What was personhood?

Lecture by Kevin Curran (University of Lausanne)

Date: 23 October 2019,  5 – 6:30 pm

Place: Faculty of Arts and Philosophy (Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent), room 120.083

Guest lecture organized by the NARMESH research project in collaboration with prof. Andrew Bricker (UGent).

Curran flyer

 

Abstract: What did it mean to be a “person” in Renaissance England? We know there was a basic legal conception of personhood available at least since Magna Carta (1215), a baseline guarantee that no free man could be harmed save in accordance with the law of the land. The idea was, and still is, that humans possess some fundamental degree of liberty and that communities work better when that liberty is protected. But personhood does not simply enshrine liberty. More precisely, it instrumentalizes it through basic legal transactions such as litigation, property transfer, and contract. It also balances it off with a set of responsibilities and obligations. This means that personhood is never just about the individual subject and their freedom. Instead, personhood denotes a relationship to one’s lived environment; a form of liberty that only makes sense in a transactional context. Personhood describes an interface between self and world and provides scripts of consent, entitlement, and responsibility for managing that interface. With these insights in mind, this talk aims to recover the way in which Renaissance personhood was shaped by ideas about the material world, both human and nonhuman. It offers a reminder that one of the core legal fictions of liberal modernity, a legal fiction that we now tend to associate with Enlightenment notions of agency, subjectivity, and individuality, has other sources in the physical experiences, creaturely lives, and material encounters of the Renaissance.

Bio: Kevin Curran is Professor of Early Modern Literature at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and editor of the book series “Edinburgh Critical Studies in Shakespeare and Philosophy.” He is the author of Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court (Ashgate, 2009). He is the editor of Shakespeare and Judgment (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) and Renaissance Personhood: Materiality, Taxonomy, Process (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming Dec. 2019), and co-editor of a special issue of the journal Criticism on “Shakespeare and Phenomenology” (2012). In 2017, Curran was named Distinguished International Visiting Fellow at the Center for the History Of Emotions in Australia. He is also the founder and Director of the Lausanne Shakespeare Festival.

Contacts: NARMESH

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‘The Country-Round’: Dance, Theater, and the Emergence of England’s Political Parties.

Lecture by prof. Seth Stewart Williams (Columbia University).

Date: Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 4-5 PM. 
Location: Plateau-room, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, Ghent

 

De buitenpartij

This talk explores how politicized choreographic material from seventeenth-century masques and plays circulated beyond courts and theaters in manuscript verse miscellanies and printed music. It argues that as the textual ephemera of theater culture reached rural communities, where it was reanimated in household performances, it cultivated sensorial political affiliations during the very decades when England’s factions crystallized into its first political parties.
 
Seth Stewart Williams is assistant professor in the Department of Dance at Barnard College of Columbia University, and affiliate faculty of the Barnard English Department and the Columbia PhD Program in Theatre and Performance. His research focuses on the interrelation of dance and literature, especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He was a 2019 Scholar-in-Residence at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and is at present a Long-Term Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library. He received his PhD in English literature from Columbia in 2017. In an earlier performance career, he appeared with the dance companies of Seán Curran, Donald McKayle, Mark Morris, and with the New York Baroque Dance Company.

This lecture is organised by THALIA (Interplay of Theatre, Literature & Media in Performance), Literary Studies Department (English) and GEMS (Group for Early Modern Studies)

Illustration: David Vinckboons, De buitenpartij (ca. 1610). Holding Institution: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

GEMS Lecture 2019 with Professor Hiro Hirai (Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Radboud University, Netherlands)

Galen in the Medical Context of the Scientific Revolution

Date: Monday, 29 April 2019
Time: 4 – 6 PM
Location: Plateauzaal (Jozef Plateaustraat 22, Gent)

Galen (129–ca. 216) left a significant number of writings, over 100 treatises in a modern edition, which represent some 12 percent of ancient Greek literature. Although Galenism dominated the tradition of Western medicine, knowledge of his writings was relatively limited during the Middle Ages. The substantial body of these writings was made available in Europe thanks to the Aldine Greek edition (Venice, 1525), followed by a flood of Latin translations. In my paper, I will examine the impact of some key texts of Galen at the threshold of early modern science and philosophy. To this end I will focus on the particular use of Galen’s writings and teachings by Jean Fernel (1497–1558) of Paris, one of the most influential physicians of the Renaissance, and other physician-philosophers who were his contemporaries and followers in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

 

Image references:
1. Nicolas de Larmessin, Portrait of Jean François Fernel. Engraving. Holding Institution: Smithsonian Libraries (Washington, DC);
2. Title page of Galen’s Aldine Greek edition (Venice 1525).

