Cervantes’ Hermetic Architectures – a lecture by Frederick de Armas (University of Chicago)

Date: Friday, 13 October 2017
Time: 2.30 pm
Location: Auditorium 1 Jan Broeckx (previously Auditorium A) at the Blandijn, campus Boekentoren, Ghent university

Cervantes’ Hermetic Architectures

Frederick A. de Armas
University of Chicago

Cervantes’ novels are peopled with characters constantly on the move, always going from here to there, pursuing amorous, spiritual, picaresque or chivalric quests. Since these figures often move outside cities, the architectures of Cervantes’ novels are few. As such they call attention to themselves and we may inquire as to their presence and function. While the Inn is one of the most prevalent architectures, it is a hybrid one, combining inside and outside. I am more interested in the home, villa, castle or church in order to see if indeed they abide by the concepts of place and space as delineated Yi-Fu Tuan: “Place is security space is freedom; we are attached to the one and long for the other.” Thus, the architectures in the novel should be equated with security. Can these places guard from the danger outside? Or do these hermetic sites wall-in certain dangers? Can some of these spaces evoke Hermes through the Corpus Hermeticum, thus concealing hermetic mysteries? As a first step in this analysis I will look at a sample of hermetic architectures in Don Quijote, Novelas ejemplares, and Persiles y Sigismunda.

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Workshop with Professor Roland Greene on September 1st

We are pleased to announce a special workshop with Professor Roland Greene (Stanford, English Department) on Friday, September 1st. Professor Greene will be our guest on that day for an informal meeting with PhD students and other researchers to talk about ‘How Poetry Remakes the World: Elegy and Epithalamion in Renaissance Poetics’.

In the era of early modern humanism, classical lyric genres such as elegy and epithalamion not only follow received uses but become newly scripted as a negotiation between past and present. Concentrating on these two representative genres, this workshop is an experiment in a revived genre criticism that seeks to recover, in terms of indigenous to the period, how early modern poets and audiences conceived these and other genres at work in their world.

After a short introduction by Professor Greene we will have a discussion about the above mentioned issues. In advance we will read an article of Professor Greene about the early modern elegy and literature as a negation between past and present. Participants also are invited to shortly present their own research projects and questions they are currently dealing with in the second part of the workshop.

The workshop will take place on Friday, September 1st, 2-4 PM in the meeting room 110.060 (Blandijnberg, 1st Floor). You are most cordially invited to attend the workshop. Please confirm your attendance as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to Cornelis.vanderHaven@UGent.be .

Roland Greene is an expert on the early modern literatures of England, Latin Europe and the Trans-Atlantic world. His research pays particular attention to the history of poetry and poetics from the Renaissance to the present day. This year he serves as the president of the Modern Language Association. His theme for the 2016 Annual Convention is “Literature and its Publics: Past, Present, and Future”. His most recent book is Five Words: Critical Semantics in the Age of Shakespeare and Cervantes (Chicago, 2013). Five Words proposes an understanding of early modern culture through the changes embodied in five words or concepts over the sixteenth century: in English, bloodinvention language resistance, and world, and their counterparts in French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. In the seminar he will be discussing this book next to the history and theory of the poetry of the Americas. The seminar is open to all PhD student

Out now: The hurt(ful) body: Performing and beholding pain, 1600-1800

A few years ago, GEMS was one of the co-organisers of the conference ‘The Hurt(ful) Body before Diderot: Pain and Suffering in Early Modern Performance and the Visual Arts (c. 1600-1790)‘. A volume based on this conference appeared last week at Manchester University Press, edited by Tomas Macsotay, Karel Vanhaesebrouck and Cornelis van der Haven. This book offers a cross-disciplinary approach to pain and suffering in the early modern period, based on research in the fields of literary studies, art history, theatre studies, cultural history and the study of emotions. It has a sustained focus on visual sources, textual material and documents about actual events rather than well-known thinkers or ‘masterpieces’ of art history, and a preference for cases and historical contexts over systematic theory-building.

The hurt(ful) body brings under discussion visual and performative representations of embodied pain, using an insistently dialectical approach that takes into account the perspective of the hurt body itself, the power and afflictions of its beholder and, finally, the routinising and redeeming of hurt within institutional contexts. The volume’s two-fold approach of the hurt body, defining ‘hurt’ both from the perspective of the victim and the beholder (as well as their combined creation of a gaze), is unique. It establishes a double perspective about the riddle of ‘cruel’ viewing by tracking the shifting cultural meanings of victims’ bodies, and confronting them to the values of audiences, religious and popular institutional settings, and practices of punishment. It encompasses both the victim’s presence as an image or performed event of pain and the conundrum of the look – the transmitted ‘pain’ experienced by the watching audience. This will be done through three rubrics: the early modern performing body, beholder or audience responses, and the operations of institutional power.

Because of its interdisciplinary approach of the history of pain and the hurt(ful) body, the book will be of interest for Lecturers and students from different fields, like the history of ideas, the history of the body, urban history, theatre studies, literary studies, art history, emotion studies and performance studies

With contributions by Christian Biet, Jonathan Sawday, Javier Moscoso and others.

