It is with great regret that we announce that we have taken the difficult decision to postpone for twelve months this year’s SRS Conference, which was due to take place from July 6-9, 2020. The conference will remain in Norwich, but will now take place on June 29–July 1, 2021 (preceded by the inaugural public lecture on the evening of June 28, 2021). This has not been an easy decision to make, but we firmly believe it is the right decision in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our primary consideration is the wellbeing of our delegates, who will have many uncertainties to contend with during this enormously difficult period – we hope that by taking early, decisive action, we have at least removed one such uncertainty. Given, too, the grave financial implications of a later cancellation, it would be negligent to the Society as well as to our delegates to adopt a wait-and-see approach.
We recognise that postponement does not affect our colleagues equitably: it will doubtless be easier for those in more secure positions to commit at this stage to attend a conference next year than for graduate students or those on precarious contracts. We do not seek falsely to minimise that inequity, and we can only apologise to those who will now miss out on the opportunity to present their papers. Nevertheless, we feel it is right to postpone rather than cancel the conference. COVID-19 has magnified and intensified the many uncertainties of the academic profession. By rescheduling the conference, as opposed to cancelling it, our intention is to offer a gesture of hope for the future that such large face-to-face, international gatherings will remain an invaluable part of interdisciplinary research, career-development, and community building, across the many fields of Renaissance studies of which we are so proud.
We are delighted to announce that all four of our plenary lecturers, Dr John-Paul A. Ghobrial, Professor Jan L. de Jong, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, and Professor Jessica Wolfe, have each been able to give their in principle commitment still to present their lectures in Norwich in 2021. We sincerely hope that as many of you as possible will also still be able to join us. In order for us to get an initial sense of the potential take-up for the rescheduled conference (29 June-1 July 2021) we ask delegates to let us know ‘in principle’ whether or not you might be able still to participate next year by emailing us at SRS.email@example.com by 31 March 2020. We recognise that this is only an in principle statement at this stage, given the uncertainty of what next year will bring. Every single delegate’s individual paper remains accepted and can be reconfirmed, whether it was an individual submission or part of a panel. Where one or more individual panel members are still able to give papers, but your fellow panelists are not, we will undertake to place you on a new panel or you have the opportunity to form your own new panel (informing us of your arrangements by the deadline for the new call for papers below).
To enable new colleagues to join us in Norwich in 2021 we will reopen the call for papers, with a deadline of 31 August 2020. This is also the point at which we require all our existing delegates to make a firm (rather than in principle) commitment to participate in SRS 2021. If you wish, you may change the title and topic of your original paper, but you must inform us of your decision by this date.
All conference registration fees and accommodation that has been booked through UEA’s Conference Shop will be refunded automatically. We are grateful for your patience here: our administrative team will be working hard on this, but it will take time. Please do not contact us about refunds in the meantime. The SRS has set up a limited hardship fund to help graduate students, precariously employed or unemployed colleagues who are members of the Society and have already incurred travel expenses which they are able to demonstrate they will not be able to reclaim or have refunded. To apply to this fund, please make an individual application to the Society Treasurer, Dr Hannah Murphy: firstname.lastname@example.org. Claims should be made by no later than 1 May; funds will be apportioned thereafter.
It remains our firm hope that as many of you as possible will join us in Norwich in 2021, to share your research and your comradeship, and to allow us to share with you the delights of Renaissance England’s second city. The SRS is a community of scholars, and so postponing the conference will be a disappointment, we know, but being a community of scholars also gives us the determination to come together again in the future with renewed energy, vision, and good humour. We can only close by saying that we do hope that you and those close to you remain safe during this uniquely difficult time.
With thanks and best wishes,
The SRS Norwich 2020 2021 Organizing Committee