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Reading the Virtues: Literary Culture and the Good Life in Europe, 1450-1750

[Preliminary event: Director’s Seminar, 25 May 2021, 5:30 – 7.00 pm: Ullrich Langer (University of Wisconsin-Madison): 'Praise, Virtue, and Fiction of the Court'. BOOKED SEPARATELY]

The close link between ethics and “literature”, in the wide sense of litterae, is one of the defining features of early modern culture. The emphasis on the good life and on self-cultivation, typical of early modern ethics, required differentiated sets of genres and readerships, stimulating their readers intellectually, while also involving them emotionally in the process of moral refinement. This workshop will investigate how virtue, language, and learning belonged together. How did literary culture provide guidance in institutional contexts (e.g. language academies and literary societies), through material features (e.g. books as artefacts with their own mediality), literary aspects (e.g. genre and narrative), and philosophical discussions concerning ethical issues in literature and literary topoi in ethics? Furthermore, this workshop will explore the thoroughly European dimension of early modern literary and moral culture: How did key notions, genres, and forms of life circulate in Europe? How were they communicated, and by whom? What role did translations, intermediary figures, and semantic differences in key words play in shaping the development and reception of these debates?  


PROGRAMME

NB: FULL PAPERS WILL BE CIRCULATED IN ADVANCE OF THE EVENT

14:00 – WELCOME (Sara Miglietti & Matthias Roick)

14:10 – SESSION 1. Literature and Ethics in the Renaissance: Foundational Remarks


  • Matthias Roick (University of Göttingen): 'Two Paths to Ethics: Philosophy and Literature in the Ethica section in Wolfenbüttel'. With a response by Jill Kraye (Warburg Institute). 
  • Claudia Rossignoli (University of St Andrews): '"Non merita il nome di scrittore, non che di poeta, chi non insegna i buoni costumi": Reading the Virtues in Renaissance Poetic Theory'. With a response by David Lines (University of Warwick).  
  • Cecilia Muratori (Università Ca' Foscari, Venice): 'A "Mirror for Promoting Good Behaviour": Physiognomics as Ethical Practice'. With a response by Valentina Lepri (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw).

16:10 – Break 

16:30 – SESSION 2. From page to stage: ethical themes in Renaissance novellas and plays
   
  • Enrica Zanin (Université de Strasbourg): 'Reading the Virtues in the Stories of Vices: Ethics and Poetics in Early Modern Novellas'. With a response by Micha Lazarus (Trinity College, Cambridge / Warburg Institute).
  • Daniela D’Eugenio (University of Arkansas): '"Ingegno spesso, e alta virtude." Reading the Virtues in Le cento novelle’s Day VI'. With a response by Simon Gilson (Magdalen College, Oxford).
  • Eugenio Refini (New York University): 'Staging the Virtues: Allegory, Drama, Spiritual Practice'. With a response by Ullrich Langer (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

18:30: Concluding remarks and future prospects 

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PROGRAMME

FREE VIA ZOOM WITH ADVANCE BOOKING

image: Ethica section at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, by Dr Erik Kwakkel (University of British Columbia)