See also the Q&A with the editors

GEMS in portraits: Jonathan Regier

MC_KeplerThis spring, GEMS was more than happy to welcome Jonathan Regier as a new member. We seized the opportunity to ask him who inspires him and what drives him in his research. Jonathan did his PhD in history and philosophy of science at Université Paris Diderot, with a thesis titled Cause in Kepler’s Natural Philosophy. Afterwards, he joined Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a post-doctoral fellow at their Institute for Advanced Study. In early 2017, he came to UGent with a BOF fellowship. He will begin an FWO fellowship in October 2017 at UGent, in the department of philosophy and moral sciences. His academic interests revolve around the mathematisation of natural philosophy in the sixteenth century.

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GEMS Seminar 7 June: Kornee van der Haven inspired by… Alan Sinfield

Wednesday, June 7th, 2-4 PM. Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room ‘Freddy Mortier’

Inspired by cultural materialism and Marxist literary critique, the Shakespeare scholar Alain Sinfield has developed (together with his partner in crime Jonathan Dollimore) a theory of ‘dissident reading’ (or reading dissidence) in the course of the 1980-ies and 90-ies, with works like Political Shakespeare (1985) and Faultlines (1992). Especially in this last book he develops a reading strategy that allows him to detect ‘dissident potential’ in early modern literary texts by pointing to moments of conflict and contradiction that are produced within the social order as represented in a literary work. A lot of Sinfield’s later work deals with power structures in the work of Shakespeare in relation to gender and sexuality, like in his last book of 2006, with the revealing subtitle ‘unfinished business of cultural materialism’.

During this GEMS seminar Kornee van der Haven will reflect on some of Sinfield’s main concepts and reading strategies. By way of discussing some examples from his own research about early modern Dutch literature, he will also illustrate how Sinfield’s theory and methodology could provide an inspiring approach for scholars outside the specialized field of Shakespeare studies.

For literary scholars and for early modernists in particular, but also for (cultural) historians with an interest in discourse and textual analysis.

Registration is not required for GEMS-members. Non-members who wish to attend can sign-up with Kornee van der Haven: cornelis.vanderhaven@ugent.be. For this seminar we will read some chapters from Faultlines (1993) and Shakespeare, Authority, Sexuality (2006)

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GEMS SEMINARS

The GEMS Seminars provide the opportunity to members of our research group and other scholars with an interest in the early modern period to meet and discuss current research issues. There are categories of these meetings (see schedule on https://gemsugent.wordpress.com/category/seminars/). First there are the Ateliers during which GEMS-members or guests present their research projects, recent publications or ideas for future projects. Who is interested to spotlight his or her current or future research projects during one of these meetings are cordially invited to get in contact with the organization (cornelis.vanderhaven@ugent.be). Secondly we will have three meetings this academic year with specialists of the early modern period who will introduce to you the work of a famous scholar by whom they are inspired in their own scholarly work. The work of at least three important thinkers will be at the fore in the following sessions of Inspired by…: Michel de Certeau (by Prof. Steven Vanden Broecke on December 14th, 2016), Natalie Zemon Davis (by Prof. Alexander Roose on March 15th, 2017) and Alan Sinfield (by Prof. Kornee van der Haven on June 7th, 2017).

Lecture Prof. em. Marinus Burcht Pranger

Lecture Prof. em. Marinus Burcht Pranger (University of Amsterdam): Inside Augustine

Date: Wednesday May 17, 3-5pm

Location: Faculty Room, Blandijn

We are very pleased to announce that Prof. em. Marinus Burcht Pranger (University of Amsterdam) will visit our faculty as part of a workshop, organized by the Latin section, the Henri Pirenne Institute and GEMS. On Wednesday May 17, he will give a public lecture on the notions of ‘absorption’ and ‘theatricality’ in the Confessiones by Augustine. He will read this text in interaction with Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot and Inspector Morse. Below, you can find a short biography and an abstract.

The lecture (in English) will take place from 15.00 to 17.00 in the Faculty Room (‘Faculteitszaal Blandijn’) at the first floor. Afterwards, there will be a reception.

You are most cordially invited to attend the lecture. We hope to see you then.

Tim Noens and Wim Verbaal

Biography

M.B. Pranger is Professor emeritus at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. He is an authority in Christian literature of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. His most well-known works are Bernard of Clairvaux and the Shape of Monastic Thought (Brill, 1994), The Artificiality of Christianity (Stanford, 2003) and Eternity’s Ennui (Brill, 2010). In his research, he continuously places early Christian literature into a dialogue with works from divergent historical periods: he jumps from Anselmus to Samuel Beckett, from Henry James to Augustine, from Gerard Reve to Bernardus of Clairvaux, etc. Using such a broad perspective, he succeeds at offering innovative insights and challenging conventions, assumptions and interpretations which have (too easily?) been taken for granted in scholarship.

