Call for Papers

The Textual Spaces of Domestic Life in Early Modern England: Literature, Gender, Economy

Strangers—friends, who are you?/ Where did you sail from, over the running sea-lanes?

The weary voyagers in Homer’s poem will relate their adventures after they have bathed, been clothed and offered a meal; that is, only after they have been made to feel at home. The link between storytelling and domesticity is as old as literature itself.

The conference enquires into this fundamental relationship by examining the extraordinary range of Elizabethan and Jacobean texts that engage with daily domestic life at a time when reformed religion and an emergent market economy were reshaping pre-modern notions of the household. Crowded with servants, apprentices, customers, and retainers as much as with housewives, husbands, and children; filled with an unprecedented abundance of objects and luxury goods; moulded by the performance of increasingly desacralised social rituals, the early modern home exhibits an unruly vitality that the most creative authors of the period locate at the very heart of literary discourse.


We invite scholars of all career stages to submit their proposals for 20-minute papers and 60-minute round tables consisting of three or four speakers. Topics will cover aspects of early modern textualities with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on domesticity.

Suggestions include the following:

• Household management, husbandry, and the consumerist revolution
• Housing, property law, and contractual relationships
• The politics of the family as a small commonwealth or state
• Women in sermons, mothers’ manuals and marriage handbooks
• Domestic space and gendered roles
• Intimate spaces, sexualities, and selfhood
• Outcasts, vagrancy and homelessness
• Everyday transactions: letters, diaries and notebooks
• Material culture: buildings, interior decoration, and household possessions
• Dwelling and existential space: the house as a repository of memory
• Work and leisure: masters, servants, idleness and pastimes
• Gardens and horticulture: herbals, hothouses, and science
• The country house, idyllic nature, and the poetics of nostalgia
• Piety and devotional practices: reading Scripture, prayer and
• Night-time and bedside experiences: sleep, illness, and death; nursing and
• Hospitality: entertaining, feasting and gift-giving; food and recipe books
• Neighbours and (lack of) privacy: prying eyes, rumours, gossip and slander
• The use of domestic tropes in literary and related discourses

Invited Speakers

The following plenary speakers have confirmed their participation:

Submitting a Proposal

Please submit your proposals as an email attachment, preferably in Word format, to by 11 February 2022. All proposals must include the following details:

• Full title of paper
• A 200-word abstract
• A 100-word bionote
• Technical requirements for your presentation
• Name, postal and email address
• Institutional affiliation
• Sederi membership status


Technical Considerations

The working language of the conference is English. In the event of giving a screen presentation to support your paper, please note that this presentation should be in MS PowerPoint 97–2003 (.ppt) or .pptx. Both Mac and Windows versions are acceptable; however, in the event of using a Mac to give the presentation, we kindly ask you to bring your own adapter cable.

Download a pdf of the Call for Papers

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