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This one day interdisciplinary colloquium seeks to bring together scholars working on literature, history, and philosophy to examine early modern ideas about imagination in various, overlapping spheres.
Cultural discourses shaping ideas about the imagination were extremely diverse in the early modern period. Aristotelian, Neoplatonic, and Galenic theories persisted in influencing concepts of the power of the imagination, often in relation to illness and health. Renaissance theory of rhetoric and poetry emphasised the power of the poet as maker to 'figure-forth' in language a 'better', less 'brazen' world than the one in which we live. From religious perspectives, materialist conceptions of the imagination were fiercely condemned by some, while for others an important aspect of religious imagination was concerned with the role of the senses in spiritual life. Recent research has focused on disorders of the imagination, and their close association with excesses of the passions, but this colloquium seeks to broaden understanding of early modern concepts of imagination through comparing how these, and other, discourses concerned with the imagination compare and intersect.