Baroque Latinity

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Greek and Latin

Abstract

Baroque (c. 1580-c. 1720) is important as the earliest aesthetic - and cultural - movement to have global impact, spread as it was through dynastic ambition, mercantilism, and missionary fervour. Latin, as a supranational language, played a major role in propagating this style. In literature, Baroque was characterized by rhetorical devices, especially through exaggerated forms such as paradoxes, anachronisms, antitheses, and oxymora that roused the emotions and engaged the senses. Interfacing with vernacular literature, the Neo-Latin literature of the 17th century contributed not only to the development of drama, but to the rise of the novel, as well as to the evolution of more traditional forms such as the epic and the epigram. Beyond belles lettres, Latin supplied lyrics to musical compositions of the time and was employed in the visual arts. In politics, Latin served as the language of treatises and contracts; in religion, it furthered the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. It became the language of international scientific communication, used to announce and explain new discoveries. The ability to write in the common European language of scholarship was an indicator of educational achievement in an age when rhetorical and grammatical competence was demanded.

Because 'Baroque' post-dates the art to which it was applied, coming into familiar use only since the nineteenth century, and because 17th-century culture was seen traditionally as a decline after the flourishing of Renaissance Humanism, this term fell out of fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. However, there has been a renewal of interest in Baroque during the past decade, due to scholarly initiatives that challenge traditional - especially European-centred - historical narratives. The term has become a focus of discussion among art historians, but literary scholars are only beginning to enter the debate. It is urgent now to move the research agenda forward - to expand on the collection of articles edited by Jan Bloemendal and Nigel Smith, Politics and Aesthetics in European Baroque and Classicist Tragedy (2016) - and to uncover aspects of a period in literature that have been forgotten, but also while looking beyond periodization in an attempt to comprehend how literary practice traverses geographic and linguistic borders. A re-examination is required from a broad range of international experts to reinvigorate and challenge past thoughts around the Baroque in literature. Our network will bring together a group of UK and Continental scholars, as well as librarians, to uncover aspects of Baroque that have been lost and to offer new understandings of literary practice and intellectual movements, rather than simply to provide further information for period-based cultural history. Our project will generate fruitful and novel interaction not only by amalgamating ongoing research, but by searching out forgotten texts in order to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of Baroque writing.

Our first objective, through this timely re-examination, is to spin off major, long-term projects, to be determined through confronting major questions relating to Latin writing and the artistic concept of the Baroque, and the use of Latin in the expression of the new ideas of the Baroque era - in politics, commerce, science, and art. By amalgamating the individual research of network participants in our workshops, we will be able to draw up a perceptive and inclusive outline of the issues underlying Baroque Latinity, and thus be able to identify the most promising pathways for long-term projects.

Our second objective, through our public engagement activities, is to raise the profile of 17th-century Latin and to signal its importance in the formation of modern society. Latin is often thought of as an antiquated ('dead') language, while its use and influence lasted well into the modern era - indeed, the majority of all surviving Latin texts come from the 17th century.

Planned Impact

Baroque Latinity will engage three major categories of beneficiaries:
1) general public, both people who already have an interest in Latin and/or the seventeenth century (such as members of Latin groups/evening classes, members of book clubs focusing on history, book collectors) and those who are first discovering these areas of the humanities;
2) professional and cultural sector (e.g. schoolteachers, librarians, library and museum curators).
In order to reach these sectors, the Baroque Latinity network will employ digital media, especially a publicly accessible website hosted by UCL that will be set up by the PI and Co-I. This will contain blogs from network members, links to library collections and digitized objects from project partners, as well as announcements of events sponsored by our network and other organizations. Moreover, the website will provide notes from the network's workshops as well as bibliographies of relevant books and articles. To reach as wide an audience as possible, news from our project will be sent out via social media.
3) academia - our project covers and is of interest to a broad range of academic subjects, within the Arts and Humanities (see 'Academic Beneficaries').

Activities:
1) book exhibitions - open to the public, in conjunction with the workshops at Merton College Oxford and Trinity College Cambridge; both of these will be accompanied by a blog or booklet. The Wellcome Collection in London will host a public event that will feature Baroque Latin materials from their collections. We will work together with the project partners to reach our beneficiaries. Also, the University of London Society of Bibliophiles and the Bibliographical Society have agreed to assist in promoting our events. Network participants and project partners will spread the news of our events through their own blogs and social media, as well as through posters and word of mouth.
2) public talks and seminar presentations (at lunchtime and in the evening) - at both the University of London (e.g., the UCL Festival of Culture and the School of Advanced Study's Being Human Festival) and at a London public library.
3) workshops - at regional schools and colleges.
Network members based outside London will organize similar events in their cities.

The network's activities will introduce those who belong to hobbyist Latin groups or who attend Latin classes to post-classical Latin authors and so expand their repertoire. Book clubs will benefit from the network's activity because a by-product of our research will be bibliographies of books on seventeenth-century history posted on our website. Book collectors, too, will be introduced to new authors and texts,and thus to new possibilities for beginning or developing a collection. Within the professional and cultural sector, school teachers who offer Classical Studies will be able to enrich their classes with post-Classical Latin. Librarians will be assisted in the cataloguing of rare books by the notes and bibliographies on the network's website as well as by the description of items displayed in the planned exhibitions. Museum curators will benefit from the connections between Baroque objects and texts that the project will demonstrate: our research on the contexts of Baroque writing and the importance of Latin in the seventeenth century will suggest ways to broaden the public appeal of their collections, and our outreach events and the materials accompanying them will generate ideas for planning exhibitions and other public events.

Overall, Baroque Latinity will introduce to the general public an era when Latin served as the dominant language of international communication. Our aim is to make Baroque Latinity more visible and more accessible. Our presentations to the public will be based directly on material from our research as a network.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description So far the Network has discovered that Latin writings of the seventeenth century display some specific characteristics; Network members are still in the process of determining whether the term 'Baroque' is the best label for these features.
Exploitation Route Network members are planning further grant applications to study the Latin literature of this period in greater depth.
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/research/research-projects/baroque-latinity
 
Description Libraries associated with cultural institutions have been able to refine the descriptions of their holdings. The general public has become more aware of the relevance of writing in Latin in the Baroque period and its particular characteristics. Colleagues are starting to use Baroque Latin texts in their teaching.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Baroque Latinity Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Monthly blogs by Network members to showcase particular items or key questions discussed, encourages further conversations among Network members and demonstrates work down to the wider public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/research/research-projects/baroque-latinity
 
Description Baroque Science: Early Modern Discoveries (Being Human Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Drop-in session at UCL Special Collections, displaying scientific books from the Baroque period written in Latin, encouraging dialogue with the audience on history of science and the role of Latin in this process
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://beinghumanfestival.org/event/baroque-science-early-modern-discoveries/
 
Description Postgraduate Workshop 'Baroque Latinity' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact About 25 postgraduate students and early-career researchers, mainly from the UK, but also from abroad, attended a day of talks and discussions, which provided an insight into the context, methodologies and approaches connected with research on Latin writings from the Baroque period.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/research/research-projects/baroque-latinity
 
Description Society for Neo-Latin Studies Annual Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One of the Network members gave the Annual Lecture of the Society for Neo-Latin Studies and thus promoted issues of Baroque Latinity to a range of colleagues and experts in this area.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/snls/news/?newsItem=8a17841a6da67569016ddb7de3e07117
 
Description UCL Rare-Books Club 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Drop-in session organised in collaboration with the Rare-Books Club series of UCL Special Collections, displaying some examples of Baroque Latin books to colleagues, students and the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/ucl-rare-books-club-latin-17th-century