Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Virgil and Renaissance Culture


Virgil and Renaissance Culture / Virgilio e la cultura del Rinascimento

A two-day international conference to be held at the Accademia Nazionale
Virgiliana di Scienze Lettere e Arti, Mantua, Italy, 15-16 October 2012

Organisers: Luke Houghton (University of Glasgow), Marco Sgarbi
(University of Verona)

Confirmed keynote speakers: Craig Kallendorf (Texas A&M University) and
Peter Mack (The Warburg Institute)

Et quis, io, iuvenes, tanti miracula lustrans eloquii, non se immensos
terraeque marisque prospectare putet tractus?

(Angelo Poliziano, Manto 351-3)

For scholars and intellectuals of the Renaissance, the poetry of Virgil
was not merely a pervasive presence in their world; it was in many
respects an embodiment of that world. In addition to the traditional
status enjoyed by the Aeneid as a 'mirror for princes', a guide to
virtuous and reprehensible conduct, and a repository of spiritual and
allegorical wisdom, poets and rhetoricians, artists and composers,
philosophers and theologians, political theorists and educators all sought
and found in Virgil's works models of good practice and expert instruction
in their respective fields. The poet's sway over Renaissance thought and
imagination was by no means confined to the library: throughout the
courts, the palaces and the public buildings of Europe, the rich
mythological apparatus of the Aeneid was harnessed to convey imperial and
dynastic claims, to assert proud traditions of civic liberty, and to
associate rulers and their subjects with particular social, moral and
ethical values, as well as to advertise the learning, taste and culture of
individual patrons.

In literate society, Virgil was everywhere; but the extent of his
influence reached far beyond the wide circle of his readers, through the
appearance of scenes and motifs from his poems - and sometimes also the
figure of the poet himself - in frescoes, sculpture and woodcuts, and even
on objects for domestic use and display. Contact with Virgil and his texts
took many forms and was shaped by a variety of external factors, in
addition to being filtered through countless previous literary and
artistic adaptations, a long tradition of critical and pedagogical
engagements, and strident expressions of both devotion and censure from
different quarters during the centuries between the poet's own day and the
age of the humanists. Among these successive interventions, a place of
particular honour is occupied by Dante, whose choice of 'the sea of all
knowledge' as his guide and master through the caverns of the Inferno and
along the slopes of Purgatory was to have a lasting impact on perceptions
of Virgil, not only as a literary character and aesthetic model but also
as a poet and historical figure.

Proposals are invited for papers in English or Italian, of no more than 30
minutes' duration, on any aspect of the place of Virgil in Renaissance
culture, in any medium. Abstracts should not be longer than 500 words, and
should include the author's name, institutional affiliation (if
applicable), and current e-mail address.

Proposals should be sent to one of the conference organisers, Marco Sgarbi
(marco.sgarbi@univr.it) or Luke Houghton (luke.houghton@glasgow.ac.uk),
before 31 December 2011. It is hoped that papers from this event will in
due course form a substantial publication.


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