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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Secrets Unlocked: Locks and Keys from Instruments to Symbols of Early Modern Secrecy

23rd February 2016, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Professor Ingrid de Smet, University of Warwick

followed by a drinks reception at the Cafe, Palace Green Library.

This event is part of the IMEMS Openness and Secrecy seminar series for 2015/16.

Please note that places for this event will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To book your place click here

Abstract: In the Renaissance and Early Modern period locks and keys were, as they still are, essential instruments of concealment: produced in an ambience of trade secrecy, locks and keys were surrounded by concerns over access and security, trust, and power. Yet they are (with few notable exceptions in the 1990s) more often studied as material, artisanal objects, than for their representation in text and image. This paper is part of a larger book project on the material culture on Early Modern secrecy: it will examine the notion of secrecy in technical discussions of locksmithing as well as the literary and emblematic symbolism attached to locks and keys.

Ingrid De Smet is Professor of French and Neo-Latin Studies in the School of Modern Languages & Cultures at the University of Warwick and Director of Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance. She specialises in the intellectual culture of late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century France and the Low Countries. For more information on Ingrid's interests and publications, see:

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