Past Events - Video Recordings

VIDEO COMING SOON! Distinguished Lecture Series: Why Won't the King Walk? Aristocratic Disability in Arthurian Narrative

Christopher Baswell, Barnard College - March 7
Throughout Arthurian tradition, the crippled Fisher King is a persistently absent presence. Sought by a sequence of heroes, he and his castle are found, if at all, only by chance. His cure and death at once lead to a resolution of the grail quest, yet mark the end of the Arthurian adventure. Despite this general absence, including a visual absence in the many illustrated manuscripts, the Fisher King is adumbrated by a skein of doubles and avatars throughout the Arthurian narrative, ranging from wounded and immobilized knights, to crippled royal doubles who (like the Fisher King) exist strangely outside time. This talk explores a sequence of encounters with the immobile king that range from the near-erotic to the transcendent.

Distinguished Lecture Series: Trust and Credit, The Mercantile Culture of Risk in Renaissance Italy

Nicholas Baker, Macquarie University - February 22, 2018
Renaissance Italy was a society in which the problems of how to trust and whom to trust presented perennial challenges; yet it also housed a vibrant, trans-continental, proto-capitalist economy that relied on trust for its functioning. This paper explores how Renaissance Italian merchants confronted and attempted to manage the problems of trust and the particular mercantile culture that resulted from this: a culture that blended apparently modernizing elements—such as probabilistic reasoning—with what appear to twenty-first-century eyes as irrational beliefs, religious faith, and ideas about personal standing. At its center lay new conceptions of time and the future, which provoked anxieties and offered possibilities in equal measure.

Distinguished Lecture Series: A Singular and Plural Beast

Jamie Kreiner, University of Georgia - February 8, 2018
In the early Middle Ages, the pig was a caricature for greed, dirt, and disorder (and not much has changed). And in other ways, too, Europeans in this period thought of this animal in the singular — as a coherent, uniform, and legible species. On the other hand, they knew that pigs very much existed in the plural, not only because there were herds of them almost everywhere, but also because these were creatures whose fleshy specificity mattered: as groups and even as individuals they were capable of responding to and altering their environments, including the human societies that only partially constrained them. This talk explores that contrapuntal history between "the pig" and "pigs" in early medieval Europe.