Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ancient Rome and Early Modern England: Literature, History, and Politics

Interdisciplinary conference, Jesus College Oxford, 21-22 May 2011
Speakers include David Norbrook and Blair Worden

Ancient Rome was a source of endless fascination to the early moderns.
Historians, politicians, divines, and imaginative writers looked to the Roman example for models and inspiration. The aim of the conference is to reassess the place of ancient Rome in the literary and political culture of late Tudor and early Stuart England. In what ways did the translation and reception of the Roman classics stimulate the native literary tradition or influence its political outlook? What was the impact of the Roman precedent on attitudes towards constitutional change, the rights and wrongs of empire, and the law? How did it influence ecclesiastical policy and, more generally, the views of the relationship between church and state? In what ways did Roman historiography, political writings, and rhetoric shape the language and substance of public argument? What was the trajectory of circulation in manuscript and print of the Roman classics? What were the uses and topical appeal of the Roman models in the wider public world and in education? How did the Roman legacy compare with that of ancient Greece?
Our aim is to foster dialogue among literary scholars, classicists, political and intellectual historians, historians of religion, specialists in the history of the book, and historians of historiography. Bringing together scholars representing diverse disciplines and approaches, the conference will encourage reconsideration of much received wisdom about the place of ancient Rome in early modern England's literature and political imagination. It will, we hope, raise new questions about, inter alia, the shaping influence of the Roman example upon formal properties and topical undercurrents of imaginative literature, sermons, and polemical writings; upon conceptions of public institutions and the individual's relationship to them; upon views of foreign policy and international relations as also military theory and practice; upon emergent confessional divisions and incipient notions of religious toleration; and, finally, upon perceptions of social relations in urban, above all metropolitan contexts. No less important will be to assess the utility and pervasiveness of romanitas before and after the union with Scotland, and compare the situation in England with major European states, in particular, France, Spain, Italian principalities, and the Netherlands.
We invite proposals for 30-minute papers. Please e-mail abstracts of no more than 500 words to Felicity Heal (felicity.heal@jesus.ox.ac.uk) or Paulina Kewes (paulina.kewes@jesus.ox.ac.uk) by 30 January 2011.
The Oxford gathering is a follow-up to the conference on 'Ancient Rome and Early Modern England: History, Politics, and Political Thought' to be held at the Huntington Library, 21-22 January 2011. For further information, please contact Carolyn Powell (cpowell@huntington.org).