions should consist of:

  1. Full Name
  2. Title of the paper
  3. Abstract (200-300 words)
  4. Your institutional affiliation
  5. Status: Prof. / Dr. / Ph. D. candidate / M. A. candidate / Other
  6. Your SEDERI membership status (member, non-member, application submitted)

This should be sent to The deadline for submitting proposals is 31/01/2024.

Any queries? Contact us at


Conference Fees

There is no Early Bird Registration but the fees this year have been kept to SEDERI 33 (Valencia, 2023) Early Bird rates:

SEDERI Member 110‚ā¨
Non-SEDERI Member 140‚ā¨
SEDERI Member (postgraduate) 60‚ā¨
Non-SEDERI Member (postgraduate) 70‚ā¨
USAL Student 30‚ā¨



SEDERI Research Prize

Information on SEDERI’s Research Prize can be found here.


The Organizing Committee

Paula Barba Guerrero

Mark Hutchings

Nora Rodríguez Loro

Javier Ruano García