2016-2017 CMRS Lecture Series




2016 2017 Lecture Series Poster

**all lectures will be held at 4:00 p.m. in 070/090 18th Avenue Library, except where otherwise noted below, and are all free and open to the public**


Roland Greene (Stanford University): "The Concept of Baroque in Literature - and the World"

Date: Friday, September 9, 2016

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090


Image of Professor Roland Greene (Stanford University)

Stream Lecture (link coming soon)

Abstract: 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.

María Antonia Garcés (Cornell University): "At Sea in the Mediterranean: Cervantes's Encounters with Islam"

Date: Friday, September 30, 2016

Time: 4PM

Location: Thompson Library, Room 202 (part of the Cervantes symposium 9/30-10/1)


Professor Garces publicity photo

Abstract: This talk examines the apparition of the Mediterranean throughout Cervantes’s works, focusing in particular on Don Quijote (1605, 1615). For Cervantes, the internal sea represented the brutal scenario of war against the Turks and the even more disturbing setting of his Algerian captivity, which left an indelible mark in his work. No other writer of the period was able to represent the Mediterranean in his fiction like Cervantes. The “Great Sea” insistently returns to his literary production. Seascapes, maritime adventures, tempests, naval battles, and encounters with Islam and its peoples became for the writer subjects of infinite esthetic recreation.

The talk will begin with The Captive’s Tale, interpolated in the first part of Don Quijote (I, 38-41), which provides a window through which the novel examines the wars between the Spanish and Ottoman Empires, with their reverberations in the Mediterranean and its shores. As a counterpart to the previous tale, the episode of Ricote and its coda, the story of his daughter Ana Félix in the second part of the novel (DQ II, 54, 63 & 65) also emerge by way of the Mediterranean. Symmetrically included in the two parts of Don Quijote, both narratives reveal their aperture to the internal sea, a sizzling melting pot of religions, peoples, and languages. Moreover, both novellas evoke authentic historical events: first, the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and Cervantes’s captivity in Algiers (1575-1580); second, the expulsion of the Moriscos decreed by Philip II in 1609. Beyond the political and religious conflicts played out at the Mediterranean frontiers, Cervantes suggests that these borders were also spaces of cultural encounters.  At sea in the Mediterranean, Cervantes’s characters not only represent diverse encounters with Islam: they also embrace cultural difference and questions of human solidarity.

Bio: MARÍA ANTONIA GARCÉS is Professor of Hispanic Studies at Cornell University. A specialist in Cervantes and early modern Spanish literatures and cultures, her research interests focus on the encounters between the Cross and the Crescent in the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. In 2003, Professor Garcés was awarded the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA) for her book Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive’s Tale (Vanderbilt UP, 2002; rev. ed. 2005), a study of Cervantes’s Algerian captivity (1575-1580) and its effects on his fiction. Her own revised and expanded translation of this book was published in Spain: Cervantes en Argel: historia de un cautivo (Gredos, 2005). Her archival research has produced another major project on the socio-political world of Algiers, with Professor Diana Wilson (translator): An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612) (U. of Notre Dame P, 2011).  Her current work-in-process  brings together the Mediterranean and Cervantes.

Ramzi Rouighi (University of Southern California): "The Medieval Mediterranean in Perspective"

Date: Friday, October 7, 2016

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090

Abstract: Does the notion of Mediterranean improve our understanding of the medieval period? From the perspective of the Maghrib (North Africa), it is not immediately obvious how to answer such a basic question, although the consensus among specialists is that the usefulness of the Mediterranean is beyond doubt. A careful examination of the evolution of the concept of Mediterranean in the historiography of the medieval Maghrib situates the enthusiasm for the category and enables an evaluation of its critical potential, especially in relation to the prevailing rethinking of the Mediterranean that has been ongoing for the last few decades.  

Bio: RAMZI ROUIGHI is a historian of the medieval Maghrib. His first book, entitled The Making of a Mediterranean Emirate, focuses on the politics surrounding the migration of Andalusians to Tunis and its region in the thirteenth century. His current project examines how the Berbers came to be the original inhabitants of North Africa. In addition to these books, his work has explored a number of topics ranging from couscous to rabbits. He teaches football fans and players at the University of Southern California.  

John Friedman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): "Repurposing Classical Myth and Medieval Bestiaries in Harry Potter" (2016-2017 Annual Barbara A. Hanawalt Public Lecture)

Date: Friday, November 18, 2016

Time: 5PM

Location: Sullivant Hall, Room 220 

Abstract: J. K. Rowling's 2001 book, *Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them,* premiering this fall as a wide-release film, shows great linguistic and literary playfulness and learning of a sort which may not always be apparent on casual reading. Rowling studied Classics at the University of Exeter and is also well read in Early Modern, nineteenth-century, and twentieth-century British literature. Her writings display remarkable wit and erudition in introducing, or transforming, beasts grounded in deep literary history. Many of her creatures are drawn from Greek and Roman mythology, from medieval bestiaries and related works, and from popular and Germanic traditions. A much larger proportion, however, including as many as fifty-six of the creatures in *Fantastic Beasts,* do not have any evident roots in any earlier mythology, but seem rather to have been the product of Rowling’s own zoological imagination.

