Call for Papers RSA Panel: Patronage and Innovation

Patronage and innovation: how patronage shaped textual culture in the early modern world

Studying patronage is crucial for understanding the early modern world. Indeed, recent scholarship on patronage covers the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, it studies countries as diverse as Italy and the Dutch Republic, and it focuses on artifacts ranging from scientific theses to funerary poems, from paintings to coins. Although scholars of patronage occasionally cross borders between countries, genres, or time periods, we believe we can bring scholarship a step further by comparing contexts systematically to uncover underlying mechanisms. In this panel, we focus on textual patronage, by which we mean patronage of clients (authors, editors, printers) who produce texts of any kind.

Bringing together case studies from various contexts allows us to explore our main question of how textual patronage relates to the client’s intellectual and artistic freedom, and hence to originality and innovation. In which cases are authors free to create something new? Does economic or social success lead to more autonomy? Is patronage a stimulus for innovation, or does it prevent authors from being innovative? In other words, is patronage limiting or liberating? The question of what causes innovation is one of the points of focus within the interdisciplinary field of the history of knowledge, and several tentative explanations have been suggested. By focusing on patronage relations, we add another perspective to this debate.

Our aim is to compare case studies of patronage across regions, periods, communities, ideologies, and genres, in order to draw tentative conclusions about patronage in relation to intellectual and artistic freedom. We invite speakers from literary studies as well as intellectual history and history of science to submit papers. We intend to make the panel a collaborative effort and would like to discuss in advance with all presenters which specific questions we will all answer, in order to systematically study the mechanisms of innovation in textual products of patronage.


Submission guidelines

Interested participants are invited to submit the following:

  • a 400-word abstract as well as a 150-word short version
  • a curriculum vitae, including full name, affiliation, and email address; max. 5 pages
  • paper keywords.

Please send all materials to Annet den Haan ( and to Nina Geerdink ( The deadline for submissions is 31 July 2020. Decisions on submissions will be sent out at least one week before the RSA submission deadline of 15 August 2020.

All participants in the Dublin conference (on site or virtual) must be members of the Renaissance Society of America. Please not that RSA rules allow a participant to present only one paper.


Jaarcongres 2020 geannuleerd

Het zal waarschijnlijk niet verbazen dat het bestuur van de werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw heeft moeten besluiten in 2020 geen jaarcongres te houden. Het geplande congres op vrijdag 28 augustus a.s. in Utrecht gaat helaas niet door.

De organisatie van het congres, dat dit jaar als thema zou hebben ‘De culturele dimensie van de Nederlandse expansie overzee’, was al in volle gang en het beloofde een dynamische, internationale bijeenkomst te worden. Gelukkig betekent uitstel geen afstel en zijn congrescommissie en sprekers bereid in 2021 alsnog het jaarcongres te organiseren rond dit spannende thema. Het volgende jaarcongres kan dus alvast in de agenda, het zal plaatsvinden op vrijdag 27 augustus 2021 in Utrecht.

De scriptieprijs kan door het uitstellen van het congres dit jaar niet feestelijk overhandigd worden, maar zal wel uitgereikt worden. De jury is al druk aan het lezen. Kandidaten zullen eind augustus persoonlijk op de hoogte gebracht worden van de uitslag, daarnaast ontvangen alle werkgroepleden een mail waarin de winnaar bekend gemaakt wordt.