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Berlin 2015

The Sixty-First Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

Berlin, 26–28 March 2015

Skip ahead to:
Conference Schedule
Conference Venue
Membership and Participation
Berlin Hotel Reservations and Information
Plenaries, Awards, and Special Events Schedule
Special Events Request Form
Travel Grants
Acceptance and Commitment
Information for Prospective Book Exhibitors
Participant FAQs
Guidelines for Panel and Roundtable Participants at the RSA Annual Meeting

Conference Schedule

The scheduled program for the annual meeting in Berlin is now available online. Please note that the Program Calendar function currently works best with touchscreen browsing on tablets and smart phones. To use the Program Calendar on a desktop or laptop, click your mouse inside the calendar and then drag the screen up/down and left/right. The conference mobile app that was introduced for the New York conference will be available for the Berlin conference in January.

Program corrections and other changes were accepted by the RSA office through 1 December 2014. To change your affiliation, please sign in to your RSA member profile and go to Manage Profile > Edit Bio to change any details. The new affiliation will update in the online program within 24 hours. Please note that changes made to your affiliation after mid-December may not be reflected in the printed program. Please be sure to update your email address if necessary, in order to continue to receive important conference announcements.

Conference Venue

The conference panels, distribution of registration materials, all plenary lectures, and the book exhibit will take place at Humboldt University. Sessions will be held in a number of buildings on campus. The Hauptgebäude on Unter den Linden will be the site for registration, the Mann Phillips lecture, the Bennett lecture (according to the current plan), and the book exhibit. We do not have any sessions, lectures, or meetings scheduled at any of the conference hotels. This map does the best job of showing the location of the conference venues and the current list of conference hotels.

Membership and Participation

All accepted conference participants must become members for the calendar year 2015, in addition to registering for the conference. Membership for 2015 is available now. Most current members are enrolled in auto-renewal; auto-renewals are processed on 31 December each year.

Conference Submitters and expired members who are accepted to the conference must renew their membership for the year of the conference.


Registration is open. All conference participants should have registered by 15 November 2014. If your membership has expired or you have a temporary Conference Submitter membership, please renew for 2015 membership first, then register for the conference. Renewing your membership first will allow you to register for the conference at the member rate.


until 19 March from 20 March
(including onsite)
 Member $235 $260
 Student member $145 $165
 Nonmember $335 $360

Berlin Hotel Reservations and Information

Berlin Hotel Reservation Site

Hotel Policies

For the convenience of members, RSA has contracted with a number of Berlin hotels for guest rooms during the 2015 Berlin conference. Hotels are located close to Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where all sessions will be scheduled; please refer to this map for hotel locations relative to the university. Most of the hotels have strict cancellation policies. We urge you to familiarize yourself with the cancellation policies when finalizing your reservation. RSA is not responsible for individual members’ hotel reservations in the event that you cannot participate in the conference or otherwise need to change your reservation. Below we have included summaries of the hotel policies. More complete cancellation information is available within the reservation site.

  • Hilton Berlin
  • NH Berlin Friedrichstrasse
  • Park Inn
  • Radisson Blu
  • Ramada
  • Rocco Forte Hotels (Hotel de Rome)
  • Sofitel
  • Westin

Plenaries, Awards, and Special Events Schedule

Click to view the events scheduled for each day.

  • 7:00–9:00 p.m. — Opening Reception

    Location: Bode Museum

    Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

    Admission to the Opening Reception will be limited to those registered for the conference and bearing a name badge and Opening Reception ticket only due to space limitations in the Bode Museum. Registered attendees may pick up their name badge and ticket at registration, located in the Hauptgëbaude Audimax Cloak Room on Wednesday, 25 March from 2:00–7:00 p.m. Name badges, tickets, and on-site registration will not be available at the Bode Museum. Guest admission tickets will not be sold this year for the Opening Reception.

  • 6:30–8:00 p.m. — Plenary Session: Rethinking Renaissance Humanism in Germany and Italy

    Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

    Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Dorotheenstr. 24/1, 1.101

    Chair: Johannes Helmrath, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

    Jan-Dirk Müller, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich (emeritus)

    Latin and Vernacular Renaissance Literature in Germany

    As opposed to the situation in other countries that had once been part of the Roman Empire and also in England, in Renaissance Germany there was no strong impulse (except in the realm of religion) toward vernacular literature. A nationalist literary scholarship has obscured this fact, placing emphasis instead on vernacular authors, such as Albrecht von Eyb and Niklas von Wyle, who made ancient or contemporary Italian authors available to a German-speaking audience. The resulting picture is distorted, as it was in large part through Latin literature that German lands participated in the European discourse of the Renaissance. I would like to revisit this issue, in part by reconsidering the relationship between vernacular and learned language in authors such as Brant, Erasmus, Luther, and Fischart.

