NeMLA 2021 Session: Adapting Antiquity: The Uses of the Classics in the Renaissance

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Claire Sommers/Washington University in St. Louis
contact email: 


In The Scholemaster, Renaissance educator Roger Ascham states that in “the Greek and Latin tongues, the two only learned tongues…we find always wisdom and eloquence, good matter, and good utterance.” Although discussing ancient languages, Ascham’s statement may be broadened to illustrate the influence of Classical art, literature, and mythology on Renaissance thought. Meaning “rebirth,” the term Renaissance refers to a renewed engagement with Greek and Roman culture during the Early Modern period. However, while Classical texts exerted a vital influence during this period, they had also been written a millennium earlier, and thus could not fully reflect the cultural, political, and religious realities of the Renaissance. Recognizing the limitations of the Classics, Renaissance writers would often revise these ancient sources in order to more adequately examine and represent their Early Modern context. This session will explore the use and adaptation of the Classics in Early Modern literature. Possible approaches include but are not limited to:

· Allusions to Classical literature and mythology in Renaissance literature

· Depictions of Classical history in Early Modern texts

· Translations of Classical works into Renaissance languages

· The Classics in Renaissance education

· Parodies and satires of Classical works in the Early Modern period

· The use of Classical characters in the Renaissance

· The influence of Classical philosophy and theory on Early Modern thought

· The evolution of Classical science and medicine in the Renaissance

· Classical genres and their evolution in the Renaissance

· The revision of the Classics in the Renaissance

Please submit a 300 word abstract and 100 word bio by September 30, 2020. You will need to create an user account through the NeMLA website in order to submit an abstract. Contact Claire Sommers ( with any questions. NeMLA will take place March 11-14, 2021.