Outcomes of the Recent Prato Consortium Meeting

Jonathan Davies
Jonathan Davies of Warwick University presented a public lecture during Med-Ren month at Prato

Members of the Prato Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies met in Prato over two days in December to discuss future plans. The meeting had a great deal of energy, with members determined to collaborate to bring about realizable outcomes. A summary of the outcomes of the meeting follows below.

Present were: Maartje van Gelder (Amsterdam), Jonathan Davies, Rosa Salzburg (Warwick), Kate Lowe (Queen Mary, Univ. of London), Nick Terpstra, Konrad Eisenbichler (Toronto), and Peter Howard (Monash).  In attendance: Cecilia Hewlett (Director, Monash University Prato Centre), Sarah Gore (Administration: Monash University Prato Centre). (Maria Raffaella de Grammatica, Archivio di Stato di Prato – meeting on the Tuesday afternoon). There was also written input from Monica Azzolini (Edinburgh). Apologies: Robert Bjork (Arizona); Jill Burke and Monica Azzolini (Edinburgh).

Outcomes of the meeting

1. A decision to pursue a common research project encompassing poverty and migration and movement (with key words such as vulnerability, charity, religion, medicine, hospitals, confraternities, politics). The theme utilizes the research strength of partners, will focus on the resources of the Archivio di Stato di Prato will be the focus, though the context will be comparative. Several of us relished the opportunity to go behind the scenes with the Director of the ASP, Raffaela de Grammatica. Workshops will provide the forum to develop the project(s) within the frameworks of the national grant bodies of partner institutions.  The Monash Prato Centre will host a protected web-site to advance the project: research tools, archival catalogues, bibliography, exchange/conceptual development. (Cecilia Hewlett will be communicating about this shortly).

2. A decision to pursue common and enhanced graduate training, especially in language and palaeography. Members will develop a common framework that makes use of:

  • the  online course of the Medici Archive Project (supplemented by the Newberry Libary)
  • specific on-site training (focussed on the Archivio di Stato, Prato), taking advantage of the “Text and Community” Monash unit, and the expertise of Michele Mulchahey (PIMS) was noted as one of the great assets of the Consortium.
  • developing distance/video learning
  • joint supervisions. (Peter Howard has also met separately with and made submissions to Warwick representatives about this idea).
  • sponsorship of sessions at conferences with a good mix of established scholars and postgraduates.

3. A decision to focus on the Renaissance Society of America annual conference for PCMRS sponsorship of  sessions, and the context for a meeting.  The meetings in New York (27-29 March 2014) and then Berlin (26-28 March 2015) will give the opportunity to integrate postgrads with established scholars.

4. A decision to pursue further cooperation to enlarge the Med-Ren footprint at Prato.  Arizona’s July-August 2013 intensive is a step in that direction.

5. A decision to adopt the 2012 model for the meeting, viz. interface between PCMRS scholars, postgraduates, honours students and undergraduates:  public lectures, postgraduate conference, undergraduate involvement.  At the postgraduate ‘conference’ held on the second day of our meeting (11 December), in addition to postgrads from Monash, there was one from Edinburgh, and another from Leuven.

6. Members, as far as possible, wish to meet twice a year to maintain momentum, and ongoing strategic planning.

Pursuing a funding base for the above was a thread woven through all discussion.