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 2013–2014 is:

Iberian Globalization of the Early Modern World
Organized by Anna More (UCLA/Universidade de Brasília) and Ivonne del Valle (UC Berkeley)

Iberian imperialism was one of the first attempts to link the globe through supposedly universal values, in this case derived from Christianity. Yet Spanish and Portuguese monarchies strove to achieve this global reach with technological, scientific, and juridical practices that accompanied and at times competed with their evangelical pursuits. These attempts to overhaul vast cultural territories between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries resulted in a variety of consequences and responses, from absolute upheavals, to compromises and new syntheses. The purpose of this core program is to examine the radical changes that Iberian empires brought to areas such as land tenure, technological practices, racial classifications, and cultural expression in light of the deep histories of the indigenous, African, and Asian regions they affected. Through this investigation, we wish to arrive at a more precise concept of globalization in its early modern guise.

Session 1: Contested Cultures of the Sacred, Oct. 25, 2013
This conference will address the role of religion in the transformation of pre-Hispanic, African and Asian worlds into Westernized milieus. It will address Christianity not as dogma but as a flexible corpus of ideas and practices engaged by the different local populations in novel ways. Sessions may investigate the relationship between religion and the arts (theater, painting, music) as a source of popular culture that remains significant even now. Likewise, since evangelization had the double task of Christianizing and civilizing the native populations, another field covered will be the impact of religion, both Christian and native, in a variety of non-religious practices and institutions such as knowledge production, the university, and politics. Through these themes, the conference will question the sharp divide between a religious and a secular base for modern societies.

Session 2: Instrumental Transformations: Technology, Labor, Nature, Feb. 28, 2014
While often supposedly a neutral instrument for gathering knowledge or transforming nature, technology, understood broadly as an instrumental practice toward a material end, had an enormous impact on the creation of a colonial world. Mining, cattle, agriculture, urbanism itself, radically transformed not only the environment of the newly acquired territories, but through this, the relationships of people to their surroundings, their practices and to themselves. Furthermore, the labor required for new endeavors such as mining, pearl diving, and textile production was frequently secured by the forced relocation of local or external populations, and therefore the uprooting of cultural practices, including technological and scientific, that had preceded the colonial ones. Drawing on new work in history of science, labor and cultural studies, panels will address the material effects, both designed and unintended, of technological practices in the Iberian empires.

Session 3: New Ideas and their Global Locations, May 2–3, 2014
This conference will explore the changes brought about to the traditional epistemologies and imaginary structures of both Europeans and non-Europeans when faced with the consequences of Iberian expansion. Reflecting the creative spaces in which ideas took form, it will consider not only such emerging genres as the novel but also those more prevalent in Iberian colonies, such as histories, sermons, theater and poetry. Through these it will address the responses of European and colonial authors to the massive challenges posed by the novelty, violence and desire unleashed in global expansion. At the same time panels will also consider the impact of non-written cultures on erudite culture, as well as ways that ideas circulated outside of the written word. Panels will thus explore how knowledge was produced through processes of exchange that involved all sectors of society, including African and indigenous peoples.

Our forthcoming core programs are:

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

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.