The lecture series was established in 1982. The previous speakers include eminent international individuals devoted to research on Erasmus including James McConica, Jean-Claude Margolin, M. A. Screech, J. B. Trapp, Miekske van Poll, Willem Frijhoff, and Peter Bietenholz. Anita Traninger is the first German scholar invited to speak in this series. In her lecture she will show how Erasmus, who Luther described as an eel because of his ambiguity, resorted to patterns of rhetoric and dialectics to distinguish between the individual and the matter under discussion.
The Erasmus of Rotterdam Society was founded in 1980 to contribute to the further study of the works of Erasmus of Rotterdam and his intellectual milieu. The Society publishes a yearbook entitled Erasmus Studies, and in addition to the Birthday Lecture organizes a second major lecture series entitled Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture. The latter lectures take place each year in the United States in memory of Erasmus’s death (July 12). The Erasmus of Rotterdam Society is a partner society of the Renaissance Society of America and the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference.
Anita Traninger was a fellow of the Einstein Foundation Berlin until September 2015. On October 1, 2015, she was appointed a professor of Romance languages and literatures at Freie Universität with a focus on rhetoric and the history of knowledge.