Category Archives: Medieval Culture

New Chaucer Life Record

Prof. Sobecki’s discovery of a new document shedding light on Chaucer’s life has recently been covered by The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/07/document-casts-new-light-on-chaucer-rape-case

The full article in English Literary History can be found at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/726186 which members of the university can access through their library account.

Chaucer is not the only medieval writer associated with controversy about raptus (rape, abduction). Thomas Malory may have imprisoned for rape. Rape and abduction (there’s a big difference as the latter could have been consensual or may not have involved sexual assault) remained difficult to distinguish in written records at least until the eighteenth century.

Chaucer – Shakespeare – Dickens

BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week was called ‘Icons of English Literature’ today. The podcast is available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0004s95

Chaucer is renowned as the father of English literature. But in a new biography Marion Turner argues he is a far more cosmopolitan writer and thinker than we might assume. She tells Andrew Marr how the 14th-century author of The Canterbury Tales moved from the commercial wharves of London to the chapels of Florence, and from a spell as a prisoner of war in France to the role of diplomat in Milan.

The academic Emma Smith challenges audiences to look with fresh eyes at the plays of Shakespeare. In a series of essays she reveals how his plays have as much to say about PTSD, intersectionality and #MeToo as they do about Ovid, marriage and the divine right of kings.

When Charles Dickens started his writing career, his ambition was global: to speak to ‘every nation upon earth’. And he succeeded. His stories reached Russia, China, Australia, even Antarctica, and he was mobbed in the street when he visited America. Juliet John, co-curator of the exhibition Global Dickens, examines how Dickens’s work could travel so far, when the settings of his novels were much closer to home. [BBC]

Into the World

Prof. Sobecki was speaking about the travels of Sir John Mandeville on BBC Radio 4 on Monday night. The episode is available as a download at: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0003tdk

From the BBC site:

At a moment when Brexit and our carbon footprints are prompting us to reassess what it means to move around the world, Sarah Dunant looks at the long history of travel and the ways it has enchanted and alarmed us across the centuries.

The anxieties over young Tudor travellers returning radicalised from Catholic Europe was a phenomenon that gripped England after the break with Rome. Nandini Das argues that fears over travel helped to define a nation.

Professor Eric Zuelow shows how the Nazi regime turned travel into a highly sophisticated propaganda tool, organising tours and trips specifically designed to cement ideas of racial superiority and national identity.

In the Middle Ages, travel is seen to be a startlingly tolerant and cosmopolitan experience, as the naturally curious medieval mind seeks to expand the borders of its world in a spirit of generosity. Whether the fantastical journeys of Sir John Mandeville or the diplomatic missions of Dominican Friars to Mongol Kings, Sebastian Sobecki explains how new discoveries were always understood through their existing religious and cultural lenses.

Medieval English Travel

Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology, edited by Sebastian Sobecki (Groningen) and Anthony Bale (Birkbeck, London) has just been published by Oxford University Press.

Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology is a comprehensive volume that consists of three sections: concise introductory essays written by leading specialists; an anthology of important and less well-known texts, grouped by destination; and a selection of supporting bibliographies organised by type of voyage. This anthology presents some texts for the first time in a modern edition. (Publisher’s description)

More details here

 

Book of Kells

Trinity College Dublin is running a free online course based around its most famous manuscript, The Book of Kells. It runs for four weeks beginning on 8 October 2018.

Participants

will use the Book of Kells as a window through which to explore the landscape, history, faith, theology, and politics of early medieval Ireland. You will also consider how the manuscript was made, its extended biography and how it has affected different areas of the contemporary world.

Course Website

For an overview of The Book of Kells

(from https://www.tcd.ie/commercial/book-of-kells)

Public lectures

‘Hooked: Art and Attachment’ by Professor Rita Felski (Department of English, University of Virginia). Friday 8 June, 11:30-13:00, Heymanszaal, Academy Building. Professor Felski is an expert in literary theory.

‘The Matter of Touching: Interpreting Signs of Wear in Late Medieval Manuscripts’ by Professor Kathryn Rudy (University of St. Andrews). Monday 18th June, 16:00-18:00, A2 Academy Building.

Contemplative Action – Lecture by Prof. Bernard McGinn

Monday, June 22nd, 16:00-18:00, Courtroom, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) is one of the most noted mystics in Christian history and was declared the first female doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Teresa’s teaching on contemplation and union with God, especially as set forth in her Life and The Interior Castle, remains extremely influential. What is sometimes neglected is that Teresa was also an active reformer of the Carmelite Order, who established seventeen reformed houses in the period between 1562 and 1582. Her own active life led her to reflect on the issue of the relation of contemplation and action, a major theme in Christian mysticism, and to work out a new theory of how to be a contemplative in action, as is evident in her masterpiece The Interior Castle.

Bernard McGinn is Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He has written extensively in the areas of the history of apocalyptic thought and, most recently, in the areas of spirituality and mysticism. His current long-range project is a seven-volume history of Christian mysticism in the West under the general title The Presence of God, four volumes of which have appeared: The Origins of MysticismThe Growth of MysticismThe Flowering of Mysticism; and The Harvest of Mysticism in Medieval Germany.