In 1946 the Czech comparatist René Wellek published an essay titled “The Concept of Baroque in Literary Scholarship,” in which he argued that despite its shortcomings, the term “Baroque” remains the indispensable term for the period of European—and he might have added, American—artistic production between the Renaissance and neoclassicism. This lecture revisits “the concept of Baroque" for the twenty-first century. It proposes a new way of thinking about the Baroque through the problem of inception, or the continual articulation of a Baroque world-view against the background of what preceded it. When a concept is always being born over a century or more and yet is never fully established, what sort of period-term is it? Moreover, the lecture speaks to how we might imagine the Baroque not only in literary and humanistic scholarship, as Wellek had it, but in the world of the seventeenth century, as a practice that spanned the arts, the Old and New Worlds, and the divisions of race and gender.
Bio: ROLAND GREENE is a scholar of Renaissance culture, especially the literatures of England, Latin Europe, and the transatlantic world, and of poetry and poetics from the sixteenth century to the present. He is the founder and director of Arcade (http://arcade.stanford.edu), a digital salon for literature and the humanities. In 2015-16 he served as President of the Modern Language Association of America. He teaches at Stanford University.