Erasmus Birthday Lecture 2016

On 4 November 2016 Kathy Eden will give the 37th Erasmus Birthday Lecture: “Erasmus on Dogs and Baths and Other Odious Comparisons.”

Both praised and censured by his contemporaries for his mastery of comparison, Erasmus puts this discursive strategy at the center of his educational reform, his biblical hermeneutics and his call to philosophia Christi. In this lecture, Kathy Eden explores the roots of Erasmus’ master trope in some of his favourite rhetoricians and philosophers, including Quintilian and Plato, and the key role it plays in his own literary production.

Location: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Trippenhuis Building, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam

Time: 16:15 — 17:15 hrs

All welcome!

See here for registration and more information.

Call for Papers ACLA 2017 Utrecht

Seminar: History, Fiction, and Historical Fiction

Georg Lukács initiated a fruitful line of inquiry into the conditions of nineteenth-century realism with his pioneering study The Historical Novel (1937) and Hayden White has spawned an even more capacious literature about the narratological strategies of historical writing with his Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973). Strangely, though, the connections suggested by these two seminal works between nineteenth-century historiography and literature have yet to be fully explored, and the general questions they raise about the relations between history and literature have been addressed in broad theoretical terms more often than in discussions of concrete examples. This seminar proposes to examine the generic and narratological interplay between literary and historical writing through close readings of particular works.

Beginning with Herodotus and Thucydides in the Western tradition, historians have borrowed large-scale narrative architecture, small episodes, and particular verbal formulations from literary genres high – ode, tragedy, and epic, among others – and low – folk tale, comedy, and novel, among many others. At the same time, literary writers have not only mined historians’ accounts for source material but re-plotted them, lifted anecdotes and exempla, and used them to adjust their notions of literary form in a general evolution towards more complex chronotopes and the more open-ended structures of the novel, if Bakhtin is to be believed. Each paper should address how a particular historical text adapts a generic or narrative strategy from a literary text or corpus, or vice versa.

Topics could include but are not limited to:

– the Greek and Roman historians’ use of epic, lyric, and tragedy, and the use made of them in turn by later literary writers

– the relationship of the Medieval chronicle to the Arthurian romance

– how 16th century writers used the Greek and Roman historians for micro-genres like the anecdote and the exemplum

– questions of verisimilitude relating to history and literature in the Italian Renaissance

– historical drama from Shakespeare to German Romanticism

– Hume, Gibbon, and the eighteenth-century British novel

– the relations between the 19th-century historical novel and the great 19th-century histories

– modernist and post-modernist historical novels, especially attempts to abandon traditional literary form and create radically open-ended structures in line with current theorizing about avoiding the imposition of narrative on history

– emplotment and endings in historical narratives according to White, Ricoeur, Kermode, D. A. Miller, and/or Peter Brooks

– micro-history’s relation to fiction

– thinking about literary form in terms of big history (e.g., Richard McGuire) and non-human agents in contemporary history and literature (e.g., Wendy Doniger)

Abstracts (~250 words) will be accepted through the ACLA website ( from September 1 to September 23, 2016. If you have any questions about the seminar, please contact Chris Chiasson (

Call for Papers

Interdisciplinary conference “On the Eve of the Reformation: The View from Then and Now”, Victoria College in the University of Toronto, 21-22 October 2016.

As we prepare to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 theses in October 1517, it may be useful to pause for a moment and consider two important questions: first, how were the historical and cultural events of the late fifteenth and very early sixteenth century defining the European world that would soon break apart along sectarian lines, and, second, how did writers, thinkers, and artists later in the century look back at that earlier world and culture. The years immediately preceding 1517 were richly marked by events/works that were to have a lasting impact on their times. In 1516, for example, the fifteen-year-old Charles von Habsburg was crowned king of Spain, Thomas More published his Utopia, Erasmus his Novum Testamentum and Ariosto his Orlando furioso, and the Venetians established the Ghetto. The previous year, 1515, the twenty-year-old Francis I was crowned king of France, Thomas Wolsey was named cardinal and then Chancellor of England, Martin Luther began to lecture on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Johannes Reuchlin established the first university chair of Greek in Germany, while across the ocean the Spaniard Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded the city of Havana. How did people later in the sixteenth century and early in the next see these events? How, for example, did Shakespeare see and depict pre-Reformation England in some of his historical plays? How did Montaigne, or Cervantes, or Caravaggio, or Monteverdi see the world before the Reformation? This interdisciplinary conference seeks, therefore, to take the pulse of European history and culture in two different ways: from our perspective as early twenty-first-century scholars and from the perspective of late-sixteenth/early-seventeenth-century writers and artists. In so doing, the conferences seeks to cast its eyes on both the Old World and the New, Europe as well as in its African and Asian extensions, history as well as the arts, society as well as events.


Deadline to submit proposals: Thursday, 31 March 2016.

For further information on the conference, please contact Prof. Elizabeth Cohen (ecohen[at] or Prof. Konrad Eisenbichler (konrad.eisenbichler[at]

Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture 2016: Mark Vessey

Thursday 31 March 2016, Professor Mark Vessey (University of British Columbia) will give the Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture “A More Radical Renaissance: The Novum Instrumentum (1516) in Its Time and Ours.” All welcome.

Time: 19:30-20:30

Location: Annual Meeting Renaissance Society of America, Boston, Hynes, Level Three, Room 302

Erasmus Birthday Lecture 2015: Anita Traninger

Friday 30 October Prof. dr Anita Traninger (Freie Universität Berlin) will give the 36th Erasmus Birthday Lecture: “Erasmus’ personae between rhetoric and dialectics.” All welcome. Drinks afterwards.
Date: Friday 30 October 2015
Time: 16:15
Location: Huygens ING (housed in the Royal Library), The Hague, Tesselschadezaal

Erasmus was famous for his ambiguity. This elusive verbal skill even prompted Martin Luther to call him “an eel.” But how does this ambiguity work precisely? This lecture willl explore how Erasmus used techniques of argumentation available to him from the traditions of both rhetoric and dialectics. In connection with the latter it will reveal how Erasmus, who never held back in showing his contempt for the scholastics, engaged with traditional dialectical modes of arguing. Erasmus certainly was the paragon of the new learning, but his engagement with these older methods mirrors his ambition of contributing to the discussion of theological matters.

About the speaker: Prof. Anita Traninger is a Fellow of the Einstein Foundation at Freie Universität Berlin, where she teaches Romance and Comparative Literature with a focus on rhetoric and the history of knowledge. She is the director of two research projects, one on the genealogy of impartiality as a scholarly ideal and one, on the ‘question’ as an epistemic genre. Her books include a study on the debate about universal methods of gaining and feigning knowledge between 1500 and 1720 (Mühelose Wissenschaft, 2001) and two volumes on knowledge and performativity (Macht Wissen Wahrheit, 2005; Dynamiken des Wissens, 2007, both ed. with K. W. Hempfer). Her most recent book publications are on practices of conflict and genres of debate shared by and jointly shaped by scholasticism and humanism (Disputation, Deklamation, Dialog, 2012), on The Emergence of Impartiality (ed. with K. Murphy, 2014) and on Discourses of Anger in the Early Modern Period, (ed. with Karl A.E. Enenkel, 2015).