Academic Programs

Several types of interdisciplinary academic programs offered each year are designed to explore the latest research in the early modern period or in some of the special areas represented in the Clark's collections.

Center/Clark Professorship
One or more distinguished scholars are appointed each year to the Center/Clark Professorship; tenure ranges from one quarter to an academic year, depending on the number of appointments. The Center/Clark Professor, in collaboration with the Director, organizes academic programs consisting of public lectures, seminars, and workshops, and develops publications from them. If not already affiliated with UCLA, the Center/Clark Professor holds a visiting appointment in one of the departments and participates in its instructional activities.

Core Programs
The heart of the Center/Clark's academic activity is its annual core program—a series of interdisciplinary events developed around a common theme. This organizing principle allows for great flexibility in format and scope: core programs may range from three or four consecutive workshops to a series spanning a year or more, with a full complement of symposia, workshops, graduate seminars, and public lectures, held at the Clark or at UCLA. Core programs are organized each year by the current Center/Clark Professor or Professors, who are encouraged to design programs that will lead to publication in the Center/Clark series. The Center's Ahmanson-Getty theme-based fellowships are linked to the core programs as well.

Our current core program for 2014–2015 is:

Explorations, Encounters, and the Circulation of Knowledge, 1600–1830
Organized by Adriana Craciun (UC Riverside) and Mary Terrall (UCLA)

The circulation of knowledge, objects, and people has attracted scholarly attention in recent years from a variety of disciplines.  The core program for 2014–15 will draw on several strands of this scholarship to examine how knowledge was shaped by long-distance voyages and encounters in the global seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  We are particularly interested in the possibilities of transcultural analyses that explore how knowledge and culture were transformed by the entanglements of voyagers and locals, in Europe and beyond. The program will bring together scholars of the history of science, art history, literature, anthropology, geography, maritime history, and material texts to discuss new approaches to these questions.

Session 1: Explorations and Encounters: New Directions
November 14–15, 2014
This conference considers the new directions emerging in studies of exploration and encounters from roughly 16001830. Exploration history has been transformed in the last decades of the twentieth century by a welcome turn to postcolonial and feminist critiques of the grand narratives of discovery and progress that had characterized the field in the past. Increasingly in the twenty-first century, indigenous perspectives of such encounters are no longer presented as a counter-history to that of mobile Europeans who initiated a "fatal impact" into a static, local culture. Instead, practices of indigenous people are often central to symmetrical approaches that consider ambiguities, uncertain outcomes, and contingencies in these encounters. This conference will bring together scholars conducting innovative work on how diverse voyages and voyagers, indigenous and European, mutually constituted (not without conflict) knowledge and aesthetic practices across cultural lines.

Session 2: Geographies of Inscription
Feb. 6–7, 2015
The "geography of the book" has gained prominence in recent years as the spatialized counterpart to the established field of the history of the book. This conference places inscriptions printed or handwritten on paper, bound or unbound, alongside inscriptions on skin, wood, stone, monuments, metal, instruments, structures, earth, and other materials.  Collectively participants will consider how the geography of such inscriptions can contribute to current studies of 17th- and 18th-century empire, trade, exploration, cosmopolitan exchange, scientific collaboration, translation, and aesthetic collaboration. Through a geography of inscription we hope to illuminate new contact zones, including a transdisciplinary zone for creating innovative scholarship.  This will allow us to consider  how diverse agents, instruments, and materials of inscriptions in turn reveal new insights about writers, books, printers, publishers, and their networks.  Can geographies of inscription help in the larger efforts to work outside the paradigms of empire and colonization, center and periphery, and national print culture, which do not always serve 17th- and 18th-century studies well? Do they suggest alternative networks for the circulations of goods, books, people, and objects in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Session 3: Commerce, Culture, and Natural Knowledge
May 15–16, 2015
Recent work on global trade in the early modern world has examined the impact of commercial networks and the objects they exchanged on European knowledge of nature.  Commercial concerns shaped the collection and trade in artificial and natural curiosities (in the metropolis and in the field), the enslavement and transportation of people, as well as the transplantation of natural resources for exploitation in imperial sites. This conference will gather scholars working on commerce, science, and material culture in the early modern world, with the specific goal of addressing issues raised by the circumstances of encounter and exchange, aiming to complicate this picture by developing some of the symmetries outlined above.

Our forthcoming core programs are:

The Frontiers of Persian Learning: The Constraints of the Cosmopolitan for an Islamic Lingua Franca,

Organized by Nile Green (UCLA)

Conferences and Workshops
The Center and the Clark organize and sponsor interdisciplinary conferences and workshops, usually at the Clark, which bring scholars from throughout the world to UCLA to explore specific issues and to develop innovative interpretative approaches. On occasion these symposia are arranged in association with other campus departments or with other institutions. Some of the proceedings are published, either in the Center/Clark series or in journals.

All programs for the current year can be viewed on our calendar.

Working Groups
The Center's Working Groups foster discussion of research issues and the exchange of work-in-progress among faculty, post-doctoral scholars, and graduate students at UCLA and in the Los Angeles area. Graduate students or faculty may propose reading or writing groups, workshops, lecture series with local scholars, and interdisciplinary exchanges.  To learn more about working groups, please click here.

Early Modern Studies Certificate
Graduate students currently pursuing an M.A. or a Ph.D. at UCLA are eligible to apply for this certificate program. Certificate requirements include four approved courses in early modern studies, and an article-length essay that reflects the interdisciplinary goals of the program. The program offers a guaranteed summer mentorship to support work on this essay. For more information, please click here.