Locating the Ancient World in Early Modern Subversive Thought
Newcastle University NE1 7RU
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Dichotomies have long been used to define the intellectual developments of early modern Europe - reason and faith; authority and subversion; science and humanism; radicalism and tradition; heterodoxy and orthodoxy — with classical thought usually located on the side of tradition, a behemoth of learning which inhibited man’s reason and his ability to learn through observation. Such unilinear accounts of the progression to modernity have been subjected to increasingly numerous challenges in the last two decades, as scholars have sought to demonstrate that the ideas which drove Europe towards the Enlightenment were far more complex and multi-layered than suggested by the traditional narratives.
The aim of this conference is to expand on this revived appreciation of the classical influence in early modernity by looking specifically at the role played by the ancient world in that sphere from which it has most usually been excluded: subversive literature. The idea that the texts, philosophies, and exempla of the ancient world might have served as significant tools for those who sought to undermine and challenge political, religious and cultural authority stands in direct opposition to the traditional role assigned to the classics in this period. Emphasising an interdisciplinary approach, this conference will draw scholars together to build a coherent picture of how the classical tradition functioned as a tool for subversion, illuminating a previously neglected aspect of the ancient world in the early modern thought.
The keynote speakers will be Peter Harrison (University of Queensland) and Marianne Pade (Danish Academy at Rome).
We are inviting abstracts for papers of thirty minutes on topics including, but not limited to:
Ancient philosophical involvement in epistemological challenges to traditional understandings of knowledge and belief
Ancient theories of natural philosophy in the debates concerning God and the universe in both religion and science
The contribution of ancient texts to the arguments for natural religion, and against magic, miracles, and the supernatural
Classical rhetoric and literary forms as models for argumentation in subversive treatises, polemics, pamphlets, poetry, and other literary genres
Ancient religion in the construction of arguments in favour of toleration, and the establishment of a civil religion
The function of ancient examples in radical political ideologies, including republicanism, democracy, and theories of resistance and revolution
Classical scholarship as a tool for subversion, and print culture as a sphere facilitating this function of the classics
If you would like to offer a paper for the conference, please submit an abstract of 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9th February 2018.
March 30, 2018, 9:00am BST
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