Sixteenth Century Studies Conference
Bruges, August 18-20, 2016
Panel no.1 : Alternative approaches to More’s Utopia:
Literary and Geographical Considerations
This panel explores a few alternative approaches to Thomas More’s Utopia whether in the historical and geographical knowledge we have of the composition of the work or in its literary analyses.
The first paper, by Romuald Lakowski (Mcewan University, Canada), re-examines Thomas More’s relationships with the Low Countries. It starts with More’s embassy to Bruges to renegotiate the wool staple. Then it considers the importance of More’s visit to Peter Giles in Antwerp, a major emporium for the Portuguese spice trade (Hythloday, Utopia’s fictional narrator is Portuguese). Lastly, Peter Giles arranged for the publication of Utopia in Leuven. The study concludes on the importance of the Low Countries for the printing of More’s Neo-Latin works.
Thomas More's Utopia and the Low Countries: Bruges, Antwerp, Louvain -- A Reconsideration.
The second paper, by Jerry Harp (Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon, USA), discusses Utopia as an initiation into an open-ended dialogue that resonates well with certain strains of postmodern thought. Emphasis is laid on Character More’s rejection of Hythloday’s adherence to a singular language of truth in favor of a philosophy of improvisation in the theater of the world. There is more at stake than merely a rhetorical stance. Utopia involves a complex and shifting way of making sense of the world and our place in it.
More’s Utopia and Never-Ending Dialogue
The third paper, delivered by Guillaume Navaud (Université de Paris-Sorbonne, France) intends to explore the concept of otherness in Thomas More’s Utopia. Three different types of otherness contained in the adjective alienus will be analyzed: what is outside (belonging to someone else), what is foreign (geographically speaking) and what is strange (culturally speaking). The relationship between these three kinds of otherness makes for one of the main gaps between Utopia and Europe.
Otherness in More’s Utopia
Questions following the session "Alternatives Approaches to Thomas More's Utopia"
Panel no. 2: Utopia's Best Reader - by Alvaro Silva (Independent Scholar)
Among the many great readers of Thomas More’s Utopia, Vasco de Quiroga (c.1488-1565) appears to be most striking, even if we don’t know when or where he read the book. The Spaniard arrived in Mexico in 1530, a few years after Hernán Cortés, sent by Emperor Charles V with full judicial powers in a land devastated by the chaos, brutality, and greed of the conquest, the native people mercilessly abused and enslaved. Almost right away, Quiroga started to give his time, talent, and treasure to create what he called a new “policy” (policía) to protect the ‘indians” from the cruelty of the conquerors. He built refuges (pueblos hospitales), islands of hospitality which he also designed for all the lands and peoples in the New World, as the best way to secure peace, protect and evangelize the populations. He would describe the “pueblos” with words and ideas from his own reading of Utopia, and More was to him a brilliant Englishman inspired by the Holy Spirit both to learn from the native people and to build a new and better Christian civilization in the new land. When Quiroga became bishop of Michoacán in 1536, he must have felt the first real bishop of More’s Utopia. This paper intends to show that this qualifies him as the Utopia’s best reader.
Utopia's Best reader (listen to the questions following the lecture)