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  • Kristin Bundesen, PhD

Diversity in the 15th and 16th Centuries

Academic conference, April 20-21, Edinburgh, Scotland

I've been invited to give the closing address at the Diversity in the 15th and 16th Centuries conference in Edinburgh on Friday, April 21, 2023. Many universities, at least in the United States, are working on diversity albeit bundles as DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion, issues within their institutions. (See this link for a recent contribution on this subject of which I am co-author.) Unsurprisingly, diversity is also a hot topic in the higher education trade press and has entered the political discourse under the cloaking phrase critical race theory. It is helpful to remember that diversity has been an issue since humans first conceived of 'the other'. When the eminent Cambridge historian Mary Beard stated that there was at least some diversity in Roman Britain, she was attacked on social media and in the press. The topic is timely, and timeless.

This conference focuses on diversity in the late medieval and early modern worlds and has drawn presenters and topics from far and wide. The program starts on Thursday April 20 with a luncheon and welcome. Dr. Kit Heyam will be kicking us off with a paper on gender and sexual diversity and will be followed by Rebecca Davis Stevenson talking about Sex and Power - Lessons for today from LGBT diversity in the 15th and 16th centuries. The late afternoon session will look at religious diversity in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and in Reformation Scotland.

Day 2 starts with a dive into Italian Renaissance paratexts that reveal diversity among the elements comprising the literary experience from authorship to readership. Continuing the investigation into the role of the individual experience, the next paper is about women's soft power through their life cycle titled 'From Pawn to Patronage'. Other papers through out this day include a look at mental illness, blood purity in the Basque region, diversity depicted in Italian painting, the Romani people, and the role of performance as an assimilation tool.

I will be giving a paper titled "The Places We've Been: Diversity, Disquisition - and Dunnett". The Dorothy Dunnett Society is the sponsor of the conference. Dunnett's works extend beyond the 15th and 16th century but her two epic series, The House of Niccolo and the Lymond Chronicles are situated in this time period. I hope to help synthesize the presentations and research presented over the previous two days and suggest some additional research pathways for all the presenters and attendees.


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