Bernd Roling (Freie Universität, Berlin), “Return From the Dead: The Raising of Lazarus in Early Modern Biblical Commentaries and Natural Philosophy”

Public lecture

Time: 22 November 2018, h. 16:30

Location: KANTL (Koningstraat 18, Ghent)

Roling poster

The lecture will be the keynote of the international conference “Coordinating the two books“.

Image reference: Mattia Preti, The raising of Lazarus, 1650s. Oil on canvas. Holding institution: Galleria Nazionale di Arte Antica, Rome.

GEMS Lecture 2018 with Professor Craig Martin (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice)

Astrological Debates in Italian Renaissance Commentaries on Aristotle’s Meteorology

Date: Friday, 5 October 2018
Time: 4 PM
Location: Room 100.072 Blandijnberg 2, Gent

Astrologia, Giulio Bonasone, naar Rafaël, 1544From the time of Albertus Magnus, medieval commentators on Aristotle regularly used a passage from Meteorology 1.2 as evidence that the stars and planets influence and even govern terrestrial events. Many of these commentators integrated their readings of this work with the view that planetary conjunctions were causes of significant changes in human affairs. By the end of the sixteenth century, Italian Aristotelian commentators and astrologers alike deemed this passage as authoritative for the integration of astrology with natural philosophy. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, however, criticized this reading, contending that Aristotle never used the science of the stars to explain meteorological phenomena. While some Italian commentators, such as Pietro Pomponazzi dismissed Pico’s contentions, by the middle of the sixteenth century many reevaluated the medieval integration. This reevaluation culminated in Cesare Cremonini, who put forth an extensive critique of astrology in which he argued against the idea of occult causation and celestial influence, as he tried to rid Aristotelianism of its medieval legacy.

Admission to this public lecture is free, but pre-registration is recommended for anyone who is not a member of GEMS – please send a message to: gems_ugent@yahoo.com

Image: Astrologia (1544) by Giulio Bonasone after Raphael. Courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

 

CANCELLED – Lecture Michael Moriarty – Pascal, Diversion, and the Quest for Happiness

Unfortunately, the lecture by Michael Moriarty has been cancelled.

moriarty

Michael Moriarty is Drapers Professor of French at the University of Cambridge, professorial fellow of Peterhouse. He works chiefly on the literature and thought of the early modern period. His publications include a book on Roland Barthes (Cambridge: Politiy, 1992), Taste and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, reprinted 2009Early Modern French Thought: The Age of Suspicion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Fallen Nature, Fallen Selves: Early Modern French Thought II (OUP, 2006), and Disguised Vices: Theories of Virtue in Early Modern French Thought (OUP, 2011). He has also translated Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008). He was formerly Centenary Professor of French Literature and Thought at Queen Mary, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

The Fame: Performance Art and Celebrity Culture. Lecture by Philip Auslander on May 16th

Because the number of seats is limited, we ask people who want to attend the lecture to register on the following email address: gems_ugent@yahoo.com.

GEMS, THALIA and the Doctoral School of Arts will be organizing a lecture with professor Dr. Philip Auslander, a renowned scholar in the field of media and performance studies. He will discuss performance art and its interconnection with the current surge of celebrity culture. Recent years have seen the incursion of the culture of celebrity into performance art, both in the sense that celebrities from other fields such as music and film are undertaking performance works, and in the sense that performance art has become a platform for the development of a celebrity identity, as in the case of Serbian artist Marina Abramović. In his lecture, professor Auslander will discuss the role of museums in promulgating celebrity and the antagonism toward them from art critics, as well as the structural similarities between the respective relationships between celebrities and their public, and performance artists and their audiences. These similarities can be organized around concepts of representation, originality and narrative, among others.

The lecture will take place on Wednesday 16th of May 2018 at 7pm.

Jozef Plateauzaal, entrance Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Ghent.

BIOGRAPHY

Professor Dr. Philip Auslander teaches at the school of Literature, Media and Communication Georgia Institute of Technology where he has been a professor since 1999. In the last decennia, he has published extensively in the field of performance studies, including two of his most influential books Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music (2006) and Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (2008). Currently he is preparing a new book that will be published in 2018 Reactivations: Essays on Performance and its Documentation.

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.

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.