Annual Lecture

Every year, the Utrecht Centre for Early Modern Studies organises a lecture by an internationally acclaimed scholar. The lecture is held in English and is aimed at a broad audience. This year, our guest is Sir Noel Malcolm. In 2023, the lecture was delivered by Prof. Tess Knighton. Earlier speakers were researchers such as Prof. Alec Ryrie and Prof. Linda Briggs.

Annual Lecture 2024

Early Modern Europe & the Origins of Modern Homosexuality by Sir Noel Malcolm

6 May 2024
17:00-18:00h, followed by a drinks reception
Drift 21, room 1.05 (please note that this space is not wheelchair accessible).

Please register through this form. Spaces are limited. 

Modern scholarship on the history of homosexuality has identified two very different patterns of male-male sexual relations in early modern Europe. Before 1700, it is argued, such behaviour was essentially different from modern homosexuality: it involved men having sex only with teenaged boys (not other men), and it implied nothing about a distinctive sexual orientation or identity, being purely ‘acts-based’. But around 1700, it is also claimed, something much closer to modern homosexuality emerged quite suddenly in England, France and the Netherlands: this did involve a sense of identity, as well as a special subculture. Why such a major change should have occurred so rapidly has never been explained. This lecture offers a new approach to the whole issue, making it possible to give, for the first time, a coherent account of all the evidence.

Sir Noel Malcolm
Sir Noel Malcolm is Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His main research interests are in British and European early modern history – especially, but not only, intellectual history. His work on the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) has led him into the many areas of Hobbes's own work: not only political philosophy, but also ethics, metaphysics, theology, biblical criticism and optics. Malcolm has published editions of his Correspondence (2 vols., Oxford, 1994) and of Leviathan (3 vols., Oxford, 2012), as well as a volume of essays, Aspects of Hobbes (Oxford, 2002). Another interest concerns Western knowledge of, and involvement in, the Ottoman / Islamic world. In 2001 Malcolm gave the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford on 'Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought'; in 2010 he gave the Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge on 'Early Modern Europe's Encounters with Islam'. There are some connections between this and his on-going interest in Balkan history – especially the history of the Albanian.

Domenico Campagnola, Two kneeling youths in a landscape (c. 1511-1562), British Museum