Abstract

INSIDE AUGUSTINE

This paper proposes a reading of Augustine’s Confessions with the assistance of the notions of absorption and theatricality. The very use of those notions is meant to counterbalance the readings generated by our over-familiarity with Augustinian interiority. By replacing interiority with a concept that is alien to the Augustinian vocabulary, it becomes possible to block facile access to mystical interpretations of the Confessions on the one hand, and to embark upon the (admittedly challenging) task of reassessing the nature of “confessing” on the other. This new reading brings to the surface a number of aporias in approaching a confessor who is fully involved in his act of sustained confessing. A comparison is also made with the notion of absorption in the visual arts. Just as spectatordom becomes problematic vis-à-vis a painting whose personae look inward rather than outward, so too the position of the reader vis-à-vis a text whose confessing creator uninterruptedly addresses his Confessee demands a redefinition of the reader’s role and place in the process.

Lecture Alexander Winkler 24 May 2017

We are pleased to announce a special lecture of our GEMS-Guest Alexander Winkler (University of Bonn, Germany), who will be a guest researcher at the Literature Department (Italian literature) in the coming weeks. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, May 24th, 10-11 AM, in the Faculty Library (Magnel-wing), room ‘Freddy Mortier’. Alexander Winkler will speak about Neo-Latin tobacco literature of the 16th century

A smoky journey through Neo-Latin tobacco literature

When the tobacco plant first arrived in Europe in the 16th century, it was praised for its beneficial properties. Doctors and pharmacologists carefully described its curative effects and uses. Soon, however, tobacco became a social phenomenon, consumed and valued not primarily for medical reasons. This habit was heavily criticised by some and vehemently defended by others all over Europe and in almost any language. Neo-Latin literature can boast of some of the most ingenious contributions to this debate. In my talk, I am going to provide a general survey of these texts and present two of the most ambitious literary works in greater detail.

Alexander Winkler is research assistant for Medieval and Neo-Latin Philology at the University of Bonn. Previously, he was research assistant at the department for Romance Languages and Literatures. He holds an MA in Classics and Italian from the University of Munich as well as an MA in the Culture of the European Renaissance from the University of Warwick, and is currently working on a PhD thesis on the Italian 16th century humanist Pietro Angeli da Barga.

 

Seminar (Atelier) May 17th – Jetze Touber and Tim Vergeer

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017, 1-3 PM. Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room “Freddy Mortier”

Jetze Touber – Body stones in early modern culture

In this presentation I will discuss my research project on the early modern perception of stones growing inside the human body: the kidneys, bladder and gall bladder. The project investigates how such body stones were marked as divine or natural, organic or inorganic, meaningful or senseless objects between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth centuries, a period of profound changes both in medicine, natural philosophy, and religion.

Tim Vergeer – Passion without restraint: Emotions in Hispano-Dutch theatre in the seventeenth century

In the seventeenth century, Spanish imported theatre was especially popular. The question is why? Unlike plays by the established playwrights Vondel, Hooft and Bredero, the Spanish repertoire was interspersed with turbulent emotions, or so-called ‘woelingen’. Spanish plays meant a refuge from an emotional repressive regime: the neo-stoic philosophy of Justus Lipsius and his students.

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GEMS-members do not need to register for this meeting. Colleagues with an interest in the early modern period who are not a member of GEMS can join us too (after a short notice to: cornelis.vanderhaven@ugent.be, because of the limited space in the reserved rooms).

Seminar (Atelier) April 19th – Youri Desplenter and Thomas Van der Goten

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, 2-4 PM. Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy, Magnel-wing, Room “Freddy Mortier”

Youri Desplenter – Dutch Bible Translations in the Manuscript Era: Provenance and Structures of Dissemination

From the Middle Dutch manuscripts with bible translations, we learn that these texts were not just translated ‘somewhere’, and then distributed and copied. Almost every single time such a translation was ‘copied’, it was revised, often to such an extent that it becomes unclear if we have to consider the new ‘copy’ as a textual witness of the old version, or as a new translation. To understand this way of handing down Middle Dutch bible translations, we need to have insight into the dynamics which influenced these texts. In this presentation, I will try to establish which were the centers where biblical texts were translated, when these were active, and who in other words determined who used which translation. As these centers have been coming to the surface only recently, the overall patterns – unlike those of printed bible translations – have not been clear until now.

 Thomas Van der Goten – A Revisionist, Genre-Theoretical and Historical Study of the British Ode in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680-1830

In his presentation, Thomas will explore some of the outcomes of his current research project, which aims to produce a revisionist, genre-theoretical study of the British ode in the eighteenth century. Promoting an inclusive, quantitative as well as qualitative examination of canonical and non-canonical odes, the project seeks to offer a nuanced account of the range and variety of the genre, its engagement with literary tradition, and its place in the proliferating market for printed poetry.

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GEMS-members do not need to register for this meeting. Colleagues with an interest in the early modern period who are not a member of GEMS can join us too (after a short notice to: cornelis.vanderhaven@ugent.be, because of the limited space in the reserved rooms).