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This presentation by Professor Andrew Reynolds (University College London Institute of Archaeology) considers the archaeological, written and toponymic evidence for the emergence of judicial practice in Anglo-Saxon England. Close attention to the physical evidence for legal culture in England between the 7th and 11th centuries reveals new understandings of the subject in chronological and landscape terms. Topics of enquiry include relationships between elites and local societies, the notion of dispersed administrative systems as a robust mode of social organisation and the interplay between custom and law in a society which underwent fundamental changes of religion and complexity over a relatively short period of time.
The nature and properties of angels provided crucial test cases for medieval physics and metaphysics. CMRS Distinguished Visiting Scholar Professor Christopher Martin (Philosophy, University of Auckland) discusses the development of theories of angelic location and motion in the first half of the fourteenth century in response to the rejection of some earlier accounts in the Parisian condemnations of 1277. He is particularly interested in how questions of angelic location and motion were deployed in attempting to understand the fundamental principles of Aristotelian metaphysics. Having indicated the crucial role of angels for medieval metaphysics, Professor Martin concludes by discussing what seems to be very much the most likely source (found in a fourteenth-century text) for the famous slur against it—that it was excessively concerned with how many of them might dance on the head of a pin.
The challenges and innovations that beset European theater from the mid-fifteenth century to the end of the sixteenth century both enriched and imperiled this cultural institution. The renewal of interest in antique forms of theater—tragedies and comedies—accompanied the displacement of passion and saint’s plays, while some of these popular forms were repurposed for political motives. Cross-cultural adaptation and translation flourished; authors increasingly tied their names to texts; productions were steered to elite audiences. Verse plays both humorous and dramatic jostled with the theatrical innovation of commedia dell’arte, which deemphasized written text in favor of set characters and physical improvisation. The social and governmental satires of farce, carnival, and fool’s play often morphed into the Wars of Religion waged onstage, in turn leading to the suppression of authors and performances.
This conference, organized by Dr. Sharon King (CMRS Associate) and Professor Massimo Ciavolella (UCLA), addresses some of the myriad ways theatre was reinvented, restyled, reimagined, and reproduced in communities on the continent and in England during the later Middle Ages and early modern periods. It also explores how these plays are received and perceived today. In conjunction with the conference, the acting troupe Les Enfans Sans Abri performs the anonymous farce The Gallant Who Got Away With It and Marguerite de Navarre’s Stricken.
CMRS Distinguished Visiting Scholar Cynthia Robinson (Professor of Art History and Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University) explores the concept of the feminine [quasi-]divine in Nasrid devotional culture and posits that this phenomenon came into existence in dialogue--not always amicable--with the particularly Castilian incarnation of the Virgin, the result, at least in part, of long centuries of contact with medieval Iberia's Muslim and Jewish communities.
In 1651 a group of Parisian investors created the “Compagnie de la Terre ferme de l’Amérique,” a joint-stock company whose goal was to establish a colony in French Guiana, on the coast of South America. Through the lens of the rise and collapse of the Compagnie de l’Amérique, this paper explores the role of Paris as the capital of the “colonial machine” in seventeenth century France. CMRS Associate Professor Gayle Brunelle (Cal State Fullerton) argues that France’s Paris-based “colonial machine” was highly dysfunctional at least until the era of Colbert due both the lack of institutional structures to construct and manage overseas commercial companies and colonies, and due to the types of people who invested in and directed these companies. This structural “mismatch” goes a long way toward explaining why France struggled to establish viable, let alone profitable, overseas colonies outside the sugar plantations of the West Indies in the seventeenth century.
Organized by the Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies -- contact them for more information.
Mercedes Garcia Arenal (CSIC, Madrid) focuses on the religious history of Iberia and the Muslim West, mainly on religious minorities: conversion, polemics, messianism, religious dissidence, and dissimulation. She has focused on the impulses of assimilation and rejection by mainstream societies of religious minorities such as Muslims and converted Muslims in Iberia and Jews in North Africa. Much of her research is based on Inquisition documentation. There will be commentary by Claire Gilbert (History, St. Louis University).
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. Milton's Latinity is always good to think with, in whatever language he is writing. 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 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) discusses in this lecture.
Marco Polo and Ristichello of Pisa's Description of the World is typically considered alongside other narratives of first contact, like those of John of Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck. Professor Sharon Kinoshita (Literature, UC Santa Cruz, and CMRS Associate) asks how our conception of the text might change if we situated it instead in the company of contemporary French and Franco-Italian prose texts, on the one hand, and Asian geographical and travel narratives, on the other.