CFP: Constructing Historical Narrative in Early Modern Europe

Call for Proposals

We are seeking proposals for chapter contributions to an edited volume currently in progress:

At the intersection of reflections on historiographical theory and writing practices, the construction of historical narratives during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries helped make sense of a wide array of human experiences. The process of constructing historical narratives aimed to reinforce the coherence of these human experiences by contextualizing historical ideas within what became deliberately configured, accepted, but also debated and conflictual representations of the past. This collective volume analyzes the strategies that historians of all kinds used and the tactics that historical actors relied on when thinking about their place in early modern societies, in a period marked by religious upheaval, political conflict, changes in the sites of knowledge production, and expanding geographies.
Each contribution will focus on individuals, groups, and sources involved in the construction of historical narratives. Collectively, the volume investigates how social and political relations were reinforced and/or criticized on the local and global levels; how groups of historians formed, communicated, and came to shared definitions of appropriate materials; and, most generally, how historical thinking influenced the deployment of knowledge across time and space. Contributors will collectively analyze four genres of historical narratives that experienced unprecedented booms during the 16th and 17th centuries:

1. Family Histories: This section aims to uncover how family narratives, genealogical texts, and/or images provided ways of establishing personal and small group identities and to examine how familial memory overlapped with larger socio-political concerns. This section also seeks to understand how local knowledge communities of various kinds came to negotiate and define familial identities and genealogical connections, and how other historiographical actors adopted and put these connections to use in an attempt to elaborate broader historical narratives.
2. Community Histories: The second emphasis of the volume examines how localized communities, whether urban, religious, or professional, developed narratives about their pasts, both ancient and recent. It further asks how such narratives interacted and influenced each other, as they were read in parallel and recombined, and what stakes were set in doing so. Ultimately, this section asks to what extent early modern historians were seeking to recompose the general history of Europe from the local and fragmented histories of its cities, corporations, religious bodies, and institutions.
3. Migration Histories: The third part of the volume will study how individual and group migrations, forced or not, fostered the writing of narratives across connected cultural spaces within Europe or beyond. It asks whether these narratives provided a wide array of historical writers with a tool with which to communicate about human socio-political connections across jurisdictional borders and geographical frontiers on a transcultural scale.
4. Readings of Natural and Sacred Environments: The last focus of the volume seeks to reflect on how writing and visualizing the Past–recent or ancient–complemented the aforementioned family, community, and migration narratives by applying historical approaches to non-human sites and subjects, particularly the natural environment, sacralized spaces, and collections.

The volume will be edited by Megan Armstrong, McMaster University; Hilary Bernstein, UC Santa Barbara; and Fabien Montcher, Saint Louis University. We are currently in conversation with an editor about publication.

Each chapter contribution to this volume must address some of the questions raised in at least one of the emphases outlined above and must be in English and no more than 10,000 words, including all notes and images. Contributions will be due by July 1, 2022.

To participate, please send a proposal, in English, of no more than 600 words and a brief c.v. to Megan Armstrong at by September 1, 2021. You will hear by October 15, 2021 if your proposal to contribute a chapter to the volume has been accepted. We will accept proposals from authors at any stage from advanced graduate students to senior scholars.

For questions, please feel free to send an email to any of the editors, at; or