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Berlin 2015

The 61st Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

Berlin, 26–28 March 2015

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Conference program

A PDF version of the full program is available here

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the RSA was held on 27 March 2015. The minutes from that meeting are available for download on our past general meetings page.

RSA Plenaries

Thursday, 26 March 2015 – 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.

Friday, 27 March 2015 – Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture

Sponsor: Erasmus of Rotterdam Society

Organizer: Eric Macphail, Indiana University

Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgebäude, 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.

Saturday, 28 March 2015 – Josephine Waters Bennett Lecture

Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

LocationHumboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Hauptgebäude, 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.


Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS)
Ashgate Publishing Company
Biblioteca Hertziana, Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome
Boydell & Brewer
Brepols and Harvey Publishers
Brill Academic Publishers
Cambridge University Press
Cornell University Press
De Gruyter
Dietrich Reimer Verlag GmbH
Harvard University Press
Iberoamericana Librería y Editorial Vervuert
IRSA Artibus et Historiae
Karger Publishers
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz
Leo Cadogan Rare Books Ltd.
Leuven University Press
Librairie Droz
Maney Publishing
Oxford University Press
Princeton University Press
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
The Scholar's Choice
University of Chicago Press

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