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Contexts of Early Modern Literary Criticism in Italy and Beyond: A History of the Book Symposium

Report by Dr Bryan Brazeau

The Newberry Library’s Center for the Study of the Renaissance hosted the conference ‘Contexts of Literary Criticism in Early Modern Italy and Beyond’ as part of their History of the Book Symposia series on March 9 and 10, 2017. The conference was organised by Bryan Brazeau (Warwick), Lia Markey and Andrew Epps (both with the Newberry Library). The event was a tribute to Bernard Weinberg, the late scholar who published a seminal two-volume work entitled A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance (1961). The panels focused on new directions in the study of early modern Italian poetics, examining new critical lenses that might be used when studying these texts. Talks employed perspectives from book history, the study of intellectual communities, the history of emotions, and transnational cultural studies, among other disciplines, in order to re-vitalise this rich and important field of study. For more information on the symposium, see https://www.newberry.org/03092017-contexts-early-modern-literary-criticism-italy-and-beyond

The keynote lecture was delivered by Jane Tylus (NYU). Symposium participants included Eugenio Refini (Johns Hopkins), Déborah Blocker (University of California, Berkeley), Ayesha Ramachandran (Yale), Bryan Brazeau (Warwick), Sarah Van Der Laan (Indiana), Simon Gilson (Warwick), and Armando Maggi (University of Chicago). CSR Postgraduate students Rebecca Carnevali and Gloria Moorman also attended the conference, sharing pictures and tweets on social media with the hashtag #NLHOB17.

The conference was followed by a day-long postgraduate workshop at the Newberry on March 11, also organised by Bryan Brazeau, on ‘Book History and Early Modern Literary Criticism in Italy’. The workshop introduced participants to the practices and contexts of early modern printing, the central themes related to the reception of classical literary criticism (Aristotle and Horace), and the key debates that occurred in early modern Italy. The workshop included a session with rare books from the Newberry’s collections and concluded with a session on professionalization, discussing digital tools for archival research and strategies of targeted publication for postgraduate students. The workshop was attended by 11 postgraduate students from three different countries (Canada, the UK, and the US), including the aforementioned students from the CSR (Carnevali and Moorman, who are featured in the attached picture). For more information on the workshop, see https://www.newberry.org/03112017-book-history-and-early-modern-literary-criticism-italy

Papers emerging from the symposium will be collected in an edited volume to be submitted for publication in spring 2018. The collected essays will also include contributions from several other scholars working in the field of early modern poetics. The volume will also feature a useful bibliography of scholarship on early modern Italian poetics since the publication of Weinberg’s 1961 volume.

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