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Early Modern Conversions Project

Early Modern Conversions: Religions, Cultures, Cognitive Ecologies is a multi-disciplinary project with sites for research at universities around the world. U-M is one of the funded sites for primary research. A grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRH) of Canada provides the primary funding for the five-year project, including support for graduate student research. McGill University in Montreal is the home of the project, which is directed by Professor Paul Yachnin.

The goal of Early Modern Conversions is to rethink early modern Europe as an “Age of Conversion.” We seek to develop an historical understanding of conversion that will address corporeal, sexual, epistemological, psychological, trans-human, political, and spiritual kinds of transformation. Among the topics we explore are the ways in which early modern Europeans changed their confessional, social, political, gender, and sexual identities; the geo-political reorientation of Europe in light of changing or emerging relations with Islam and the Americas; the rethinking and the translation of Greek and Latin Antiquity; the rethinking and transformations of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; changes in and changing uses of the built environment, including the growth of cities and nation states; the development of science and technology; and of course, the reimagining of God. We think in terms of ecologies rather than epistemes.

Steven Mullaney (English) and Valerie Traub (English and Women's Studies) are co-participants in Conversions. George Hoffmann (French) and Hussein Fancy (History) are collaborating participants.

The Institute for the Humanities serves as a full partner in the program. Its director, Professor Sidonie Smith, serves on the project advisory board. The institute provided funding for on-campus activities, including a “Conversions” graduate student fellowship that was offered in 2014, 2015, and 2016. The institute also hosted two major events in 2016, the Summer Seminar for Younger Scholars (to be conducted by Mullaney and Yachnin) and the annual Early Modern Conversions Symposium.

See the Conversions website at for more information.