    James Hankins, Harvard University

    Neglected Sources and Themes in Humanist Political Thought

    Since the Second World War “republican liberty” has been emphasized as the central focus of humanist political thought. This focus reflects the cognitive biases of the modern period rather than exhaustive study of the source base. A more comprehensive review of the evidence suggests that humanist political thinking had as its predominant focus the theme of virtue; in consequence it produced a set of shared political assumptions one may label “virtue politics” on the analogy of “virtue ethics.” This paper will discuss virtue politics and call attention to a range of neglected topics in humanist political literature, including the morality of interstate relations; cosmopolitanism; theories of legitimacy; moral standards for governing subject territories; the rise and fall of empires; attitudes to the Roman Republic; anti-Augustinian defenses of pagan Roman virtue; citizen liberties under monarchy; and the critique of legalism and the advocacy of discretionary powers for virtuous rulers.

  • 6:30–7:00 p.m. — RSA Annual Membership Meeting

    Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgëbaude, Unter den Linden 6, Audimax

    All RSA members are invited

    7:00–8:00 p.m. — Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture

    Sponsor: Erasmus of Rotterdam Society

    Organizer: Eric Macphail, Indiana University

    Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgëbaude, Unter den Linden 6, Audimax

    Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

    Renaissance Humanism and Christian Antiquity: Philology, Fantasy, and Collaboration

    This lecture will ask how Renaissance scholars devised their visions of early Christianity. It will begin with a brief review of some of the learned and penetrating literature that has illuminated this subject over the last half century. Then it will trace three themes: how humanists tried to reconstruct Christian antiquity as it really was, using sophisticated critical and antiquarian practices; how humanists, artists, and others invented attractive versions of Christian antiquity, using sophisticated artistic and literary methods; and how humanists and printers learned to work together, and by doing so filled the marketplace with a vast range of material.

  • 5:30–6:00 p.m. — Awards Ceremony

    Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgëbaude, Unter den Linden 6, Audimax

    William Nelson Prize
    Phyllis Goodhart Gordan Book Prize
    Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Book Prize
    Paul Oskar Kristeller Lifetime Achievement Award

    6:00–7:00 p.m. — Josephine Waters Bennett Lecture

    Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

    Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgëbaude, Unter den Linden 6, Audimax

    Horst Bredekamp, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

    Berlin, the Second Florence: Fragments of a Broken Mirror

    From the Baroque era onward, the myth of Florence established by poets, philosophers, and historians from Leonardo Bruni to Giorgio Vasari irresistibly outshone Troy and Rome as the main historic sites of orientation. In Germany, Dresden established its splendor in part as a second Florence. But Berlin cannot be understood without considering its self-reflection in Renaissance Florence. The lecture will reconstruct Berlin’s aim to reactivate Florence as a model and to shift the unparalleled energy of Renaissance Florentine culture from the Arno to the Spree. The lecture’s iter will pass through Berlin's pre- and post-revolutionary culture before and after 1848, the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, the totalitarian aftermath, and the post-war period. It will deal with the special role that Berlin’s buildings, collections, and historic disciplines played for the refiguration of the myth of Florence in the nineteenth and twentieth century: in its greatness and its precarious aspects.

    8:00–10:00 p.m. — Closing Reception

    Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

    Location: Kulturforum, Zentrale Eingangshalle

    Bus transportation will be provided to the Kulturforum from the Bennett lecture.

    Admission to the Closing Reception will be limited to those registered for the conference and bearing a name badge only due to space limitations in the Kulturforum.

Travel Grants

RSA awards a limited number of travel grants to assist speakers who will be traveling to Berlin from outside Europe. These grants are competitive, not guaranteed; the average award is $500. Funding comes from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Renaissance Society of America. Travel grant applications were due at the time of proposal submission, and awards were announced in November.

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Who may apply?

Authors of papers in art history are eligible for Kress grants; they are awarded based on demonstrated need to art historians who lack sufficient travel funds. RSA travel grants are awarded in all disciplines. They support graduate students as well as degree holders without either a tenured or tenure-track position. Application is limited to scholars presenting their research; session organizers, chairs, respondents, or roundtable participants will not be considered for funding.

When are grants awarded?

RSA committees reviewed all applications, and submitted a list of Kress candidates to the Kress Foundation for further review. Upon receiving good news from the Kress Foundation, RSA announced travel grant decisions in November.


Acceptance and Commitment

Accepted participants or their sponsoring institution/organization must plan to fund their own travel and lodging expenses in addition to the membership and conference fees. The registration fee is used to pay for conference facilities and events, audio-visual expenses, receptions, printed and electronic program materials, and the year-round staffing needed to produce the conference. Because these expenses are incurred all year long, the registration fee is not refundable.

Acceptance to the conference is a commitment to attend. If you are accepted to the conference but find that you are in fact unable to participate, you are obliged to inform both the organizer of your session and RSA as soon as possible, and no later than the registration deadline. To withdraw from the conference after the registration deadline, except in cases of emergency, is discourteous to your colleagues and is considered unacceptable by RSA. If you cannot attend the conference, your paper may not be read by someone else and you will not be listed in the program.

Preliminary conference information

Information for Prospective Book Exhibitors

Participant FAQs

Annual Meeting Submission Guidelines (submissions for Berlin are closed)

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