The workshop “Antiquity and Its Uses: Reception and Renewal” that took place at Johns Hopkins University on 4-5 April 2016 was the first in a series of events organised within the framework of a two-year partnership between the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance (CSR) of the University of Warwick and the Charles S. Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe of Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The partnership, co-funded by Warwick’s International Partnership Fund and by JHU’s Singleton Center, aims to rethink the categories and methods of traditional “reception studies”, in order to shed light on the many ways in which “Antiquity” has been construed, interpreted, and engaged with throughout the centuries.
About fifteen people from both institutions took part in this first event, including staff and advanced PhD students from various departments (Classics, Italian, French, English, History, Book History, Art History). [See the full programme here] On Day 1, a number of papers covering a broad chronological spectrum (from Homer to the digital age) tackled the issue of reception through a series of case studies that ranged thematically from the role of scholarly practices in shaping reception (e.g. editorial and commentarial activity, note-taking, translation, censorship, but also forgery) to the various uses to which “Antiquity”—however defined—was put in different contexts (e.g. as a tool for veiled political polemics in Milton’s England; as a pedagogical springboard in the Jesuit colleges of South America, etc.). On Day 2, the presentation of side projects currently underway at JHU (“The Archaeology of Reading”, led by Dr Earle Havens, co-PI Anthony Grafton at Princeton; “Media Literacy”, led by Professor Wilda Anderson) paved the way to a lively debate about the role that the digital media could and should play in reception studies, while Anderson’s proposed concept of “thick literacy” initiated a discussion about “textual literacy” vs. “visual literacy”, and how the latter could be more successfully integrated in reception studies in the future.
Overall, the workshop offered a first platform for project members to explore each others’ research interests and potential areas of interconnection, and to identify more specific research topics for the follow-up events of 2017. These will include a roundtable at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Conference in Chicago (30 March-1 April 2017), co-sponsored by the Singleton Center and by the CSR; and a workshop at Warwick in early Summer 2017 (dates TBD).
Chris Geekie presenting on the 16th-century reception of Pseudo-Demetrius, Johns Hopkins University
Earle Havens and Walter Stephens exploring the "Bibliotheca Fictiva" collection at JHU's Peabody Library