GEMS in portraits: Teodoro Katinis

Head_Odysseus_MAR_Sperlonga

In our March issue we sketch a portrait of our newest GEMS-member Teodoro Katinis. Teodoro holds a PhD in Italian (Johns Hopkins University) and philosophy (Università degli Studi Roma Tre), and is now a research professor of Italian Literature at Ghent University, where he aims to study vernacular medical texts of the 16th and 17th centuries. Teodoro has widely published on Renaissance culture and philosophy, the early modern dialogue, medical history and literature. He published his first monograph Medicina e filosofia in Marsilio Ficino: il Consilio contro la pestilentia in 2007 and is currently finishing a second book on the rebirth of sophistry in the Italian Renaissance.

 

How did your interest for medical history and philosophy arise?

Although medicine is a recurring theme in my research, I would not be able to do the job of a physician or an exact scientist. Much more, my fascination concerns the relation between medicine, arts and language. I am interested in the human psyche and body, and more specifically in how they are represented in and go together with visual or expressive arts and philosophy. I was surprised to learn that my PhD research on medicine and philosophy in Marsilio Ficino’s work was one of the first studies on this humanist that combined the history of medicine, Italian literature and philosophy. Ficino’s advice against the plague (1481) is interesting not only from a philosophical-historical perspective. It is also important from a socio-historical perspective, because it was one of the first books printed in vernacular, thus attracting all social strata. My first monograph was a modern edition of this advice with an extensive introduction on the text (style and content) and its sources. I hope to publish an English revision in the future, and to dig deeper into the rhetoric that guaranteed this wide dissemination of medical knowledge.

Do you consider your research in general as interdisciplinary?

There is, of course, no fixed methodology (whatever works), yet my experience shows that interdisciplinary research is both productive and instructive. During my PhD research, I found myself working at the crossroads of philology, philosophy, (art) history, medical history of epidemics and even anthropology. However, I never asked myself which discipline my work was ‘most’ entitled to and this proved to be a fruitful way of doing research. Not only did I learn much about diverse academic fields, I also noticed that my monograph reached a broad audience of history scholars, scholars of medical history, Renaissance studies, philosophy, et cetera. I believe academics should always try to write for ‘everyone’ (as far as this is possible).

Have you ever experienced a ‘eureka moment’ during your research?

Absolutely! At John Hopkins University, I worked on the Renaissance dialogue (a very popular topic in the United States) and read Apologia dei dialoghi by Sperone Speroni (1500-1588), looking for a theory of dialogue. What I found instead, was a discussion about ancient sophists and their perspectives. That led me to explore further in this direction and to discover two of the most amazing texts I have ever read: Speroni’s In difesa dei sofisti (In Defense of Sophists) and Contra Socrate (Against Socrates). And that is when I cried ‘eureka’: Speroni was on the exact same line as Plato (4th century BC) and Nietzsche (1844-1900)! Speroni’s dialogues are an explicit rehabilitation of the platonic dialogues on the one hand, and, at the same time, reading Speroni is like ‘reading Nietzsche before Nietzsche’. Speroni’s attack on Socrates’ philosophy is the most striking part of my discovery. Scholars invariably believed that before Nietzsche no one had been brave enough to look at the points where Socrates might have been wrong. Now it seems that Speroni’s critique precedes Nietzsche’s and stands as the most explicit attempt to rehabilitate the ancient sophists since Antiquity.

What is the most inspiring (literary) study you have ever read? And the most recent one?

Cesare Pavese’s Dialoghi con Leucò (1947) is the most original and inspiring book I have ever read. The book is a reworking of Greek and sometimes Roman mythology, written in a personal way, but based on profound scholarly knowledge of the subject. It consists of very short enigmatic dialogues between mythological figures. Dialoghi con Leucò touches upon several aspects of life, such as aggressiveness, eros, pain, motherhood (also Freudian), the divine, morality, and so on. Pavese’s presentation and interpretation of classical myths becomes an essential tool to understand ourselves and society today. If I will ever write an unscholarly book, Pavese’s work will be my model.

More recently, I read Eric MacPhail’s The Sophistic Renaissance (Genève 2011), a study on the rebirth of sophistry in early modern Latin and French literature. I liked this study very much for two reasons. Firstly, it is the only book completely dedicated to this subject. It has become a standard work with good reason. Secondly, and strangely enough, the book was inspiring for its lack of vernacular Italian sophistic literature of the Renaissance. I now hope my own research could somehow complete Eric’s work. He is still working on the subject, and it is nice to have an interlocutor with whom I keep in touch. I invited him as a keynote speaker for the conference The Sophistic Renaissance: Authors, Texts, Interpretations that I organised in Venice (September 26, 2015), for instance. That conference also attracted Master students. With one of them I have just submitted an FWO-proposal, hoping to open a new path of research in this field.

