Near-Death Experience in the Renaissance (RSA 2014, New York 27-29 March)

full name / name of organization: 
Giulio Pertile and Emily Vasiliauskas, Princeton University
contact email: 

Hamlet called death the "undiscovered country from whose bourn | No traveller returns." Yet from the ghost of King Hamlet himself, to the resurrection of Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Donne's claim to be "every dead thing," many early modern writers tested that assumption. In this panel, we will be considering the various ways in which early modern writers approached, mimicked, or transcended death—and yet returned, precisely as travelers, to report on their experience. We will be thinking about the ways in which proximity to death enables thinking about consciousness, about the relationship between body and soul, the shape of a literary career, generational conflict and obligation, and the classical tradition. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on near-death experience. Papers might consider:

* Cheating death, survival
* Serious illness, advanced old age
* Execution and reprieve
* Visionary experience
* Renaissance autobiography
* Swoons and trances
* Inheritance, legacy
* Mortality and sexuality
* Late style, outmodedness

Please send 300-word abstracts to Giulio Pertile ( and Emily Vasiliauskas ( by May 15, 2013. Selected panelists will be notified by the end of May.