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CMRS Faculty Colloquia 2011-2012

18 Nov, “The Graphic Art of a Medieval Italian Priest”

Karl Whittington, History of Art
2:30 pm, Smith Lab 3094
Historians of medieval religion, literature and history have done much in the past decades to reveal the embodied, gendered and sexual aspects of medieval identity and culture. Yet historians of medieval art have rarely been able to match this new, “graphic” Middle Ages; in the cultural imagination, medieval art still lies largely in the realm of the spiritual, the decorative, and the pursuit of beauty. In my current research, I explore a little-known fourteenth-century Italian priest and artist, Opicinus de Canistris, whose works disrupt a number of our conceptions of medieval art. Most of my research focuses on Opicinus’s negotiation of art, science and belief in a series of incredibly complex and disorienting drawings and diagrams that combine human bodies with medieval maps. In this colloquium, however, I want to focus specifically on Opicinus’s unprecedented depiction of graphically sexual bodies within these drawings. I explore what playing with gendered, sexual bodies within his otherwise theological diagrams allowed him to express. From Opicinus’s apparent representations of dual-sexed figures, to his incredible and bizarre self-representation as a penis, my talk explores how and why the sexual realm enters medieval images.

24 Feb, “Uncivil Dialogue in Hell: Communication and Community in Dante’s Inferno"

Lorenzo Valterza, French and Italian
2:30 pm, 259 Hagerty Hall
The intersection of language and politics is fundamental to any reading of Dante’s corpus. My current research deals broadly with the crucial role of dialogue in the creation of meaning. For this colloquium, I explore representations of the communicative act in the final cantos of Dante’s Inferno. My talk makes use of theories of communication both contemporary to Dante and more recent, especially those following in the wake of the ontological turn in hermeneutics in the early 20th century.

4 May, “Sepher Yosippon, an Orphaned History up for Adoption”

Steven Bowman, Judaic Studies Department, University of Cincinnati
2:30 pm, 220 Schoenbaum Hall
The renaissance of Hebrew in Byzantine south Italy during the 9th-12th century has been slowly recovered during the past century. Sepher Yosippon, dated in a colophon of the mid tenth century raises interesting question of the interaction of Jews with their contemporary cultures. Sepher Yosippon produced a seminal history of the Second Temple Period that remained the basic history of the period for a millennium of Jews. Displaced in the early 20th century by the Hebrew translations of Josephus, it is now being recognized as a major medieval contribution in its own right and part of a more than respectable literary output from Byzantine south Italy.

11 May, “Camões, Colonialism, and the History of Sexuality”

Carmen Nocentelli, University of New Mexico
3:30 pm, 255 Hagerty Hall
Working against the tendency to view Western sexual ideologies as if they emerged, fully formed, from within Europe alone, Nocentelli proposes that an emerging globalization shaped how early moderns defined what was “normal” in matters of sex. “Camões, Colonialism, and the History of Sexuality” traces the literary and historical contexts of the Isle of Love episode, the climax of Camões’s epic poem Os Lusídas. Engaging with the intermarriage policies that characterized Portugal’s early expansion into Asia, the Isle of Love episode elaborates an erotic script that was deeply inflected by the uncertainties and contradictions of the imperial enterprise. Camões’s work thus represents a privileged vantage point from which to trace the connections between the history of sexuality and the history of European imperialism.

Carmen Nocentelli is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of New Mexico. She is an early modernist with an interest in the transformations brought about by Europe’s overseas expansion and pursues a research agenda that crosses both disciplinary and territorial borders. Her forthcoming book, Islands of Love: Race, Sexuality, and the Euro-Asian Encounter (University of Pennsylvania Press) focuses on Europe’s fascination with the erōs of Asia. Drawing on print, manuscript, and archival sources in a variety of European languages, she argues that this fascination was not only about policing the Euro-Asian contact zone, but also about inventing European racial and sexual identities. A native of Italy, she first arrived in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship. Since then, she has been a Whiting Dissertation Fellow at Stanford University, a Meyers Fellow at the Huntington Library, and an NEH Fellow at the Newberry Library.

Co-sponsored by the OSU Iberian and Latin American Colloquium, the Instituto Camões Portugal, and CMRS


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