In today’s connected and interactive world, it is hard to imagine a time when cultural and intellectual interests did not lead people to associate with others who shared similar views and preoccupations. In this volume of essays, fifteen scholars explore how these kinds of relationships began to transform early modern European culture.
Forms of Association grows out of the “Making Publics: Media, Markets, and Association in Early Modern Europe” (MaPs) project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This scholarly initiative convened an interdisciplinary research team to consider how “publics”—new forms of association built on the shared interests of individuals—developed in Europe from 1500 to 1700. Drawing on a wide array of texts and histories, including the plays of Shakespeare, the legend of Robin Hood, paintings, and music as well as English gossip about France, the contributors develop a historical account of what publics were in early modern Europe. This collaborative study provides a dynamic way of understanding the political dimensions of artistic and intellectual works and opens the way toward a new history of early modernity.
Until his death in 2008, the great Renaissance scholar Richard Helgerson was a key participant in the MaPs project. The scholars featured in this volume originally met in Montreal to engage in a critical, commemorative conversation about Helgerson’s work, the issues and questions coming out of the MaPs project, and how Helgerson’s thinking advanced and could in turn be advanced by MaPs. This collection represents the fruits of that conversation.