Thursday, April 05, 2007

Renaissance Virtues

We welcome papers touching on all aspects of virtue in the Renaissance for a panel at the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) 2008 meeting in Chicago (April 3-5). Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged, and papers touching on some aspect of literature and/or England are especially welcome. Possible questions to examine include:

* What is virtue in the Renaissance?
* In what respects is virtue rooted in religious or theological belief?
* What is the relationship between virtue and Catholicism?
* What is the relationship between virtue and Protestantism?
* In what forms is virtue depicted among heathens, pagans, Moors, Jews, barbarians, and other non-Christian groups inside and outside Europe?
* How is virtue communicated, educated, transmitted, and enforced?
* What is the relationship between virtue and the classics?
* How did the Renaissance think of virtue in terms of ethical or moral beliefs or practices?
* How do Renaissance conceptions of virtue bear on a distinction between knowledge and practice?
* What are the differences between virtues and, to use perhaps a more modern term, values?
* What are the connections between virtue and politics?
* How does virtue fit into structures of class and social hierarchy?
* What is the relationship between virtue and alchemy, astrology, science, magic, and/or knowledge?
* What distinctions are there, if any, during the Renaissance between "being virtuous" and "having virtues"?
* In what respects are virtues found in material objects? What does it mean for an object to have "power" or "virtue"?
* What is the relationship between material virtues and moral, ethical, or religious virtues?
* To what extent is virtue gendered in the Renaissance?
* What is the relationship between virtue and sexuality or chastity?
* In what respects does virtue bear on economic and marketplace practices?
* What connections exist between virtue and skill? What skills might be considered virtues in the Renaissance?
* What bearing does martial prowess have on virtue?
* What is the relationship between virtue and the divine or supernatural?
* In what ways is Virtue personified in the Renaissance?
* What is the relationship between virtue and art? How is it possible to imbue an image or language with virtue, or to convey virtue through images or words?
* What is the relationship between poetic form and the production or subversion of virtues? Are some forms more virtuous/vicious than others? What is the relationship between aesthetics and virtue?
* How do people in the Renaissance balance virtues when they seem to come into conflict with each other? Can we speak of a hierarchy of virtues? If so, how does such a hierarchy manifest itself in literature? If not, how do literary authors figure the conflicts that arise among competing virtues?
* How is virtue represented in specific literary texts or pieces of art?

Please submit a brief c.v. and abstracts of 250 words or less to Aaron Spooner ( and Dan Gibbons ( by no later than April 20, 2007. Selected panelists must become members of RSA
before the conference schedule is finalized.


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