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Reading Neo-Latin Literature: Canonization, Occasion and Intertext


Admission requirements

This course is open to Master and Research Master students in Classics and Ancient Civilisations (track Classics or other tracks – but good command of Latin is a prerequisite to fololow the course), as well as Research Master and PhD students associated with OIKOS.


‘This is an exciting time for the study of neo-Latin literature’. With this statement Victoria Moul opened her introduction to the recently published A Guide to Neo-Latin literature (Cambridge, 2017). The main reason for this excitement is that in the last five years no less than three reference works for the study of Neo-Latin have been published, the other two being Brill’s Encyclopaedia of the Neo-Latin World (Leiden/Boston, 2014) and the Oxford Handbook to Neo-Latin (Oxford, 2015). The almost simultaneous publication of these works signals, in the words of Craig Kallendorf, ‘a new maturity for Neo-Latin studies’, meaning that they have become more and more aligned with adjacent disciplines, and are more and more concerned with methodological issues.
This seminar will take this ‘new maturity for Neo-Latin studies’ as point of departure and aims at understanding the role of neo-Latin texts in their wider literary and historical context. In so doing it will specifically focus on three characteristic features that are notorious for Neo-Latin research: canonization (of ancient authors, genres etc.), the relationship of Neo-Latin texts to social and political occasions, and the complex interconnections with both classical and contemporary literature.
Accordingly, in this seminar we will read a selection of neo-Latin texts, both prose and poetry, and analyze both their connection to events at the time, as well as their place within the tradition of Latin literature. In all this, the seminar will reserve ample time to introduce and discuss the necessary research tools.
Since this course is open to students with different backgrounds in the study of Neo-Latin literature, the definitive selection of texts will be partly adapted to the students’ research interests, but themes that are planned include: the canonizsation of classical (Cicero) and early modern authors (Petrarch); the role of dedicatees and pretexts; the role of political propaganda (esp. the tnsion between republican and imoperial/princely literature); and complexities of intertextuality (borders between intertext and topos; possible subversiveness of intertextual readings).

Course objectives

Knowledge & Insight:

  • Broadening the knowledge of Neo-Latin literature;

  • Broadening the knowledge of research tools for Neo-Latin literature;

  • Deepening insight in modern interdisciplinary approaches;

  • Enlarging reading and interpretative competence of Neo-Latin texts;

  • Enhancing presentation skills;

  • Enhancing writing skills;

  • Enhancing research skills.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Written exam (incl. translation)
Oral presentation, with full handout
Paper (3500-4000 words)

The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated: ResMA students are expected to come up with their own original research topic, choose a Neo-Latin text, find literature etc.; MA students may expect more help in choosing their texts and finding literature, and their papers may lean more heavily on existing scholarship on the given text.


Written exam: 30 %
Oral presentation: 30 %
Paper: 40 %
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components, with the additional requirement that all parts must be sufficient.


There is the possibility for a resit of all parts (for the oral presentation, the exact form of it has to be agreed upon with the techer).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Relevant literature for the sessions will be made available via Brightspace.
The following titles might be useful for a first orientation:

  • Bloemendal, Jan, Philip Ford and Charles Fantazzi (eds.), Brill’s Companion to the Neo-Latin world. 2 vols. (Leiden/Boston, 2014)

  • Kallendorf, Craig. “Recent Trends in Neo-Latin Studies. A Review Essay.” Renaissance Quarterly 69 (2016): 617–29.

  • Knight, Sarah, and Stefan Tilg (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin (Oxford, 2015)

  • Moul, Victoria (ed.), A Guide to Neo-Latin Literature (Cambridge, 2017)

  • Ijsewijn, Jozef and Dirk Sacré, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies. 2 vols. (Leuven, 1990-98)


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


For this course, presence and active participation are mandatory. This means that students are required to attend the classes, to be fully prepared and to join the discussions; students who are absent from more than two session without valid reason will be excluded from the examination.
Students who want to suggest texts or themes to be included in the course are invited to contact the teacher before the start of the course.