Prof.dr. K.A.E. (Karl) Enenkel (Emeritus)

  • Extraordinary professor
  • Classical languages and culture
  • Neo-Latin

Fields of interest

Neo-Latin; History of Ideas; Cultural History of the Renaissance; Emblemata; Latin Panegyrists; Suetonius; Tacitus


1) The New Management of Knowledge in the Early Modern Period: The Transmission of Classical Latin Literature via Neo-Latin Commentaries

This programmatic research focuses on the transmission of classical Latin literature through Neo-Latin commentaries in the early modern period. In the early modern period - ca. 1480-1700 – the whole of classical Latin literature became available in new editions, accompanied by textual commentaries. For the new transmission of knowledge, the Neo-Latin commentary was of pivotal importance. Spot checks have led to the hypothesis that Neo-Latin commentaries offer an extremely complex exegesis that systematically unlocks the classical texts for diverse disciplines and practices of knowledge, such as medicine, geography, zoology, agriculture, hunting, horsemanship and so on. In this respect, the Neo-Latin commentary differs fundamentally from the modern practice in classical philology. The early modern commentators transformed the classical texts into multifunctional archives of knowledge which were considered the basis of almost all areas of scholarship and science. This programmatic research analyses the various strategies of commenting which were used to achieve this goal, and relates them to discourses of the knowledge areas at which the commentaries were directed.
Because of the heterogeneity and the quantity of the sources, NWO’s programmatic research offers an ideal form to make this research possible. This programme consists of two well defined projects (1 dissertation, 1 monograph), as well as a synthesis to be written by the programme director. Project 1 and 2 study the commentaries on two very different sorts of texts: Roman metrical poetry (epos, lyric poetry, comedy) (The Neo-Latin Commentary: Roman Poetry as Literary Model and Archive of Knowledge) and classical Latin scientific prose, such as treatises on natural history, agriculture and so on (Roman Scientific and Encyclopaedic Literature – Foundation and Authorisation of Early Modern Knowledge). The programme director will write a synthetic, systematic monograph in which he will deepen and explore the results of the more detailed research projects within a broader framework of early modern intellectual life: the reception of classical antiquity, the history of science, the history of education and the history of reading. In this way the project will offer a thorough, comprehensive, and innovative examination of the important field of the Neo-Latin commentary, which is a serious desideratum at this moment.

2) Discourses of meditation and self-reflection in art and literature, 1300-1600

Modern scholars of the early modern period have increasingly realized that, by the end of the Middle Ages, meditation and self-reflection ―be it religious or secular in scope― had become part of the cultural habitus of many lay men and women living in the larger urban areas of Western Europe. Art and literature played an important role in communicating the values and practices of inner self-formation cultivated in monastic circles to these new audiences. In recent years, scholars from several disciplines have focused on the functional aspects of texts and images, as well as their interaction with each other, for the meditative and contemplative practices of these audiences. The formative power of the image―for the stirring of the imagination and for self-reflection—has become the centre of inquiry for art-, literary-, and other cultural historians. The aim of the current proposal for a NIAS-theme group is to bring representatives of these different fields of scholarship together. The particular purpose of this enterprise is to critically investigate and discuss some of the most recently voiced new ideas regarding the relationship between textual, representational and mental imagery in a number of late-medieval and early modern discourses of meditation and self-reflection. We would like to single out four fields of discourse from this period, in which the image as ‘machina’ for meditation and as a mirror for self-reflection takes central stage. These four fields are selected among others for several reasons. They involve both theoretical and practical notions of self-referentiality with regard to the medial status of the image and the reflection of the users of texts and visual images (including their own mental imagery) on their own meditative and contemplative practice. Furthermore, they allow scholars to study the complex relationships between textual, representational and mental imagery, in particular the question of what happens to the functionality of the image when metaphors and rhetorical devices for meditation and self-reflection travel from textual to pictorial media. Thirdly, these four fields of meditative and self-reflective discourse, according to modern scholarship, are interrelated in certain respects. The theses brought forward in this regard require critical assessment and evaluation, which the NIAS-research group aims to provide.

