RSA 2024 Chicago: The Stoic Renaissance

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Renaissance Society of America
contact email: 

From the 1200s to 1600s, Stoicism was the antique philosophy that spread most rapidly in Europe. Reborn of secular tradition in cities where culture and politics were linked, classical literature, particularly that of Seneca, served as socio-political model. According to Ronald Witt, Padua’s literary legacy for example was an “eloquence without a conscience,” relying more upon Senecan Stoicism than Christian canon. The tragedies of Seneca would impact Renaissance drama, from Mussato’s Ecernis to both France and England. Oft-copied works of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Plutarch, and Diogenes Laertius, among others, drove Stoicismas the principal of moral thought — from Machiavelli to Erasmus to Montaigne and Muret to Lipsius. In The Prince, Machiavelli refutes Seneca’s On Mercy, the very work upon which Calvin launched his publishing career, and which also underlies Erasmus’s The Education of a Christian Prince. Montaigne borrows Seneca’s style for works on passions, death, and the fleeting nature of the world; Justus Lipsius infuses Stoic views into his popular On Constancy, following it with the Politica, a key manual for absolutist rule. In addition, the Countess of Pembroke made Stoicism central to women’s virtue. Recently, Melinda Latour has explored its popularity through song intended to calm warring peoples.

Our aim is for two panels for papers and dialogue in diverse disciplines — humanism, art, philosophy, government, war, theatre — to address the compelling advent of early modern Stoicism.

Proposals should include the following:

  • Paper title (15 words maximum)
  • Abstract (200 words maximum)
  • Brief CV (2 pages maximum)
  • PhD or other terminal degree completion date (past 
    or expected)
  • Full name, current affiliation, and e-mail address

Please send proposals to both Hassan Melehy (hmelehy@unc.edu) and Peter Weller (oplontis@gmail.com) by July 15, 2023.