Illustrated by numerous images from medieval and other sources as well as from the films, my talk will focus on the nineteen creatures Rowling introduces in *Fantastic Beasts* and in the first seven Potter novels that have classical and medieval sources, illustrating the ways in which Rowling creatively modified these sources to produce memorable creatures of her own. These creatures belong to three main groups. Some are straightforwardly borrowed from antiquity, including the basilisk, griffin, and sphinx; some derive largely from post-classical animal and plant encyclopedic works, including the dragon, manticore, mandrake, and unicorn; and some are drawn from popular culture, blending at times with late medieval and Early Modern zoology and ethnology, including the werewolf and the giants. An understanding of what Rowling inherited or modified, as opposed to what she created out of whole cloth through her remarkable imagination, deepens our appreciation of Rowling's achievement and places it in an appropriately rich literary and historical context.

Bio: JOHN BLOCK FRIEDMAN is Professor Emeritus of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Visiting Scholar in the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, The Ohio State University. He was a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and was Herbert Johnson Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is the author or editor of a number of books, of which the best known is The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought (Harvard University Press, 1981; Syracuse University Press, 2000). He serves on the Editorial Board of the Chaucer Review. He is also the author of eighty articles and book chapters, most recently “Werewolf Transformation in the Manuscript Era,” The Journal of the Early Book Society;  “Dürer’s Rhinoceros and what he or she was wearing: Carnations, Luxury Gardens, Identity Formation, and Urban Splendor, 1460-1550,” The Journal of Material Culture; and “Coats, Collars, and Capes: Royal Fashions for Animals in the Early Modern Period,” Medieval Clothing and Textiles. His current project is “’Monstrous Men of Fashion’: Striped Costume and Livery in a Danish Church Wall Painting.” He breeds werewolves in his spare time.

***Visitor Parking is available at the Ohio Union South Garage

Eleonora Stoppino (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): "Medieval Ariosto: The Orlando furioso as a Genealogical Text"

Date: Friday, January 20, 2017

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090


Eleonora Stoppino Profile Picture

Abstract: This paper revisits the deep connections between genealogy, gender and the popular epic in Ariosto's Orlando furioso, questioning assumptions about fixed categories such as epic and chivalric poem, medieval and early modern. Starting from the peculiar entrelacement of canto 34, it traces the different forms and functions of textual, fictional and historical genealogy Ariosto at the same time employs and undermines. In the year that marks the 500th anniversary of the first publication of the Furioso, the reflection on genealogy leads to a series of considerations on the state of Ariosto criticism today.

Bio: ELEONORA STOPPINO specializes in the literature and culture of the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, with concentrations on epic and romance, Early Modern travel narratives, Medieval and Renaissance conduct texts, gender studies, and animal studies. She works comparatively across different geographic areas of the Mediterranean, including Italy, Provence, France, Spain, and Catalonia. I have published articles on Boccaccio, Dante, Ariosto, Tasso, the Italian epic tradition, and medieval conduct literature. Her book, Genealogies of Fiction: Women Warriors and the Dynastic Imagination in the Orlando furioso, appeared in 2011 with Fordham University Press, and it is a study of the intersections of epic, gender, and genealogy in Ludovico Ariosto. She is currently working on a book on animals, education and contagion in medieval and early modern literature.

Aden Kumler (University of Chicago): "Pretium Redemptionis: The Price of Redemption, ca. 845"

Date: Friday, February 10, 2017

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090


Aden Kumler Publicity Photo

Abstract: In the Middle Ages, as today, the concept of "price" played a central role in practices of commensuration and exchange. Grounded in worldly economics, notions of price, commerce, and profit also shaped medieval soteriological thought and practice. Focusing on a series of works associated directly or obliquely with the Carolingian ruler, Charles the Bald, this paper examines the trope of the “price of salvation” in the mid-ninth century. Without ignoring textual sources, the talk will focus primarily upon how Carolingian material works and practices framed access to salvation as a mode (or modes) of economic participation, with particular emphasis on how the form of the coin was taken up in the mid-ninth century as a means of grappling with and expressing the incommensurable value of spiritual redemption.

