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The Rediscovery of Epic Writing in France

International Workshop on October 17 and 18 at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 302/2019 from Oct 15, 2019

Epic literature in France around 1500 is the topic of an international public workshop on October 17 and 18, 2019, at Freie Universität Berlin. The event will be in English and French. Daniel Melde (Freie Universität Berlin) and Sandra Provini (Université de Rouen) are organizing the event. Sandra Provini is a visiting scholar at Freie Universität Berlin through the Dahlem Junior Host Program.

The French military expeditions against Italy, England, and the Habsburg monarchy around 1500 inspired a wide number of texts in France that employed the formula of ancient epic poetry in order to portray significant historical events. Pagan gods, epic aristeiai, impressive ekphrasis, and a poetic language based on Virgil and other ancient poets are typical features of poems written during this period. Influenced by Italian humanists, who themselves were in the service of French kings, the poets describe scenes with booming canons and army maneuvers, but also include descriptions of Greek gods intervening in battles or comparisons of Louis XII and Francis I with epic heroes like Achilles, Hector, and Aeneas.

“The Rediscovery of Epic Writing in France around 1500. Negotiating Genre in a European Humanist Context” will shed light on the form and function of these works written in French and Latin, which involve a complex intermingling of poetry and history, thereby touching upon one of the basic problems in literary theory surrounding the Early Modern period. The confrontation between an “old” poetic tradition with a historically “new” topic might seem strange at first, but this kind of historical epic was extremely influential during the early French Renaissance and throughout Europe during the entire Early Modern period.

The workshop is part of the research group “Discursivisations of the New: Tradition and Innovation in Medieval and Early Modern Texts and Images,” which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It has also received support from partners such as the Dahlem Humanities Center (Freie Universität Berlin), Université de Rouen Normandie and its research network CÉRÉdI (Centre d’Études et de Recherche Éditer/Interpréter), as well as Freie Universität’s Center for Italian Studies.

Further Information

Time and Location of the Workshop “The Rediscovery of Epic Writing in France around 1500”

  • Thursday, October 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday, October 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Seminarzentrum, Room L 116, Habelschwerdter Alle 45, 14195 Berlin, Subway stations: Dahlem-Dorf or Freie Universität/Thielplatz (U3)

Further Information and Workshop Schedule



Sabine Greiner, scientific coordinator, DFG-funded research group FOR 2305 “Discursivisations of the New,” Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-50455, Email: sabine.greiner@fu-berlin.de