3) Recycling the Classics. Humanistic Scholarship, its Development and its Implications

Klassieke literatuur en taal, wetenschapsgeschiedenis en de geschiedenis van het humanisme: deze vakgebieden versmelten in een gezamenlijk onderzoeksprogramma van de Universiteit van Leiden en het Huygens Instituut. De doelstelling is vanuit een wetenschapshistorisch perspectief te komen tot een nieuwe geschiedenis van de filologie in de veertiende tot en met de achttiende eeuw. De humanistische tekstkritische methode wordt beschouwd als een nieuwe wetenschap, die zich ontwikkelt in relatie tot andere wetenschappen en de maatschappij. De aandacht gaat daarbij niet alleen uit naar veranderingen in de theorie en de methodologie, maar ook naar de alledaagse praktijk van de filologen, de wijze waarop zij hun kennis en inzichten verspreidden en – zo is de hypothese – lieten cumuleren in een veelomvattend kennissysteem. Verder geeft het programma aandacht aan de wetenschappelijke en maatschappelijke impact van de humanistische tekstedities.

Karl Enenkel is general editor of: Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 

Curriculum Vitae

Karl Enenkel (born 31-3-1959 in Vienna) studied classical languages, history, philosophy and art history at the University of Vienna (1977-1979) and classical languages at Leiden University (1979-1985). He specialised in classical Latin and Neo-Latin. In 1985 he took his degree (drs.) cum laude at Leiden University. In 1985-1988 he held the position of research assistant (doctoraal-assistent) in the department of Classics at Leiden University. In 1990 he defended his PhD thesis cum laude at the same university (Francesco Petrarca. De vita solitaria, Buch I. Kritische Textausgabe und ideengeschichtlicher Kommentar). This work was awarded an Erasmus study prize by the Prins Bernhard Fonds in 1991. In 1989-1991 he worked as a postdoctoral researcher for NWO. In 1991-1992 he replaced the Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Leiden University. In 1992-1997 he was fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen). In 1992-1993 he worked as a guest professor for Mediaeval and Neo-Latin (Mittel- und Neulatein) at the Christian Albrechts-Universität in Kiel (Germany). In 1997 he became a lecturer (universitair docent) at Leiden University, department of Classics. From 2006 on he has worked at the same department as senior lecturer. In 2004 he was appointed professor (hoogleraar) of Neo-Latin literature by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen), in 2007 professor of Neo-Latin literature by the Leids Universiteits Fonds (LUF).
Karl Enenkel co-initiated the first interdisciplinary international periodical in the field of early modern studies: Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies (1999). From 2003 on he has been general editor of this periodical. From 2003 to 2008, nine volumes of Intersections have appeared. From 1999 on he has coordinated the national research group De Neolatijnse Literatuur in Nederland 1475-1625 (Oikos). In 2002-2003, he obtained a Visiting Fellowship at the Internationales Forschungszentrum für Kulturwissenschaften (Vienna, Austria). Karl Enenkel is a member of several international editorial boards and organisations, such as the Conseil International pour l’édition des oeuvres complètes d’Erasme, or the series Imago figurata (Leuven). In 2005 he co-initiated the international series Proteus. Studies in Early Modern Identity Formation. In 2007 he obtained a visiting scholarship at the NIAS (Wassenaar) and was invited as director for the project Discourses of Self-Reflection and Meditation in Art and Literature, 1300-1600, at the same institute. In 2007 he was granted an NWO-programme in the ‘free competition’, The New Management of Knowledge in the Early Modern Period: The Transmission of Classical Latin Literature via Neo-Latin Commentaries, which will be carried out from 2008 to 2011.