Dennis Britton (University of New Hampshire): "Pity and Difference in Titus Andronicus" (2016-2017 Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association Lecture)

Date: Friday, March 3, 2017

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090


Dennis Britton Publicity Photo

Abstract: In Rhetoric, Aristotle provides a set of conditions for feeling pity: “we pity those who are like us in age, character, disposition, social standing or birth; for in all these cases it appears more likely that the same misfortune may befall us also.” If this is true, pity is an egocentric emotion; pitying another is predicated upon concern for oneself. Pity also seems to require a limited imagination; individuals only pity others who are similar to themselves. This understanding of pity, especially when considered alongside Aristotle’s belief that tragedy is a genre that elicits pity (and fear), suggests that how we feel about others in life and in the theater is intimately linked to how we identify others and ourselves. Aristotle suggests that identifying similarity precedes responding emotionally to the suffering of another, but I wonder in what circumstances might the inverse also be true. Can an emotional response to a spectacle of suffering inspire the finding of similarity where difference was presumed? Alternatively, can pity alter how we identify ourselves?  In this talk I will ask these questions of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, a play in which the words “pity” and “pitiful” often appear, and which contains various types of social difference—gender, racial, and national. I will consider how and why characters come to pity other characters, as well as moments when characters find pitying another impossible. I argue that Titus reveals just how dependent racial, imperial, and nationalist projects are dependent upon the ability to illicit and legislate pity. I also suggest that Titus provides an example of how the emotions produced by Shakespearean tragedy consequently help establish feelings about “others,” and how dramatic genres create parameters for social relations and the construction of racial and national identity

Bio: DENNIS AUSTIN BRITTON is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. His published work primarily examines early modern English encounters with Spaniards, Muslims, and Jews—exploring in particular the connections between race and religion in the formation of national identity. In addition to a variety of journal articles and book chapters, he is the author of Becoming Christian: Race, Reformation, and Early Modern English Romance (Fordham UP, 2014), a study of literary representations of non-Christian to Christianity conversion, emerging ideas of racial difference, and Reformation theology in the works of Spenser, Harington, Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Massinger. He is currently co-editing a collection of essays entitled “Rethinking Shakespearean Source Study: Authors, Audiences, and Digital Technologies” (Routledge, expected 2017) and working on a monograph, “Shakespeare and Pity: Feeling, Social Difference, and Early Modern English Drama.”

Gale Owen-Crocker (The University of Manchester): "The Significance of the Bayeux Tapestry" (2016-2o17 Francis Lee Utley Lecture)

Date: Friday, April 21, 2016.

Time: 4PM

Location: 18th Avenue Library, Room 090


Gale Owen-Crocker Publicity Photo

Abstract: The Bayeux Tapestry is familiar to the general public in Europe and America, but why is it important? This lecture explains its significance as a narrative embroidery – the largest textile artefact surviving from the Middle Ages – discusses the mysteries of its origin, and shows how it was composed and constructed. It considers the historical narrative of the Norman Conquest of England which it depicts; it explains what the Latin inscription tells us and shows how much it leaves out; and explains why the Bayeux Tapestry is the subject of heated argument nearly 1,000 years after its manufacture.Bio: GALE R. OWEN-CROCKER is an Anglo-Saxon specialist who enjoys interdisciplinary research, which uses, for example, archaeological evidence to illuminate Old English literature; and art, archaeology, glosses and text (both Latin and English) to explore the issue of Anglo-Saxon dress. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the international journal Medieval Clothing and Textiles. Her recent books include King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry (2005); Dress in Anglo-Saxon England: revised and enlarged edition (2004), The Four Funerals in Beowulf: and the structure of the poem (2000), Medieval Art: recent perspectives (1998) and Anglo-Saxon Texts and Contexts (1998).

Bio: Gale R. Owen-Crocker is Professor Emerita of The University of Manchester; she was formerly Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture and Director of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies. She has published extensively on the literature and life of the Anglo-Saxon period, and on medieval dress and textiles, especially the Bayeux Tapestry, and has lectured extensively in Europe, North America and Asia. She is co-founder and co-editor of the international journal Medieval Clothing and Textiles and was Director of the Manchester Lexis of Cloth and Clothing Project which produced the database http://lexisproject.arts.manchester.ac.uk/. On the Bayeux Tapestry she has published The Bayeux Tapestry: Collected Papers (2012) and King Harold II and the Bayeux Tapestry (2005) and several more essays. Her other books include Transformation in Anglo-Saxon Culture (2017); The Material Culture of the Built Environment in the Anglo-Saxon World (2015); An Encyclopedia of Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, c.450-1100 (2012); Medieval Dress and Textiles in Britain: A Multilingual Sourcebook (2012); The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World (2011); Working with Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts (2009); Dress in Anglo-Saxon England: revised and enlarged edition (2004); The Four Funerals in Beowulf (2000).