Locating the Ancient World in Early Modern Subversive Thought

12th – 14th April 2018
The Boiler House, Newcastle University

The aim of this conference is to expand on this revived appreciation of the classical influence in early modernity by looking specifically at the role played by the ancient world in that sphere from which it has most usually been excluded: subversive literature. The idea that the texts, philosophies, and exempla of the ancient world might have served as significant tools for those who sought to undermine and challenge political, religious and cultural authority stands in direct opposition to the traditional role assigned to the classics in this period. Emphasising an interdisciplinary approach, this conference will draw scholars together to build a coherent picture of how the classical tradition functioned as a tool for subversion, illuminating a previously neglected aspect of the ancient world in the early modern thought.

Featuring keynote speakers Peter Harrison (University of Queensland) and Marianne Pade (Danish Academy at Rome).

There is no delegate fee for this conference, but if you plan to attend please email Katherine East to register for the event by Monday 9th April.


Thursday 12th April

13.30-14.00 Coffee and Registration

14.00-14.30 Welcome Address

14.30-16.30 Panel One: Institutions of Religion

Alasdair Raffe (Edinburgh): ‘Numa in Plaid: Scottish Interpretations of Roman Religion, c. 1602-1759’
John Holton (Newcastle): ‘Thomas Hobbes, Diodorus Siculus, and Early Human Society’
Ashley Walsh (Cambridge): ‘Ciceronianism and the Multitude in the Civil Religion of the Third Earl of Shaftesbury’

17.00-18.00 Keynote Address

Marianne Pade (Danish Academy at Rome): ‘Thucydides vs Aristotle: Leonardo Bruni on Popular Government’

18.00-19.00 Drinks Reception

Friday 13th April

9.30-11.30 Panel Two: Rewriting the Natural World

Valentina Zaffino (Pontifical Lateran University): ‘Subverting Aristotelianism through Aristotle: Giordano Bruno’s Interpretation of the Physics’

Karine Durin (Nantes): ‘Dangerous Pliny: Natural Philosophy and the Limits of Christian Orthodoxy in the Renaissance’

Michelle Pfeffer (Oxford): ‘William Coward (1657-1724), the Material Soul, and ‘Undeniable History’: a Physician’s Critical Study of Pagan, Hebrew, and Christian Pasts’

11.30-12.00 Break

12.00-13.30 Panel Three: Pagan Belief

Jonathan Nathan (Cambridge): ‘Orthodox Atheism and the Manuscript Theophrastus Redivivus’

Tim Stuart-Buttle (York): ‘Pagan Philosophy and Early Modern Natural Law Theory: John Maxwell’s Edition of Cumberland’s De Legibus Naturae (1727)’

13.30-14.30 Lunch

14.30-16.30 Panel Four: The Power of Words

Callum Murrell (Durham): ‘The Invention of Subversion: Fiction and Narrative in the Elizabethan Star Chamber’

Julianne Mentzer (St Andrews): ‘“Give me my fee!”: Transgressive Use of Rhetoric in The Dutch Courtesan’

Rowland Smith (Newcastle): ‘The Persecuting Pagan and the Philosophic Protestant: Julian the Apostate in English Reception from Marvell to Gibbon, by way of Hampton Court and Voltaire the Bigot’

17.00-18.00 Keynote Address

Peter Harrison (University of Queensland): ‘The Authority of the Ancients: the Case of Heterodox Religion in Seventeenth Century England’

18.00 Drinks Reception and Conference Dinner

Saturday 14th April

9.30-11.30 Panel Five: Popular Politics

Astrid Khoo (KCL): ‘Subverting Cicero: Roman Republican Polemic in Milton’s Defensio Pro Populo Anglicano’

Dikaia Gavala (Aberdeen): ‘“Rise before the Majesty of the People”: Popular Republicanism in Restoration Drama’

Minchul Kim (St Andrews): ‘War and Patriotism: Roman History and Military Government in the French Revolutionary Debates’

11.30-12.00 Break

12.00-13.30 Panel Five: Epicurean Echoes

Jessica Pirie (Birmingham): ‘Aphra Behn’s The Young King and the Lucretian Revival’

Jared Holley (EUI): ‘Epicureanism and Popular Sovereignty in Rousseau’

13.30 Lunch and Farewells

Dr Katherine A. East
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Newcastle University
Katherine East