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


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.



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.


November 13, 2015: Annual GEMS Lecture with Prof. Dr. Roland Greene

We are pleased to announce that the 7th Annual GEMS Lecture will be given by Professor Roland Greene (Stanford/MLA); on November 13 (please note: not 12 as announced before) he will talk about “Baroque as Inception: The Dreams of Calderón and Sor Juana”.

The lecture will take place in Room 120.043 (Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, second floor) from 3 pm to 5 pm. After the lecture we will be offering some refreshments.

You are most cordially invited to attend the lecture. Please confirm your attendance by Monday 9 November by sending an e-mail to Katrien De Clercq indicating whether you would like us to provide refreshments afterwards or not.

Invitation GEMS lecture

It is our pleasure to invite you to the next GEMS-lecture that will be given on Friday, 10 October by Prof. Dr. Hans Kellner (North Carolina State University). Prof. Kellner will talk about “Reading and the Practical Past”. The lecture will be take place in Room Mortier (Faculty Library) from 2 to 4 pm.

Prof. Kellner is currently Professor of English at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has published extensively on the subject of rhetoric and historical discourse. His current interests are, amongst others, philosophy of history and historiography, rhetorical and cultural theory and European intellectual history.

We most cordially invite you to attend his lecture. Please confirm your attendance before Friday, 26 September by sending an e-mail to nicolas.vandeviver@ugent.be or sarah.pardon@ugent.be

May 15, 2014: Annual GEMS Lecture with Prof. Kathy Eden

On May 15 Professor Kathy Eden (Columbia University) will hold the sixth GEMS Lecture, entitled “Montaigne’s Acclaim”.

The lecture will start at 5 pm. Location: ‘Grote Vergaderzaal Engels‘, third floor, Blandijn.

Kathy Eden specializes in renaissance humanism, history of rhetoric, hermeneutics, ancient literary theory, and history of classical scholarship. Eden studies the history of rhetorical and poetic theory in antiquity, including late antiquity, and the Renaissance, within the larger context of intellectual history and with an emphasis on the problems of reception. Her books include Poetic and Legal Fiction in The Aristotelian Tradition (1986), Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition: Chapters in the Ancient Legacy and its Humanist Reception (1997), and Friends Hold All Things in Common: Tradition, Intellectual Property and the ‘Adages’ of Erasmus (2001). In her latest book, Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy (2012) she explores the way ancient epistolary theory and practice were understood and imitated in the European Renaissance. Eden draws chiefly upon Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca – but also upon Plato, Demetrius, Quintilian, and many others – to show how the classical genre of the “familiar” letter emerged centuries later in the intimate styles of Petrarch, Erasmus, and Montaigne.

Everyone is invited to attend Professor Eden’s lecture. Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to Britt Grootes.

October 23, 2013: Fifth annual GEMS lecture with Prof. Dr. Timothy Reiss (NYU)

On 23 October Prof. Dr. Timothy Reiss (NYU) will hold the fifth GEMS lecture, entitled “De Bry, Stradanus, Flying Monsters and Globalizing Myths of European Expansion: From the Argonauts to Michelet.” The lecture will take place in room 1.40 (Blandijnberg) from 4 to 6 pm.

Prof. Reiss is professor emeritus of comparative literature at the New York University. He specializes in classical and Renaissance literature, inter-atlantic cultural exchange, philosophy, history, and political theory. He is the author of Toward Dramatic Illusion (1971), Tragedy and Truth. The Discourse of Modernism (1982), The Uncertainty of Analysis (1988), Knowledge, Discovery and Imagination in Early Modern Europe (1997), Against Autonomy: Global Dialectics of Cultural Exchange (2002), and Mirages of the Selfe: Patterns of Personhood in Ancient and Early Modern Europe (2003). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Guggenheim Fellow, ACLS Fellow, was awarded the Canada Council Senior Fellowship twice, and received the Forkosch Prize in Intellectual History for The Meaning of Literature (1992).

Everyone is invited to attend Prof. Reiss’s lecture.

March 17, 2011: Third GEMS Lecture with Frank Ankersmit

On Friday 18 March Frank Ankersmit (University of Groningen), internationally renowned theoretician of history, will be awarded an honorary doctorate at Ghent University. Jürgen Pieters will be promoting Ankersmit’s nomination. On Thursday 17 March Ankersmit is invited to give a lecture at GEMS. More details about the programme and schedule will follow shortly.

May 26, 2010: Second GEMS Lecture with Timothy Hampton

Timothy Hampton is Professor of French and holds the Bernie H. Williams Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He works on Renaissance and early modern European culture, in both English and the Romance languages. His research and teaching involve the relationship between politics and culture, and focus on such issues as the ideology of literary genre, the literary construction of nationhood, and the rhetoric of historiography. He is the author of Writing from History: The Rhetoric of Exemplarity in Renaissance Literature (Cornell UP, 1990), Literature and Nation in the Sixteenth Century: Inventing Renaissance France (Cornell UP, 2001) and Fictions of Embassy: Literature and Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe (Cornell UP, 2009).