We are very sad to have to announce the cancellation of the Society for Renaissance Studies conference that was due to take place in Norwich from 29 June to 1 July 2021.
As you will know, when we postponed the original conference in March last year, we had hoped that we would be able to host this gathering in person in summer 2021 at the Carrow Road conference facilities in Norwich city centre. We found great enthusiasm among our delegates for the possibility of an in-person gathering, if the current state of the pandemic were to permit it, and the team at Carrow Road has been generous and resourceful in imagining how a socially-distanced conference might have taken place. However, as we face a worsening COVID-19 pandemic, with further lockdowns and social distancing protocols — and despite the hope offered by vaccination programmes across the world — it has become absolutely clear that it is not going to be possible to hold a large, international conference in person in Norwich this summer.
We had hoped that it would be possible to offer an online version of the conference, and we have spent the last months exploring every online option available to us. However, despite the best efforts of our conference and events team, it has become clear that our institution does not currently have the online infrastructure to support such a large-scale conference, and other out-sourced online alternatives would be both prohibitively expensive and threaten to place untenable burdens on our small team of organisers. We have been forced to accept that we could not host an online conference that would remotely provide a satisfying experience, or one for which we could justify to our delegates—especially early career researchers—the significant registration costs that we would still have had to charge.
We know this news must come as a real disappointment and source of frustration to all our delegates. We are hugely grateful for all the careful work that they have put in to developing paper proposals for the conference, arranging panels, offering to mentor or to be mentored, and responding to all our various emails. Even though the SRS 2021 conference will not now take place, we hope some of this work, at least, will not be entirely wasted, and that the research plans or connections developed in the course of preparing for SRS 2021 can still come to fruition in other forms. It goes without saying that we as a committee share in your disappointment — having planned and looked forward to this conference since 2017, we are deeply saddened not to be able to welcome you to the wonderful historic city of Norwich or to be able to recreate properly that scholarly conviviality online. Nevertheless, we hope that by sharing news which, while disappointing, is at least definite, you might be helped in planning your research this academic year as you juggle many competing commitments in your professional and personal lives.
Looking forward, the Ninth Biennial SRS Conference will take place in Liverpool in 2023, and we know that our SRS colleagues there are already busy making plans for what will, no doubt, be a joyous and long-awaited meeting of many members of our international community. As this will be a new conference, hosted in a new city and organised by a new team, rather than a postponed version of the Norwich event, proposals and panels will have to be submitted anew for the 2023 conference rather than being automatically rolled over from the 2020/21 programme. Further information about the dates and call for papers for that gathering will be made available in due course on the Society’s website: www.rensoc.org.uk
We would like to thank you for all your support, patience, and goodwill throughout the past several months. Although we will not be coming together, either in person or online, this summer, we are confident that our scholarly community will continue to flourish in different ways across the coming months, despite ongoing adversity.
With all of our very best wishes,
The SRS 2021 conference committee