I participated in the Newberry’s Consortium of Renaissance Studies (CRS) Virtual Work-in-Progress Colloquium on May 21, 2020. Under the broad temporal term of Renaissance studies, this CRS program brought together a wide range of scholars representing many disciplines, and was exactly what I needed. My paper, “Site of Power: Mariana of Austria and the Palace of Uceda, 1679-1700,” was part of an ongoing project that seeks to understand the role of Queen Mariana’s residence in the Palace of Uceda during the later decades of the seventeenth century, from cultural, political, and diplomatic perspectives. The one-hour Work-in-Progress Colloquium was perfectly adapted to the new COVID-19 age, deftly organized and run with military precision and humanistic flair. Each of the participants had ten minutes for their presentations with screen-share for slides, followed by a Q&A session moderated by the organizers through the Zoom chat. Presenters and attendees had the chance to stay afterwards to mingle and a group of us stayed to take advantage of the opportunity.
This colloquium is the first of a series that will continue during the next few months and part of a well-thought out body of activities, including the Newberry Pre-modern Writing Support Network, with weekly check-ins and optional meetings and small groups for additional support. In taking up the lead in providing early modernists with an intellectually stimulating and supportive space, the Newberry Library’s CRS has not only filled the gap traditionally occupied by the conferences, scholarly meetings, and research trips abroad that typically characterize the spring and summer months, but is also helping create new scholarly networks. I look forward to the forthcoming events during the summer and the fall and suspect that the seeds planted during these new times will germinate in new ways of collaborations and interactions in the future.
Silvia Z. Mitchell
Associate Professor of History