One of the great undertakings of humanism in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries was the recovery and transmission of the hitherto “lost” texts of classical
antiquity – a device which would later become a standard means of allowing fake or forged material to enter the public domain. At the same time, this was an age in which there was immense interest in the exploration of the material culture of the classical past – the excavation, recording, collection, and (even) exchange of the objects, monuments, and sculptures of antiquity were activities which (it has been claimed) foreshadowed antiquarian research in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Recent work on the archaeological frauds of Annius of Viterbo in the late fifteenth century, or the “discovery” of forged Etruscan materials in the seventeenth century, as well as the well-known case (recounted by Vasari) of Michelangelo’s
“antiquation” of statues in order to increase their market value, point to a darker side of Renaissance delight in fabrication and discovery.
In literary studies, by the same token, the rise of a modern concept of authorship (and with it, perhaps, the redefinition of terms such as authority) was contemporaneous with these developments. When Sir Philip Sidney, spoke of poetry as “an art of imitation… that is to say, a representing,
counterfeiting, or figuring forth” his terms might remind us of Hamlet’s flourishing of two pictures before his mother: the one ‘authentic’, the other a “counterfeit presentment” (Hamlet IV. iii), a poor copy of the ‘original’. Authority, authenticity, and the act of forgery are clearly bound up with one another, but how exactly?
More generally, pretence, contrivance, or the subtle arts of equivocation might all be associated with the act of forging documents, texts, objects, or images. These terms, too, are ones that cohere around the charges of Reformers: that the use of remains, or images, or even rituals had no “warrant” in scripture and were to be condemned as, insome measure, inauthentic.
We invite papers on this broad topic. Of particular, but by no means exclusive interest, would be papers in the following areas:
• Duplicitous or inauthentic behaviour (or texts or performance).
• Forgery of texts, documents, images, or things.
• Falsity, Fabrication and manufacture.
• Artificiality and contrivance.
• Deceit and credulity.
• Authorship and authority.
• Anonymity and Pseudonymity.
We particularly welcome contributions from those working in interdisciplinary fields in the period, and we would wish to extend a very warm invitation to musicologists, art historians, archaeologists, librarians, and museum curators, as well as those working in literary or historical fields. The colloquium is scheduled to take place at the University of Stirling on Saturday 13 May 2006. Proposals for papers may be sent (by e-mail or hard copy) to Professor Jonathan Sawday, Department of English Studies, University of Strathclyde, Livingston Tower, 26 Richmond Street,Glasgow
G1 1XH or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 January 2006.
SINRS is a joint research and postgraduate initiative of the Universities of Stirling and Strathclyde, with collaboration from the University of Glasgow, offering taught masters and PhD programmes in the general area of Renaissance Studies.
Professor Jonathan Sawday,
Department of English Studies,
University of Strathclyde,
Glasgow G1 1XH
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