The Song of Songs in European Poetry (13th-17th Centuries): Translations, Appropriations, Rewritings

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
University of Padova

The Song of Songs in European Poetry (13th-17th Centuries)

Translations, Appropriations, Rewritings


University of Padova, 29-30 June 2020


Traditionally attributed to King Solomon and defined by Rabbi Akiva as the “Holy of Holies” among the sacred scriptures (Mishnah Yadayim 3:5), the Song of Songs is one of the most fascinating and controversial Biblical books. Fervently read and carefully explained, celebrated as a key to the supreme mystery of the union between God and men, the Song of Songs, the primary source for the Christian pervasive metaphor of the sacred marriage and eros, was a text crucial not only to the Middle Ages, but also to the Renaissance period. This ambivalent book, which combined a sensual celebration of love with a well-established tradition of allegorical interpretation, held a particular appeal for poets. While its scriptural nature and exegetical reading allowed the text to function as a source of symbolically and allegorically charged images, the Song of Solomon stood up as one of the few Christian alternatives to classical love poetry, and was therefore destined to play a significant role in the shaping of European poetry from its very beginning.

Part of an ongoing project conducted by Camilla Caporicci at the University of Padova, funded through the MSCA (Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions) Seal of Excellence@UNIPD Initiative, this conference aims at exploring the complex and multifaceted processes through which the Song of Songs entered, influenced and interacted with late medieval and Renaissance European poetry (13th-17th centuries).

We welcome 20-minute paper proposals on (but not limited to) the following topics:

-   verse translations and paraphrases of the Song of Songs

-   the employment of the Song of Songs in the tradition of mystic writings

-   the use of the Song of Songs in religious poetry

-   the role of the Song of Songs in the development of European lyric poetry, particularly the sonnet tradition, with special attention to the ambivalent relationship the text establishes with courtly and Petrarchan codes

-  the influence exercised by the Song of Songs on pastoral poetry

-  the persistence and evolution of specific Song-related topoi (e.g. the black but beautiful beloved; the woman as flower, fountain and garden enclosed; the syntactic topos of the descending description…)

-  the gender-related dynamics characterizing the poetic appropriation of the Song of Songs by female poets, or in homo-erotic      texts

-  the philosophical and religious implications of the poetic use of the Song of Songs, examined in relation to coeval paradigms of thought

-  the politico-religious poetic employment of the text, with particular reference to the Catholic-Protestant debate

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words and biographies of no more than 150 words to and by 31 January 2020.