About the image:
One of the characters in Cesare Pavese’s Dialoghi con Leucò (1947) is Odysseus. Teodoro Katinis attests that the mythical figure Odysseus somehow reflects several aspects of his research and personal life, including travelling, both intellectually and materially. This is a statue from the villa of Tiberius at Sperlonga, Italy (Museo Archeologico Nazionale).

By Sarah Adams

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).

CFP: Literature without Frontiers?

Next year (9-10 February, 2018) a conference will be organised at Ghent University  about perspectives for a transnational literary history of the Low Countries. This conference – Literature without Frontiers? – aims to bring together a number of telling examples that advocate a transnational perspective for the construction and writing of the literary history (histories?) of the Low Countries in the period 1200-1800. We invite scholars of the periods involved to address case studies (authors, texts, translations, mechanisms of textual production, motifs, tropes, genres) that on account of their ‘transnational’ character have fallen outside the scope of the current attempts of literary historiography.

Traditional literary historiography is rooted in the nineteenth-century construction of national literatures based on the political desire to demarcate national states and their corresponding linguistic identities from each other. For the study of the literature that predates the nineteenth-century nation-state the taxonomy of literary phenomena on the basis of geographical frontiers that were in most cases non-existent at the time, is a highly artificial though very common practice. The organizers of the conference Literature without Frontiers? believe that the study of literature in this long period is better served by a transnational perspective, if only because of the transnational character of its functioning. On account of their limiting focus, nationally oriented literary histories of the periods in question cannot but undervalue the actual cultural processes at work both in the international ‘Republic of Letters’ as well as in the language regions that exceed the borders of the current nation states.

Keynote speakers: Frans Blom (University of Amsterdam) and David Wallace (University of Pennsylvania)

Proposals for a thirty-minute presentation are expected by June 1st, 2017. For more details, see the CFP Literature without Frontiers.

GEMS Seminar: Alexander Roose inspired by… Natalie Zemon Davis

Wednesday March 15th, 2017, 14-16h. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, J. Plateaustraat 22. Meeting room ‘Simon Stevin’.

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 The Return of Martin Guerre (if you would like to receive scans of the book, please contact Kornee).

Natalie Zemon Davis is a major Renaissance scholar and her book Return of Martin Guerre is an extraordinary reconstruction of an imposture in a sixteenth-century French village. Her essay epitomizes the micro-historical approach, but is also an analysis of the social conditions that produced this a bizarre affair.

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).

Foucault seminar

foucault5Coming June, Ghent University doctoral schools will offer the seminar Practicing Foucault : truth, conduct and politics. It is intended for PhD students in the humanities (history, literary studies, philosophy) whose research can benefit from an encounter with the work of Michel Foucault.

The seminar’s format combines masterclasses of external speakers with presentations by PhD students and discussions of Foucault’s lectures. Lecturers are Maarten Van Dyck (Ghent University), Steven Vanden Broecke (Ghent University), Jean-Lucien Sanchez (CNRS), Florence Hulak (Université Paris 8), and Luca Paltrinieri (Université de Rennes).

The language of the course will be bilingual English / French. The maximum number of participants is 20. The exact dates of the seminar are June 22, 29 and 30, 2017. 

For more information, click here. For registration, please contact Egon Bauwelinck.

Workshop Techniques of Theatre and: Theatre as a Technique

zeising_water-pump

On March 22nd, 2017 THALIA, GEMS, and the research group ITEMP organise the workshop  ‘Techniques of Theatre and: Theatre as a Technique’. It is intended for pre-docs, PhD’s and post-docs, especially in the field of theatre studies and theatre history.

The full-day programme consists of two parts. During the morning session we will focus on methodological issues brought forth by theatrical case studies. How to interpret primary sources and how to deal with lacunas in our research about theatre and/or theatrical events in history? The afternoon session will concentrate on theatre as a technique for knowledge production. Which techniques are used by the theatre to engender insight, from early modernity until the present? The entire programme can be consulted here: workshop-techniques-of-theatre-and-theatre-as-a-technique.

The teachers are Jan Lazardzig (UvA, Netherlands), Kurt Vanhoutte (University of Antwerp) and Karel Vanhaesebrouck (VUB/ULB/RITCS, Brussels). The workshop will take place in the ‘Library Lab’ of the Faculty Library Arts & Philosophy at Ghent University. Registration is still open, interested researchers can contact Yannice De Bruyn (Yannice.DeBruyn@ugent.be) for more information.