LAMAR Seminar Fall 2016

Published: August 16, 2016
Chaucer Astrolabe, 1326; British Museum.

CMRS sponsors the Fall 2016 Late Antique, Medieval, and Renaissance (LAMAR) Seminar which is being taught this quarter by Professor Christine Chism and listed as English 244 with the generic name “Old and Middle English Literature.”

This seminar, “Knowledge and Transculturation in the Premodern World,” explores transculturations of knowledge in the late antique, medieval, and early modern periods, when systems of knowledge were configured and transmitted very differently.  What happens when Greek philosophical figures such as Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus, are synthesized within Islamic and Christian cultures? How do theoretical, practical, and esoteric modes of science alter when transmitted between Asian, Mediterranean, and western practitioners and how do their stakes change?  How do medieval and early modern epistemologies change in response to strange knowledge, and how do these knowledges become naturalized? How do forms of encyclopedism and archivism develop across the medieval Islamic and Christian worlds for organizing knowledge. Taught as a LAMAR seminar, this interdisciplinary course will feature guest speakers from within and outside of UCLA. Focuses can range from technologies of writing and interpretation, through astronomy, astrology, visual arts, geography, and philosophy, depending on the interests of the participants, who will use the seminar to work towards a larger project or two shorter ones.

Texts may include: Aristotle, Lucretius, The Book of the Apple, excerpts from Roger Bacon’s Opus Maius, Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, Albertus Magnus, Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale, and Treatise on the Astrolabe, the “Tawaddud, the scholarly slave girl,” and its transmigrations to Spain in  “La doncella Teodor” and to the New World in the Mayan community books. Secondary texts and theoretical approaches may include Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things and The Archaeology of Knowledge, Frank Kermode’s The Genesis of Secrecy, Karin Knorr Cetina’s Epistemic Cultures, Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern, Valerie Flint’s The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe, and Turner’s Science in Medieval Islam.

Requirements: 1 seminar project paper (with short prospectus, bibliography, and first draft) or two conference length papers 10-12 pp; weekly response papers; 1 class presentation; active class discussion.