Despite its enormous extent and significance, Neo-Latin literature, i.e. the Latin literature written from the Renaissance to the present day, is little studied and poorly represented in academic institutions. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies (LBI) intends to make up for this shortcoming by its exclusive dedication to Neo-Latin literature (with a focus on the 16th to the 18th centuries) and by a fresh approach: many studies have tended to look at Neo-Latin from the perspective of other disciplines such as classics, history, or the modern languages, which has cemented a misconception of the inferior nature and backward orientation of Neo-Latin literature. The LBI, by contrast, programmatically focuses on those aspects of Neo-Latin literature which can be understood as a dynamic element of early modern culture and which have made a significant contribution to the emergence of Europe as we know it today.
This view will be developed in three key areas where Neo-Latin literature has particularly impacted on the formation of modern Europe: politics, religion, and ‘history of mentalities’ (histoire des mentalités). Each key area is divided into two projects, with the first projects of each area being pursued in 2011–2014, the second project in 2015–2017.
In politics our first project deals with the integrative, but also diversifying role of Neo-Latin in the multilingual and multinational Habsburg Empire. Here, a particular emphasis is placed upon administration and journalism on the one hand, and prose fiction on the other hand. The second project will concern the rise of vernacular grammars written in Latin and designed on the model of the Latin language as examples.
In religion, the first project studies the hitherto neglected Catholic school drama of the 18th century and its relation to the Enlightenment; the second is devoted to hymnography from the 16th to 18th century and its significance to the contemporaneous religious mindset.
The projects in the field of history of mentalities will shed light on two complex developments which have contributed to the evolution of our attitudes toward nature and the individual. The first project examines the early modern shift in our conceptualization of the mountains (as an example of a hitherto avoided, ‘extreme’ landscape); the second project investigates the relation of the individual to language and literature and attempts to outline a Neo-Latin prehistory of Romantic theories of poetry – which are still very influential today.
Our partners in this research programme are the University of Innsbruck, the University of Freiburg i. Br., the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna and the Pontificio Comitato di Scienze Storiche in Rome. The LBI is based in Innsbruck and has outposts at the partner organizations in Freiburg, Vienna, and Rome.