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2013 San Diego Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture
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When: 4/4/2013
Thursday, 4 April 2013, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

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Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture

Sponsor: Erasmus of Rotterdam Society

Organizer: Eric Macphail, Indiana University

Location: Sheraton Marina Tower, Lobby Level, Harbor Island 1

Brian Cummings, University of York

Erasmus and the Invention of Literature

It was once axiomatic that Erasmian humanism had an inaugural place in literary studies. "If you follow my advice," Erasmus says at the opening of De pueris institutiendis, "you will see to it that your infant makes a first acquaintance with a liberal education immediately." This is an education in bonae litterae and in litterae humaniores. In recent years the idea of a liberal education has taken a battering. The study of Erasmus’s literary writings has happily devolved into other areas: into philology, grammar, and rhetoric. But does Erasmus have a concept of "literature" as such? And is it still worthy of debate? I will reexamine the idea of literature in Erasmus, both as a theory of imitation and as a medium of subjectivity, in order to suggest that his concepts are different from the way that we used to understand them and still have the capacity to surprise.

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