Networks, poetics and multilingual society in early modern Baltic Sea Region, 30-31th August 2018


Networks, poetics and multilingual society in early modern Baltic Sea Region

30-31th August 2018
Finnish Literature Society
Helsinki, Finland

In different languages of the Baltic Sea region, oral and literary cultures have existed in continuous, long-term, and transnational interaction. Yet, the research has often been divided into linguistic, disciplinary or national branches. The aim of the present conference is to create discussion between scholars interested in social networks, early modern poetics, song languages, and multilingual encounters in the Baltic Sea area in the early modern period.

The late medieval and early modern Baltic Sea region witnessed major political, social, cultural, and religious changes, as well as the transformation of linguistic and poetic systems. In studying these, scholarship has traditionally emphasized the role of large-scale socio-cultural processes: the rise of new territorial powers, Reformation and the spread of Protestantism, book printing, and vernacular literacy. Yet, recently, more and more attention is being paid to the agents and actors of these broad changes: individuals, texts, songs and other artefacts, which transmitted new kinds of ideas, attitudes, and practices.

The conference sets out to examine the transfer of knowledge and practices across various regional and political, ethnic and social groups. Accentuating the broad, pan-European, or even global scale of early modern communication, knowledge exchange, and networks of clergy and learned elites, traders, aristocrats and bourgeoisie, this transnational approach challenges the national research traditions. We also encourage rethinking the relations between the learned elite and popular folk culture, as well as the relationship between the local communities, and the institutions of power, religion, and learning.

We welcome studies concerning letters, early books, songs, manuscripts, sermons, hymnals, and other kind of texts and manuscripts in Scandinavian, Finnic and Baltic languages, Latin, and German, as well as other vernaculars that would enable investigating the cultural and religious transfer between the local peoples and the elites, as well as the role of various networks in these processes.


Keynote speakers

Andrew Pettegree (University of St Andrews)
Jason Lavery (Oklahoma State University)
Kristiina Ross (Institute of the Estonian Language)

Main themes

1. Effects of the Reformation on oral and literary cultures
2. Social networks across the early modern Baltic sea
3. Interaction of song registers and literary poetics

Abstracts of 250–300 words should be submitted by 15th February to

Practical information will be available at The conference has no registration fee.

The conference is organised by the project of the Finnish Academy “Letters and Songs: Registers of Beliefs and Expressions in the Early Modern North”,