Appel à contribution – The paths of humanism: professional mobility and cultural expansion during the Renaissance

A thematic issue for the Revue Diasporas, 2020/1, coordinated by Clémence Revest (CNRS-Centre Roland Mousnier UMR 8596, Sorbonne Université) and Cécile Caby (CIHAM UMR 5648/Université Lumière Lyon 2)



The history of humanism during the Renaissance is one of an international cultural circulation which saw the rise of “humanities studies”, born in north-central Italy at the turn of the fifteenth century, and which came to dominate other models for a large part of the Western élite during the next two centuries. If the exchange of letters and books was surely an important vector in the development of this movement, it is also important to consider this phenomenon in light of mobility, particularly the professional mobility of the learned adherents of these scholarly practices, by creating a dialogue between intellectual and social history.

First, it is a matter of examining the creation of a sort of “humanist labor market”, which offered new emigration opportunities to learned men of letters, as the wave of studia humanitatis spread to new circles. The quest for appointments as chancellor or secretary, teacher or university professor, historiographer or court poet, renowned for their competency in the “humanities”, was the motivating force behind a number of itinerant careers (more or less successful), beginning with the modest Italian “brain drain” which itself contributed to promoting the humanist program. Individual peregrinations and overall cultural influence mutually sustained each other, encouraged by a climate of emulation and competition between rulers. This approach implicated the printing trades as well, which, as we know, rapidly expanded all over Europe and were one of the major channels for the widespread diffusion of humanism. It can also be applied to the study of certain statesmen’s careers, particularly itinerant magistrates and diplomats, enamoured of humanism and inclined to put its scholarly tools into the service of their political practices (one thinks of the oratory practice that spearheaded the humanist project) ; the same goes for the clerics (both Regular and Secular), whose mobility over the course of their studies (particularly intense among certain members of the mendicant orders), their career opportunities (with an eye towards the Roman curate or during councils) or their pastoral or institutional obligations made some of them veritable cultural transmitters.

The contributions to this issue will be the occasion to shine a light on these mixed socio-cultural dynamics, through investigation of specific humanist trajectories or specific places of interest (towns, courts, chancelleries, universities) and socio-scholarly networks, within a broad chronological perspective (15th-17th centuries.) We will ask the question of the long-term impact of the circulations noted above as well as the roots of humanism and its assimilation at the local level. It is also possible to bring to light lesser-known places of expansion and cases of forgotten “cultural intermediaries”. Similarly, the careers of secondary figures, of “ordinary” professionals of classicizing rhetoric, who made up in some sense the anonymous mass of the humanist employment tide, would make for a fruitful starting point. Although one’s attention is naturally drawn first towards Italy and Europe, studies focusing on other regions (for example, the New World) are welcome.
Submission guidelines

Contributions of maximum length 50,000 characters may be submitted in French, English, or Italian.


Before February 15, 2019: article proposition period:

title and abstract (max. 3000 characters.) Response by the end of April.

Before September 1, 2019: submission of first draft of article

Please send your proposition to and

Source : Calenda

A propos RMBLF

Réseau des médiévistes belges de langue française
Cet article a été publié dans Appel à contributions. Ajoutez ce permalien à vos favoris.