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RSA 2020 Philadelphia Calls for Papers
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The Art of Disobedience in Early Modern Europe: Social, Religious, and Aesthetic Insubordination in Wartime

Posted By Carlo Avilio, Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Updated: Sunday, August 4, 2019

The formation of the Modern State witnessed a reinforcement of control over the public sphere. Religion and politics sought to impose well-codified social norms and patterns of behaviour against a background of profound turmoil manifested by various forms of disobedience and dissent among both the ruling and the lower classes.

From Flanders to Italy, passing by the German lands, the Thirty Years' War, a great ‘media event’, contributed to the process of destabilisation with the massive circulation of people, ideas and works of art and literature. The resultant fruitful tension gave rise to new literary and artistic forms (the Picaresque genre for one) challenging basic concepts of social hierarchy, identity, gender and stereotyped beauty.

The panel invites papers exploring the connections and tensions between visual and literary forms reflecting the political, social and religious turmoil in Early Modern Europe.

Topics of interest include:

  • Diffusion of liminal or heterodox devotional images created by lower classes paralleled in contemporary texts
  • Clothing as a means of identity disguise to challenge social rules (‘cross-dressing’)
  • Emergence of female and lower-born characters within the Picaresque genre and in the context of the Thirty Years' War
  • The birth of the ‘mock hero’, a low-life character enacting epic narratives for comic effect
  • Celebration of the ugly and grotesque rather than traditional standards of beauty

Proposals should include:

  • Presenter’s name
  • Academic affiliation (if appropriate)
  • Email address
  • Paper title (15 Words maximum)
  • Abstract (150 Words maximum) + 3-5 Keywords
  • PhD completion date (if appropriate)
  • CV (200 Words maximum)

Proposals by 10th August 2019 to Carlo Avilio ( and Silvia Mostaccio (

Tags:  Disobedience  Early Modern Europe  grotesque beauty  identity disguise  Literature  Picaresque genre  religious heterodoxy  Thirty Years War  Visual arts  warfare 

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