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The Center invites faculty and students with an interest in Medieval and Renaissance Studies to attend an open house marking the beginning of the new academic year. Meet the Center’s staff and learn about CMRS programs, awards, and fellowships. Drop by and see us!
The persistent linkage of crippled and royal bodies in the Middle Ages is nowhere more explicit than in the figure of Jacob, the lame patriarch. After his struggle with the angel (Genesis 32) Jacob remains lame, though imagery and commentary vary enormously in the degrees to which they emphasize or ignore his bodily condition. By the late twelfth century, across the thirteenth and into the fourteenth, Jacob is a single figure upon whom boundaries of time and place, the promise of territorial power, national integrity, divine vision and blessing, and a crippled body all converge. In this lecture, Christopher Baswell (Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; Anne Whitney Olin Professor of English, Barnard College) explores the ways these culturally resonant bodies construct intense moments of royalty, power, personal or national integrity, and the work of the sacred.
It is widely thought by Church historians, even experts in medieval canon law, that the early Church disapproved of torture and disallowed it in court proceedings, whether secular or ecclesiastical. They base this view on a statement made by Gratian in his Decretum (ca. 1140), but Gratian here refers only to extrajudicial extortion, as is made clear by the Ordinary Gloss. He most certainly allows and prescribes the use of torture by judges in specific circumstances. His doctrine was inherited by heresy inquisitors and was maintained through the sixteenth century, with a dramatic further twist in good time for Galileo’s trial in 1632. This talk by Henry Ansgar Kelly (Distinguished Research Professor, English, UCLA) will include a demonstration of the UCLA Corpus Juris Canonici website.
John Milton’s double book of 1645, containing a vernacular volume of English poems (plus a handful in Italian) followed by a volume of Latin poemata (plus a couple in Greek), announces and codifies one of the preeminent early modern poetic careers across languages. On a smaller scale, the oeuvre of Milton’s contemporary Andrew Marvell includes a number of Latin and English poems composed in cross-referential pairs. A reading of Marvell’s Hortus alongside his famous Garden, or of Ros alongside Drop of Dew, rather than getting bogged down in questions of priority between the two versions, can find an active sense of mutuality between them, and a point of access to some broader questions about poetic bilingualism, as will be discussed by CMRS Distinguished Visiting Scholar Stephen Hinds (Professor of Classics, Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities University of Washington, Seattle). Stephen Hinds is interested in moments of connection between Latin and vernacular texts which approach the condition of translation without quite being the same thing as translation. His larger project explores not just individual poems but the classical tradition itself as process rather than as product, involving micro-negotiations of authors and readers across language and culture.
Throughout its long history, conscience has perched precariously at the boundaries of the self. Does it originate outside the mind as a God-given entity or reside within as a unique faculty and defining personal trait? In the sixteenth century it decisively swerved within, as an aspect of distinctive selfhood. Yet, at the very moment of its decisive relocation and apparent triumph, the personal conscience found itself under siege: overburdened and underequipped for its new and formidable responsibilities. This lecture by CMRS Distinguished Visiting Scholar Paul Strohm (Emeritus, Anna S. Garbedian Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University) will touch on More, Calvin, and Foxe as well as plays and religious pamphlets, in considering the vicissitudes of sixteenth-century conscience.