The Reach of the Republic of Letters: Literary and Learned Societies in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (2 Vols.)


Present-day scholarship holds that the Italian academies were the model for the European literary and learned society. This volume questions the ‘Italian paradigm’ and discusses the literary and learned associations in Italy and Spain – explicitly called academies – as well as others in Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The flourishing of these organizations from the fifteenth century onwards coincided chronologically with the growth of performative literary culture, the technological innovation of the printing press, the establishment of early humanist networks, and the growing impact of classical and humanist ideas, concepts, and forms on vernacular culture. One of the questions this volume raises is whether and how these societies related to these developments and to the world of Learning and the Republic of Letters.
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Biographical Note

Arjan van Dixhoorn received a PhD in History from the Free University of Amsterdam (2004). He is a postdoctoral research fellow at Antwerp University in a Flemish-Dutch research project on public opinion making in the early modern Netherlands.

Susie Speakman Sutch, Ph.D. (1983) in Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Early Modern History at Ghent University. She has published on late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century literature and civic culture in the Southern Low Countries.

Review Quotes

(...) Taken as a formal aid to confine the period of time and social group the notion 'Republic of Letters' is very helpful to allude to the learned as a main group and actors in all the research papers. The papers (...) reveal, throught example, individuall diverse and highly complex interconnectivities, qualities that would be lost in a mere collection of data
Anja-Silvia Goeing, Studium, Vol 3, No 1 (2010) 48-49

Table of contents


List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Introduction, Arjan van Dixhoorn and Susie Speakman Sutch

1. The Consistori del Gay Saber of Toulouse (1323–c. 1484), Laura Kendrick
2. Patrons of Poetry: Rouen’s Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, Dylan Reid
3. The Joyful Companies of the French-Speaking Cities and Towns of the Southern Netherlands and their Dramatic Culture (Fifteenth–Sixteenth Centuries), Katell Lavéant
4. Chambers of Rhetoric: Performative Culture and Literary Sociability in the Early Modern Northern Netherlands, Arjan van Dixhoorn
5. The Basoche in the Late Middle Ages: A School of Technical savoir-faire, Marie Bouhaïk-Gironès
6. The Roman ‘Academy’ of Pomponio Leto: From an Informal Humanist Network to the Institution of a Literary Society, Susanna de Beer
7. The Companies of Meistergesang in Germany, Michael Baldzuhn


8. The Heritage of the Umidi: Performative Poetry in the Early Accademia Fiorentina, Inge Werner
9. The Accademia degli Alterati and Civic Virtue, Henk Th. van Veen
10. Seventeenth-Century Academies in the City of Granada: A Comparatist Approach, Francisco J. Álvarez, Ignacio García Aguilar, and Inmaculada Osuna
11. The Growth of Civil Society: The Emergence of Guilds of Lawyers in the Southern Low Countries in its European Context (the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century), Hilde de Ridder-Symoens
12. Reading the Universal Book of Nature: The Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (1603–1630), Irene Baldriga
13. Alles zu Nutzen—The Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft (1617–1680) as a German Renaissance Academy, Gabriele Ball

Epilogue, Arjan van Dixhoorn

Appendix Questionnaire: The Reach of the Republic of Letters

Name Index
Subject Index


All those interested in intellectual history, the history of late medieval and early modern vernacular literatures, performative literary culture, as well as the history of literary and learned societies.


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