Teaching activities

Research project by Drs C. Maas, Universiteit Leiden, vakgroep Griekse en Latijnse Talen en Culturen 
Promotor and supervisor: prof. dr. K.A.E. Enenkel (Universiteit Leiden)

Medievalism in the Neo-Latin Historiography of the Low Countries. A Narratological Perspective

The starting point of this project is the fascinating paradox that some humanists, despite the negative aesthetic-literary judgment of the Middle Ages that was common in their circles, wrote works of history about this very period. The programme aims to address the question what role this extraordinary medievalism played in the formation of ideology. This question is especially urgent in the case of the Low Countries, where a spectacular – though rather unexplored – output of historiography was generated in Early Modern Time, among which quite a number of works on medieval history. This was probably due to the political and religious changes related to the Dutch Revolt which had to be legitimized. It will be shown which kind of outlook, which ideological framework informs the presentation of medieval history in a selection from these writings. The project proposes to do this with the help of post-structuralist narrative theory. An analysis of the speech, thoughts, and actions described in the narrative and the coordination of their ideological implications by the narrator will be attempted in order to show the ideological pattern underlying the narrative. In addition, the project will investigate the rhetorical side of this presentation: how is this ideology brought forward in a persuasive way? The strength of this approach lies in its interdisciplinary perspective. Modern narrative theory will be brought in contact with Early Modern texts and poetics and research of medievalism will be combined with narratology and the search for ideology. It is my hope that from these confrontations innovative insights will emerge for all the fields concerned.


Monograph (bij: wetenschappelijke publicaties, monografieën):

- Die Erfindung des Menschen. Die Autobiographik des frühneuzeitlichen Humanismus von Petrarca bis Lipsius (Monographie, 923 pp.), Berlin, De Gruyter 2008 (ISBN 978-3-11-019352-7).

Scholarly books as editor/ coauthor:

- K.A.E. Enenkel – J. Papy (eds.), Petrarch and his Readers in the Renaissance (Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 6 (2006), Brill, Leiden-Boston (334 pp.)
- K.A.E. Enenkel – P.J. Smith (eds.), Early Modern Zoology. The Construction of Animals in Science, Literature and the Visual Arts, Brill, Leiden-Boston 2007, 2 vols. (648 pp.)
- K.A.E. Enenkel – P.J. Smith (eds.), Montaigne and the Low Countries, Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 8 (2007), Brill, Leiden-Boston (374 pp.)

Scholarly articles:

