Conferences

We will host the first of our two conferences, ‘War and the University in the Sixteenth Century’, at Queen’s University Belfast, 28-30 June 2018.

How did Europe’s most prestigious institutions of learning experience warfare during the turmoil of the Sixteenth Century? Warfare could be an indirect or direct threat to their survival as well as an opportunity from which to profit; it was certainly a major topic of reflection, discussion, and argument within these institutions.

Since the 1970s, historians have discarded earlier accounts of post-medieval university decadence, and reframed universities as central agents of cultural transmission in early modern societies. But historians of the university as institution and historians of scholasticism, scholastic political thought, and scholastic just war theory communicate with each other less frequently than might be hoped. Scholarship on the relationships between institutions, intellectual production, and imperial warfare is perhaps best integrated for the sixteenth-century Spanish and Portuguese universities, but the University of Paris experienced the collapse of its city and kingdom into civil war, the University of Wittenberg closed during the Schmalkaldic War, the Italian universities endured the Habsburg-Valois conflict, and the University of Leiden was founded in the midst of the Dutch Revolt. The latest German scholarship has naturally figured the Seventeenth Century as the period in which the universities of the Holy Roman Empire were especially marked by war, but during the Sixteenth Century all of Europe’s universities experienced the consequences of the fragmentation of Christendom, imperial expansion, and the extension of humanism within their institutions. Violent changes in political circumstances were thus joined to considerable intellectual changes during a period which saw the foundation of over seventy new universities across the continent: these phenomena demand attention.

This conference, funded by the European Research Council as part of ‘War and the Supernatural in Early Modern Europe’, provides an opportunity to promote dialogue between scholars across national contexts, to establish the state of the field, and to mark out avenues for future progress. Our keynote speakers will include Professor Matthias Asche (Potsdam), Dr Sarah Mortimer (Oxford), Dr Giuseppe Marcocci (Oxford), and Dr Daniel Schwartz (Jerusalem).

We invite 20-minute papers on the relationship between the institutional and intellectual life of the university and warfare in sixteenth-century Europe and its sphere of influence. Topics for discussion might include, but are not restricted to:

  • Ways in which confessional difference (Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed) inflected the experience of warfare across Europe’s universities.
  • Whether different varieties of university and institutions of advanced learning (those that favoured the modus Parisiensis or modus Bononiensis, the various new Jesuit and Reformed institutions) experienced warfare in different ways.
  • The relationship between humanism and warfare in the universities.
  • The adaptation of scholastic discourses on warfare to the new circumstances of the sixteenth century.
  • The impact of religious refugees on the universities’ experience of warfare.
  • The interaction of the potentially more technical university disciplines, such as medicine, with warfare.

Applications from advanced graduate students, early and advanced career scholars are welcome. Please send a one-page CV, a title, and an abstract of no more than 400 words to Dr Todd Rester (t.rester@qub.ac.uk) by 31 January 2018. Queries should also be directed to Dr Rester.