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Textual Ambassadors
Texts played a crucial part in diplomatic practice between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Works of literature were sent as diplomatic gifts. Dramatic and poetic productions at court were invested with diplomatic meaning. Diplomats were writers, patrons and consumers of all kinds of literary works. As public and private figures, they moved books across borders. Embassies were sites of cultural exchange and literary texts – whether printed, manuscript or oral – became an important tool in what we now call cultural diplomacy. These ‘textual ambassadors’ were critical in communicating and mediating cultural difference both within Europe and between Europe and the wider world. Our network aims to investigate these interlocking literary and diplomatic cultures through two workshops and one conference. It brings together experts in diplomatic history, literary criticism and theory, cultural studies, court studies, book history and ethnographic literature. This international and interdisciplinary network is organised by Tracey Sowerby (Oxford) and Joanna Craigwood (Cambridge).
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