CfP: Classical Reformations - Conference at the Warburg Institute, September 2021
Christian humanism has dominated the story of classical reception in Reformation Europe, as the first Erasmian generation of reformers retooled classical texts to Christian ends. Yet the utility of the classical tradition to later generations of reformers has been largely overlooked by modern scholarship. We propose that as the Reformation evolved, the influence of classical learning was as likely to flow in the other direction: that the literature and ideas of the ancient world had a formative influence on Christian politics and theology. Major Reformation figures—from Melanchthon, Sturm, Ascham, and Beza, to many of their Catholic opponents, such as Pole and Bellarmine—were scholars by day, as comfortable with Catullus as Corinthians. Their classical learning actively empowered and shaped the formulation of Christian faith during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This conference explores how the literature and ideas of the classical world calibrated early modern Christianity—its interpretation, ordinances, moral instruction, politics, theology, cultural expression, and polarizing impulses of confessionalisation. How did classical learning fill the gaps in the Lutheran rejection of Catholic doctrine? How did classical poetry and drama shape the Roman Church’s popular outreach after the Council of Trent? How did classical history and rhetoric inflect the turbulent politics of the Reformation? Looking beyond the Christian absorption of pagan material and Erasmian humanism redux, this conference focuses instead on a classical Christianity, even a Greco-Roman monotheism, in the generations after Erasmus. Where recent scholarship has replaced confessionalism at the heart of early modern philology, we aim to replace classicism at the heart of theology and religious politics. The classical tradition was too ubiquitous and authoritative a presence in early modern intellectual life to have left theology untouched.
We welcome any proposals that engage with these themes. Proposals may relate to any aspects of this phenomenon across Europe, and case-studies may feature the vernacular or the languages of Latin, Greek, or Hebrew. We warmly welcome papers on scholarly as well as popular literature, Protestant as well as Catholic communities, and those that engage with the religious politics of the Reformation more generally. Abstracts of no more than 250 words, and any queries, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 16 April 2021.We hope to publish a volume of essays following the conference.
Convenors: Dr Micha Lazarus (The Warburg Institute) and Dr Lucy Nicholas (The Warburg Institute)