Kai Schöpe

Transformation, Translation and Travesty – Studies on the appropriation of classical literature in the Seicento 

Doctoral Candidate

Address Habelschwerdter Allee 45
14195 Berlin
Email k.schoepe@t-online.de

Kai Schöpe, born in 1987, studied Philosophy, Latin and Italian Literature at Humboldt University Berlin and at the University of Siena (Italy). He completed an M.A. programme in Latin Studies with a thesis on Virgil’s Bucolics in summer 2012. In the same year, he earned a second bachelor’s degree (Italian Studies) with a thesis on Gadda’s novel “Quer pasticciaccio brutto de Via Merulana” and its allusions to antiquity. Since 2011, he has been part of the project “Translations of Antiquity” within the Collaborative Research Centre 644 “Transformations of Antiquity” (Berlin) to which he will remain affiliated. He held a German National Academic Foundation scholarship for the entirety of his studies.


In his Ph.D. project, Kai Schöpe examines the treatment of “classical” (Latin and Italian) literature by 17th century authors in Italy and elsewhere. The beginning of the Baroque era saw changes to the definition of literary value and to the pre-conditions for the production of literature. According to contemporary critics and authors, the virtuosity of the concetti and witticisms employed came to represent the true measure of literary excellence – thus superseding the traditional aptum/decorum rule. Following their ingegno, striving for both acutezza and meraviglia, the writers create works which refer directly, usually beginning with the title, to ancient or contemporary “classics” – and then proceed to re-write them. This produces hybrid forms that venture beyond traditional genre limits, frequently characterised by a comic and burlesque tone. Examples can be found in Giovan Battista Lalli’s works, including Rime del Petrarca trasformate, Tito Vespasiano overo Gerusalemme disolata, L’Eneide travestita and L’Egloghe di Virgilio tradotte. The project traces these processes n(transformation, destruction, travesty, translation) and analyses their impact on the conception of authorship and on the respective audiences. Each riscrittura is determined by claims to authorial prestige that arise within certain cultural and medial contexts, influencing the process of canonisation (and, conversely, decanonisation).