Self-Commentary in Early Modern European Literature (Conference, 26th-27th February 2016)


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Registration is now open for this two-day conference examining the ways in which Early Modern writers commented on and explained their own works. Plenary lectures will include Martin McLaughlin (Oxford) on Leon Battista Alberti, John O’Brien (Durham) on Montaigne, and Federica Pich (Leeds) on Italian Renaissance poetry. The conference runs from 26th to 27th February 2016, in Palace Green Library, Durham University. Registration closes 14th February.

Writers the world over have often accompanied their texts with a variety of annotations, marginal glosses, rubrications, and explicatory or narrative prose in an effort to direct and control the reception of their own works. Such self-exegetical devices do not merely serve as an external apparatus but effectively interact with the primary text by introducing a distinctive meta-literary dimension which, in turn, reveals complex dynamics affecting the very notions of authorship and readership. In the Renaissance, self-commentaries enjoyed unprecedented diffusion and found expression in a multiplicity of forms, which appear to be closely linked to momentous processes such as the legitimation of vernacular languages across Europe, the construction of a literary canon, the making of the modern author as we know it, and the self-representation of modern individual identities.

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University will host an international conference on the topic of self-commentary and self-exegesis in early modern European literature, 26-27 February 2016 at Palace Green Library.

Registration is free. To reserve a place, please email: selfcommentary@gmail.com

Plenary lectures will include Martin McLaughlin (Oxford) on Leon Battista Alberti, John O’Brien (Durham) on Montaigne, and Federica Pich (Leeds) on Italian Renaissance poetry. Eight scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will explore various literary traditions, from Neo-Latin Humanism to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English, French, and Polish literature: Harriet Archer (Newcastle), Gilles Bertheau (François Rabelais – Tours), Carlo Caruso (Durham), Jeroen De Keyser (Leuven), Russel Ganim (Iowa), Joseph Harris (Royal Holloway – London), Ian Johnson (St Andrews), and Magdalena Ożarska (Jan Kochanowski – Kielce).

For further information, please contact the event organiser: francesco.venturi@durham.ac.uk.

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