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San Diego 2013

The 59th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

San Diego, 4–6 April 2013

San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina

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 6 April 2013. The minutes from that meeting are available for download on our past general meetings page.

RSA Plenaries

Thursday, 4 April 2013 – 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.

Friday, 5 April 2013 – Plenary Session: Current Trends in Migration and Cultural Change in the Early Modern World

Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

Location: Marina Tower, Lobby Level, Grande Ballroom

Organizer and Chair: Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto

Ida Altman, University of Florida
Migration and Mobility in the Early Modern Spanish World

As a doctoral student I set out to examine the connections between local society in Spain and emigration to Spanish America. I found that early modern Spaniards were well equipped in terms of their historical experience, family and kinship structures, and patterns of mobility linked to the search for economic opportunity to move into the newly acquired territories of the expanding empire. As they did so they retained many of their traditions and roots in particular localities. Migration and mobility proved to be central to the formation of new societies in Spanish America. The movements of all groups — Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans — were closely interconnected. Mobility and migration — often coerced or occurring under duress in the case of Indians and Africans — to a great extent defined the ordering of and contests over geographic space, and were fundamental to the configuration of early modern Spanish American societies and interethnic relations.

David B. Ruderman, University of Pennsylvania
Jews on the Move: Mobility, Migration, and the Shaping of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe

Mass migrations initiated by governments as well as voluntary migrations of individuals were significant factors in shaping Jewish culture and society from the end of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. I will assess briefly their impact on the creation of new Jewish communal structures; on the social mixing of Jews with non-Jews, both Christian and Muslim; and on the intense and regularized encounters between Jews of disparate backgrounds and traditions who were obliged to live with each other in new social settings. I will also offer some suggestions on the relationship between mobility and cultural production. How was Jewish culture — both that of intellectuals and the less educated — transformed by the constant movement characteristic of this period? Finally, I will offer some tentative reflections on how the Jewish experience of mobility and migration was different or the same compared with similar groups in the Christian and Muslim Worlds.

Steve Hindle, The Huntington Library
Movers and Stayers: Migration and Social Relations in Town and Countryside, ca. 1500–1700

The early modern period is conventionally understood to be one of the first great ages of European urbanization, in which the demographic growth of towns and cities fundamentally reshaped the social and economic contours of both rural and urban landscapes. Although migration was a key motor of this process, it will be argued that the spatial mobility of early modern populations must be understood in terms not only of the movement from the rural to the urban, but also between rural spaces, in which different patterns of settlement and association made possible new forms of economic activity and of social interaction. By reconceptualizing geographical mobility more broadly in terms of the relationship between "migrant-remitting" and "migrant-receiving" environments, population turnover can be understood not only as a contribution to the increasing significance of the "urban variable," but also as a factor in the penetration of industry into the European countryside.

Saturday, 6 April 2013 – Josephine Waters Bennett Lecture

Sponsor: The Renaissance Society of America

Location: Sheraton Marina Tower, Lobby Level, Grande Ballroom

John M. Najemy, Cornell University
Machiavelli and History

History is the foundation of Machiavelli's thought. He theorized contemporary dilemmas through the lens of history and approached history in order to illuminate the etiology of modern ills. Yet history itself was an unsettled concept for him. Inheriting, but never fully sharing, Renaissance ideas about the superiority and emulation of antiquity, Machiavelli worried about the fragmentary nature of historical knowledge and the elusiveness of historical truth. Moreover, his writings contain many and often conflicting theories of history, among them cyclical recurrence, the constancy of human passions, the influences of the heavens, the dominance of fortune, laws of nature, and the succession of empires. In asking why Machiavelli entertained such a variety of diverse interpretations of history, I suggest that they function in his texts as traces of seductive and consoling fictions that he (and others) sometimes found appealing when facing Italy's woes and the seeming unintelligibility and irrationality of history.


  • San Diego Bay Walk along Spanish Landing Park to San Salvador Build-Site



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 and Casemate Publishing
Harvard University Press
Jan Johnson, Old Master and Modern Prints, Inc.
Northwestern University Press
The Penn State University Press
Scholar's Choice
Truman State University Press
University of Chicago Press
University of Toronto Press
Wode Psalter Project at the University of Edinburgh

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