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Washington DC 2012

The 58th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

Washington DC, 22–24 March 2012

Grand Hyatt Washington, National Gallery of Art, & the Folger Shakespeare Library

Jefferson Monument, Washington, DC Elizabethan Theatre, Folger Library

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 24 March 2012. The minutes from that meeting are available for download on our past general meetings page.

RSA Plenaries

Thursday, 22 March 2012 – Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture

Sponsor: Erasmus of Rotterdam Society

Location: Folger Shakespeare Library Theater

John Monfasani, State University of New York, Albany
Erasmus and the Philosophers

Erasmus was famously allergic to the philosophic theology of the medieval scholastics and what he considered their confusion of Christianity with Aristotelian philosophy. But he himself edited the opera omnia of Aristotle in Greek, just as he produced an edition of the philosophically rich opera omnia of St. Augustine. Paul Oskar Kristeller and Michael Screech have noted the Platonic influences in Erasmus's Praise of Folly. Martin Luther accused Erasmus of following in the traces of the ancient Skeptics. Indeed, Erasmus avowed a certain ternderness towards the Academic skeptics. Nor is it difficult to find references in his writings to philosophers and the ancient schools of philosophy. So the questions is: what exactly was Erasmus's attitude toward philosophy and the philosophical tradition from antiquity to his own day? And what philosophical positions did he appropriate, disupte, or show an interest in? Could one consider Erasmus a philosopher malgré lui?

Friday, 23 March 2012 – Plenary Session: The Global Renaissance

Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

Location: Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence Level, Independence Ballroom

Organizer: Alison K. Frazier, University of Texas at Austin

Chair: Hannah Wojciehowski, University of Texas at Austin

Ann Blair, Harvard University
Information Flows in a Global Renaissance: Through Orality, Manuscript, and Print

The European Renaissance witnessed information explosion due both to increased travel to different parts of the world and to the rediscovery of ancient texts. In addition to these external factors, however, new conceptions of proper information management caused the explosion — notably the idea of taking and saving notes on texts and direct experiences. Information flows based on this note-taking were neither uniform nor one-directional. In particular, information was treated differently depending on the form in which it traveled: in manuscript (whether meant to be secret for more-or-less broad diffusion), in print (in different genres to reach different audiences), and/or through direct human transmission. What difference did it make when texts traveled with people rather than by themselves as unaccompanied objects, especially when those people were themselves "documents" of other worlds?

Natalie Rothman, University of Toronto
Mediating a Global Mediterranean: Translation: Commensuration, and Articulation

This paper draws out some of the methodological and conceptual implications of the recent resurgence of the Mediterranean as a historical object for our understanding of the so-called global Renaissance. It considers shifts in the historiography of early modern Mediterranean empires, focusing on the growing scholarship on ethnolinguistic, religious, and juridical boundary-crossing. The paper highlights the importance of processes of mediation, commensuration, and translation in their myriad transimperial settings, and explores how the global Renaissance was articulated from the vantage point of self-proclaimed cultural intermediaries and the variety of genres and state institutions they engaged. These intermediaries and their role in enabling the circulation of texts, ideas, and objects has all too often been assumed, or rendered transparent. This paper suggests that attending to sites of mediation can bring to light the very conditions for envisioning a global Mediterranean, both then and now.

Ken Albala, University of the Pacific
The Renaissance of Food in Global Perspective

While historians have long traced the many global exchanges in ingredients, peoples, and pathogens that took place in the age of encounters, few have looked closely at actual culinary traditions. What traditions of sixteenth- and seventeenth-centry European kitchens were adapted to local conditions, ingredients, and available technologies and why do they survive long after disappearing from European cuisine? There are surprising culinary rudiments dating back to the Renaissance, stretching from the kasutera of Japan to the capirotada of Mexico. This talk will discuss European cookbooks and cooking traditions and the fascinating ways they influenced cooking around the world, long before the era of transnational conglomerate food corporations.

Saturday, 24 March 2012 – Josephine Waters Bennett Lecture

Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

Location: Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence Level, Independence Ballroom

Paula Findlen, Stanford University
The Eighteenth-Century Invention of the Renaissance: Lessons from the Uffizi

It is a canonical fact of Renaissance studies that Jules Michelet, Jacob Burckhardt, and a number of other influential nineteenth-century scholars wrote the Renaissance into existence, which they most certainly did, since no historian before the mid-nineteenth century offered a comprehensive and synthetic account of this era as well-defined period of history. But what inspired and preceded their vision of the Renaissance? This talk explores the eighteenth-century landscape of antiquarianism, historicism, collecting, and art history from which the idea of the Renaissance emerged. It moves away from scholarly encounters in Paris and Basel to the society and culture of Italy in the age of the Grand Tour as the site where this conversation began. Its focal point is the activities surrounding the multiple reinventions of the Uffizi Gallery in the age of the Grand Tour. How did Vasari's building come to house Vasari's Renaissance?


Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS)
Ashgate Publishing Company
Brill Academic Publishers
Cambridge University Press
Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, University of Toronto
David Brown Book Company
Edizioni ETS
Hackett Publishing Company
The Institute of Jesuit Sources
John Wiley and Sons
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Leo Cadogan Rare Books Ltd.
Maney Publishing
The Penn State University Press
Scholar's Choice
Truman State University Press
University of Chicago Press
University of Toronto Press

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