- “Epic Prophecy as Imperial Propaganda? Jupiter's First Speech in Virgil's Aeneid”, in:  The Manipulative Mode. Political Propaganda in Antiquity  (ed. K.A.E. Enenkel – I.L. Pfeijffer) (Leiden-Boston, 2005), 167-218
- “The Propagation of fortitudo: Gladiatorial Combats from ca. 85 B.C. to the Times of Trajan and their Reflection in Roman Literature”, in:  The Manipulative Mode. Political Propaganda in Antiquity  (ed. K.A.E. Enenkel – I.L. Pfeijffer) (Leiden-Boston 2005), 275-294
- „Rätsel eines unvollendeten Gedichtes: Giannantonio Campanos ‚autobiographisches Fragment’ in Urb. Lat. 338“, in: F. Corner, C.M. Monti, P.G. Schmidt (Hrsg.), Margarita amicorum. Studi di cultura europea per Agostino Sottili, Milano 2005 (Biblioteca erudita. Studi e documenti di storia e filologia 26), vol. I, 233-254
- „Ars Antiquitatis: Erkenntnissteuerung und Wissensverwaltung in Werken zur römischen Kulturgeschichte (ca. 1500-1750)“, in: - Cognition and the Book. Typologies of Formal Organisation of Knowledge in the Printed Book of the Early Modern Period (hrsg. Karl Enenkel – Wolfgang Neuber): Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 4 (2004) (Brill 2004), 51-123
- “Der Petrarca des Petrarca-Meisters: Zum Text-Bild-Verhältnis in illustrierten De- Remediis-Ausgaben“, in: Petrarch and his Readers in the Renaissance (K.A.E. Enenkel – J. Papy, ed.), Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 6 (2006), Brill, Leiden-Boston (334 pp.; 2006), 91-169.
- K.A.E. Enenkel (together with J. Papy), “Towards a New Approach of Petrarch’s Reception in the Renaissance – the ‚Independent Reader’”, in: Petrarch and his Readers in the Renaissance (K.A.E. Enenkel – J. Papy, ed.), Intersections. Yearbook for Early Modern Studies 6 (2006), Brill, Leiden-Boston (334 pp.; 2006), 1-10.
- “Erasmus-Epitaphe als Medium der Selbstdefinition der Respublica litteraria”, in: M. Sebök (ed.), Republic of Letters, Humanism, Humanities. Selected Papers of the workshop held at the Collegium Budapest in cooperation with NIAS between November 25 and 28, 1999, Budapest 2005, 63-73.
- “Imagines agentes. Geheugenboeken en de organisatie van kennis in de Neolatijnse literatuur”, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam 2006.
- “The Neo-Latin Emblem Book: Humanist Learning, Classical Antiquity and Virtual ‘Wunderkammer’ (ed. P. Daly, neues internationales Handbuch zur Emblematik; erscheint 2007)
- “Reciprocal Authorisation: The Function of Dedications and Dedicatory Prefaces in 15th and 16th Century ‘Artes Antiquitatis’” (Kongress des Belgischen Institutes in Rom).
-  “Ein Humanistenwerk im Kloster: das Rezeptionspotential von Francesco Petrarcas De vita solitaria“, Petrarca. Interdisziplinäre Tagung zum 700. Geburtstag, jul. 2004, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg (Bamberg, 2008)
- “The Development of 16th Century Mythography: Georgius Pictorius’s Theologica Mythologica, Apotheosis deorum and Julien De Havrech’s De cognominibus deorum gentilium, in: Carl van de Velde et alii (eds.), Classical Mythology in the Netherlands in the Age of Renaissance and Baroque (Brussel 2008). 
-“The Neo-Latin Epigram. Towards the Definition of a Genre”, in: S. de Beer, K.A.E. Enenkel, D. Rijzer (eds.) The Neo-Latin Epigram: Towards the Definition of a Genre, Acta of the International Conference, Rome 2006
- “Die Neulateinische Autobiographik. Ein Versuch zur literarischen Identitätsformation des Humanismus”, keynote lecture XIIIth International Congress of the International Association for Neo-Latin Studies, Budapest 6-12 augustus 2006, im Druck, erscheint in: Varietas Gentium – Communis Latinitas. Acta of the 13th International Congress for Neo-Latin Studies.
- “Laatantieke retorica en propaganda. Panegyricus op Keizer Constantijn de Grote”, in: J. Bloemendal – P.J. Smith (eds.), De Muze en de Mythe. Over de literaire verwerking van het verleden, Amersfoort 2007 (ISBN 978 90 75540 35 2), 9-26.
- “Ein Humanistenwerk im Kloster: Rezeptiospotential und Diskursivität von Francesco Petrarca’s „De vita solitaria“”, in: L. M. Bragina (Hrsg.), Francesko Petrarka y evropejskaja kultura, Moskau, Navka, 2007 (ISBN 5-02-033879-6), 24-32.
- “Introduction. Early Modern Zoology”, in: Early Modern Zoology. The Construction of Animals in Science, Literature and the Visual Arts (K.A.E. Enenkel – P.J. Smith, eds.), Brill, Leiden-Boston 2007, 2 vols. (648 pp.), vol. I, 1-12.
- “Zur Konstituierung der Zoologie als Wissenschaft in der Frühen Neuzeit: Diskursanalyse zweier Grossprojekte (Wotton, Gesner)”, in: Early Modern Zoology. The Construction of Animals in Science, Literature and the Visual Arts (K.A.E. Enenkel – P.J. Smith, eds.), Brill, Leiden-Boston 2007, 2 vols. (648 pp.), vol. I, 15-74.

Last Modified: 31-01-2013