Welcome to the EMC Homepage
Girl Aged 4   —Oliver, Isaac 

The Early Modern Center ("EMC") at UCSB mobilizes the English department's strength in sixteenth- through eighteenth-century studies, which is maintained by seven faculty members in the field. The EMC has created a specially-constructed space (consisting of a seminar area, resource library, and networked computers) that promotes collaborative research and teaching. The EMC also creates graduate and undergraduate courses around innovative annual themes; organizes colloquia and conferences; supervises the department's undergraduate specialization in Early Modern Studies; and offers a graduate student assistantship each year. The EMC also hosts several groundbreaking digital humanities initiatives. The English Broadside Ballad Archive ("EBBA") digitizes, transcribes, and catalogues the images from extant early modern ballad collections in order to improve scholarly and public access. To date, EBBA has received four National Endowment for the Humanities grants and has transcribed more than seventy-five percent of surviving seventeenth-century ballads. The Early Modern British Theater: Access ("EMBTA"), meanwhile, assembles and digitizes multimedia resources relating to the history of early modern British theater and dramatic literature. Finally, the EMC is in the process of creating an online publishing platform, the emcIMPRINT, to offer an innovative open access venue for scholarly work. Graduate students from the EMC are involved at a number of levels with these digital humanities projects.

This Year's EMC Events


Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, 2016: Annual EMC Conference: "Play’s the Thing: Phenomenology and Play in Early Modern Literature, 1500-1800," with Keynote Speakers Laura Engel (Duquesne University), James A. Knapp (Loyola University Chicago), and Bruce Smith (University of Southern California).

Conference Website


Thursday, October 1, 2015: Roze Hentschell (Colorado State University): "Church, Playhouse, Market, Home: The Cultural Geography of St. Paul's Precinct, 1561-1625," SH 2635, 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM, to be followed by reception in the Sankey Room


Friday, November 13, 2015: A Playful Conversation with Julie Carlson and Aranye Fradenburg. Readings will be precirculated. Sankey Room (South Hall 2623), 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM.


Thursday, November 19, 2015: Talk by Julie Park (Vassar): "Making Storylines in the Country House Poem: Interiority and the Play of Perspective in Marvell's Upon Appleton House, SH 2635, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Andrew Marvellís Upon Appleton House is known for exemplifying the seventeenth-century genre of the country house poem while also disrupting its conventions. This paper suggests the generic liminality of Marvellís poem anticipates the development of the domestic novel and its signature interiority. That the poet in Upon Appleton House is conscious of his perspective as perspective in different parts of the estate that he roams throughout the poem models a new psychological experience of the manor house as an interactive environment rather than a fixed symbol of the ownerís virtues. This paper will focus on the playful distortions of scale and anamorphic imagery in the poemís meadow section as unrecognized precedents for the narrative technique of point of view. It is this technique that produces the following century's shape-shifting stories of mind taking place on country house estates, from Richardson to Austen.

Julie Park is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College, as well as a Visiting Research Associate at Caltech and a Resident Scholar of the Huntington Library.


April 7, 2016: Symposium on "Cognition, Phenomenology, Play," with Jaak Panksepp and Kay Young. McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020), 3:00 PM

Jaak Panksepp is a psychologist, a psychobiologist, a neuroscientist, the Baily Endowed Chair of Animal Well-Being Science for the Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology at Washington State University’s College of  Veterinary Medicine, and Emeritus Professor of the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. Panksepp coined the term “affective neuroscience,” the name for the field that studies the neural mechanisms of emotion. He is known in the popular press for his research on laughter in non-human animals.

Kay Young is a Professor received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1992 and completed an Academic Fellowship at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in LA in 2011. Her central interests include literature and mind; the nineteenth-century English novel; classical Hollywood film; aesthetics; narrative; and comedy. She is author of Ordinary Pleasures: Couples, Conversation and Comedy and various essays on the works of Jane Austen, George Eliot, Søren Kierkegaard, John Muir, James Joyce, Stephen Sondheim, and most recently on the intersections of science, art, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, narrative, and aesthetics in forthcoming or already published volumes. Professor Young’s book on consciousness and the nineteenth-century English novel is entitled, Imagining Minds: The Neuro-Aesthetics of Austen, Eliot, and Hardy.

Sponsored by the IHC series "The Humanities and the Brain."


May 19, 2016: Bliss-Zimmerman Memorial Lecture with Gail Kern Paster (Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly and Director Emerita of the Folger Shakespeare Library), Henley Board Room (Mosher Alumni House), 4:00 PM


Current Projects at the EMC

The English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA)

The English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA) makes 17th-century broadside ballads accessible as text, art, music, and cultural records. To date the archive includes over 5,000 ballads--more than half of the estimated 10,000 extant 17th-century ballads. EBBA's holdings are free and open to the public.

*In the Winter of 2014, graduate students in Patricia Fumerton's "Popular Print and Ballad Culture" seminar are participating in a series of hands-on projects:


The emcIMPRINT is an innovative open access venue for scholarly work and communication. We would like to combine 4 virtues of our print media inheritance:

  1. Patient and rigorous care with writing, anonymous peer-review, editing & publishing
  2. Meet exacting standards of correctness
  3. A publication event of all-at-once presentation to the public
  4. A permanence that equals or approaches that of a printed product
with four virtues of new computable media:
  1. The speed, cheapness, and global reach of Internet publication
  2. By exploiting the plasticity of a computer-enabled interface, we could enjoy to the productive integration of traditionally separate functions of writing, editing & design
  3. Incorporation of text,image, sound, video, database, etc. to become multimedia
  4. The final transmission of the publication to reader could benefit from earlier format and design decisions
Examples of early publications under the emcIMPRINT

The Early Modern British Theater: Access (EMBTA)

The Early Modern British Theater: Access assembles and digitizes multimedia resources relating to the history of British theater and dramatic literature during the period 1500-1800, our goal being to help students understand early modern theater as a multisensorial and collaborative art form. EMBTA is unique in that most archives on English drama either begin or end with the mid-17th-century closure of theaters by Puritan officials during Englandís Civil Wars, and while post-1660 theater was in many ways radically different from the theater of Shakespeare, this archive aims to make apparent both the continuities and innovations in British theater over these three centuries.


EMC Gallery

The Early Modern Center Gallery is a featured resource of the center, containing reproductions of many important period images in thumbnail, browser, and large high-quality sizes. A random image from the Gallery is sampled below.

Annunciation with St. Elidius.  Crivelli, Carlo Giovanni,  15th century. AltarpieceNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.