Call for Papers Annual Conference of the Renaissance Society of America Chicago 2024

CFP for panels at the next Renaissance Society Annual Conference in Chicago, March 21–23, 2024 

Clandestine Diversities: Dissembling and Dissenting in Early Modern Europe 

EMoDiR is an international research group focusing on the history of religious dissent, radicalism, and minorities in early modern times ( Since 2011, the group has organized panels at RSA annual conferences on practices and conceptual frameworks of religious conflict, heresy, and groups of radical dissent. The panels are characterized by a multiplicity of methodological and theoretical approaches.  

EMoDiR is now planning for the upcoming RSA conference in Chicago (March 21–23, 2024) a series of panels discussing practices of simulation and dissimulation in the context of religious dissent. 

Scholarship has long posited that the emergence of the chasm between inner states and external manifestations was one of the crucial nuclei of early modern culture. Historians have argued that the collapse of traditional cosmologies, scientific principles, political certainties, and centuries-old social hierarchies “turned the reality unreal.” For many, truth was relegated to eternity, the present world became a theatre, life a dream, and all human actions marred by hypocrisy. Numerous religious groups found themselves in environments hostile to their beliefs and their practices were subjected to close scrutiny. Clandestine forms of religiosity became a norm in whole swatches of Europe. The advent of political absolutism and post-Tridentine church censorship policies were countered by the advance of sophisticated forms of veiled and indirect communication. The rise of inwardness and calls for deep introspection – from poetry, through philosophical meditation, to the techniques of self-examination developed for the purpose of preparing for the sacrament of confession – was paralleled by the imposition of strict circumspection on all external expressions of one’s self. Hypocrisy and dissimulation became not only ways of shielding oneself from real or potential persecution, but also a tool for social climbing and a crucial element in the construction of human personality. 

We shall welcome papers exploring the following topics: 

  • Religious persecution and clandestine religiosity 
  • Sociology of clandestine groups, sects, and movements 
  • Inner duplicity, self-reflection, and the “formation of the self” 
  • Hypocrisy and Renaissance and Baroque court culture 
  • Religious and political imposture, false identities and charlatanry 
  • The arts of simulation and dissimulation as rhetorical and literary phenomena 
  • Theory and practice of clandestine experience across various religious traditions (reservatio mentalis, equivocation, amphibology, taqiya, kitman

Proposals should be submitted by July 9, 2023 by email to Paweł Maciejko ( and Maria Ivanova ( with full name, current affiliation, and email address; a paper title (15-word maximum), an abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, Ph.D. completion date (past or expected), and a brief CV (150 words maximum). Inquiries about the content of the CFP can be directed to the same email addresses. After the conference, all participants will be asked to submit their papers for publication in a planned collected volume. 

Select bibliography: 

Cavaillé, Jean-Pierre. Dis/simulations. Jules-César Vanini, François La Mothe Le Vayer, Gabriel Naudé, Louis Machon et Torquato Accetto: religion, morale et politique au XVIIe siècle. Paris: Honoré Champion, 2008. 

Eliav-Feldon, Miriam and Tamar Herzig, editors. Dissimulation and Deceit in Early Modern Europe. London, New York: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2015. 

Ginzburg, Carlo. Il Nicodemismo: Simulazione e Dissimulazione Religiosa nell’ Europa del ’500. Turin: Einaudi, 1970. 

Snyder, Jon R. Dissimulation and the Culture of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2009. 

Zagorin, Perez. Ways of Lying: Dissimulation, Persecution, and Conformity in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 1990. 

Cite this blog post
Xenia von Tippelskirch (2023, June 6). Call for Papers Annual Conference of the Renaissance Society of America Chicago 2024. EMoDiR. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

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