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The University of Pittsburgh’s Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program

Sponsored and Co-Sponsored Events

Spring 2010

Thursday, January 28, 4:30 pm

202 Frick Fine Arts

JEAN GIVENS (History of Art, University of Connecticut )

"Picturing the Healing Arts: Illustrating a Medieval Book of Remedies."

Jean Givens is Professor of Art History. Her research centers on medieval England and France, the history of history of visual and verbal literacy, and design initiatives in twentieth-century Denmark and Sweden. Her books include  Observation and Image-Making in Gothic Art (Cambridge University Press, 2005)--awarded the Medieval Academy of America’s John Nicholas Brown Prize for 2009—and Visualizing Medieval Medicine and Natural History, 1220-1550 (Ashgate, 2006) co-edited with historians of science, Karen Reeds and Alain Touwaide. A new book on medieval and early modern scientific illustration, Reading Beyond the Text: Image, Word, and the Illustrated Tractatus de herbis, is nearing completion. Her current project, Marketing Modernism: Sweden, Denmark, and the Good Life, addresses a formative alliance between design theoreticians and Nordic policy makers between 1920 and 1960.

Co-sponsored by the European Union Center of Excellence, the European Studies Center, and the History of Art and Architecture Department

Monday, February 8 at 4:30 pm

Chatham University in the Mellon Living Room (parking passes will be available in Mellon Living Room from 4:00-4:30).


Dan Brayton (Middlebury College)

"Shakespeare and the Sea: Why Blue Ecocriticism Matters."

Dan Brayton is Assistant Professor of English and American Literatures at Middlebury College, where he also teaches in the Environmental Studies Program. He earned his doctorate at Cornell in 2001 and has published in English Literary History, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Shakespeare Quarterly, Scribners’ British Writers series, and WoodenBoat. His has held visiting appointments at Sea Education Association as well as the Williams-Mystic Program in Maritime Studies and has worked aboard sailing ships in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Caribbean. He is co-editor of a forthcoming volume of early modern eco-criticism (Eco-critical Shakespeare), is the Literature, Art, and Music section editor of a new journal, Coriolis: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies and working on a monograph called Shakespeare and the Global Ocean: Towards a Blue Ecocriticism.

Co-sponsored by The Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University. Free and open to the public.


Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25-26

AYANNA THOMPSON (English, Arizona State)

Thursday, Feb. 25, 4:30


"Othello in the 21st Century"

Is it possible for Shakesepare’s Othello to say something of contemporary relevance to a twenty-first-century audience? Or must the play exist as a museum piece of a bygone history and culture, and of bygone cultural constructions? This talk will explore the roles that Othello should play in our twenty-first-century American world. One example will be Peter Sellars’s 2009 production of Othello, which destabilized traditional narratives about Shakespeare, race, and performance.

Friday, Feb. 26, 11:00

CL 512

Faculty/Grad seminar: "Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America"

Ayanna Thompson is an Associate Professor of English and an affiliate faculty in Women and Gender Studies and Film and Media Studies. She specializes in renaissance drama and focuses on early depictions of race. She is the author of two books: Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (in press, Oxford University Press) and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008). She is the editor of two books: Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) (co-edited with Scott Newstok) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). Thompson is the guest editor of two special editions of scholarly journals: "Shakespeare, Race, and Performance," Shakespeare Bulletin (27.3: 2009) and "Actors of Color in Shakespeare," Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation (4.1, 2008).

Co-sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, and the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at CMU

Friday, Feb. 26, 4:30

203 FFA


"Witnessing the Incarnation in Medieval Art"

Brigitte Roux currently holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Fonds national suisse de la recherche scientifique and is Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University.  She completed her Ph.D. in Art History at the Université de Genève in 2004 on L'iconographie du Livre du trésor de Brunetto Latini.  Her book, Mondes en miniatures: L'iconographie du Livre du trésor de Brunetto Latini, was published by Droz in 2009.  This talk is drawn from her current research on the Representation of the Witness in Medieval Art.

Co-sponsored by the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program.

Friday, March 19, 2:00


AMNON RAZ-KRAKOTZKIN (History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

"Censorship and the Secularization of Jewish Discourse."


Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin is Senior Lecturer in History at Ben-Gurion University. Raz-Krakotzkin has written and lectured widely on various topics of Jewish history: the history of Zionism; the Holocaust; issues of nationalism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His most recent book, The Censor, the Editor and the Text (Penn, 2007), examines the impact of Catholic censorship on the publication and dissemination of Hebrew literature in the early modern period. He is currently a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.


Jointly sponsored by the Program in Jewish Studies and the Humanities Center


Thursday, April 8, 12:30:

602 Cathedral of Learning

Hannah Johnson (Humanities Center Fellow, English, Pitt)

Humanities Center Colloquium: “The Ariel Toaff Scandal and the New Politics of Blood Libel”

Note: this is a discussion of a pre-circulated paper. To receive a copy of the paper, please email humctr@pitt.edu.

Hannah Johnson’s teaching and research interests encompass medieval historical writing and modern historiography, contemporary philosophies of history, and the literary aspects of medieval cultural forms committed to truth-telling projects, such as saints’ lives and travel narratives. Her book manuscript, "Crimes and Libels: The Ethics of Memory and the Medieval Ritual Murder Accusation in Jewish History,” examines the intersection of ethical commitments and methodological questions in modern historical writing about the ritual murder accusation. Her most recent article, “Rhetoric’s Work: Thomas of Monmouth and the History of Forgetting,” appeared in volume 9 of New Medieval Literatures.

Sponsored by the Humanities Center


Thursday, April 8th, 4pm

50l Cathedral of Learning



 “Seeing The Virgin's 'Pryvytes': Our Lady of Walsingham and the Sexualization of the Virgin in late Medieval and Early Modern England.”


Gary Waller is Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies and Theatre Studies at Purchase College, SUNY.  He has taught at universities in New Zealand, Canada, England, and at Carnegie-Mellon and Hartford before coming to Purchase in 1995 as Provost, a position he held until 2004.  His books include The Strong Necessity of Time; Dreaming America: the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates; Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke; Reading Texts Shakespeare's Comedies; The Sidney Family Romance: Mary Wroth, William Herbert and the Construction of Gender in Early Modern England; English Poetry in the Sixteenth Century; Edmund Spenser: A Literary Life; All’s Well that Ends Well: New Critical Essays; and Walsingham from Middle Ages to Modernity. He is currently completing two books, Walsingham and the English Imagination (Ashgate), and The Virgin Mary in late Medieval and Early Modern Literature and Popular Culture (Cambridge). 

Reception to follow


Sponsored by the Department of English



Friday, April 16, 3:00

501 CL

GONZALO LAMANA (Hispanic, Pitt)

"Truth, Self-Evidence, and the Colonial Question (ca. 1500)”

Gonzalo Lamana's research and teaching explore themes of colonialism and subalternity, cultural contact, meaning-making, and historical change. He is the author of several articles and a recent book, Domination without Dominance: Inca-Spanish encounters in Early Colonial Peru (Duke, 2008). Lamana is currently working on two new research projects at the juncture of de-colonial attempts. The first examines colonial acts of reality-making through the lens of magic, while the second examines the emergence of a colonial grammar of difference in the second half of the sixteenth century in the Andes.  

Co-sponsored by the European Union Center of Excellence, the European Studies Center and the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures

Questions? Please contact Program Director Jen Waldron (jwaldron@pitt.edu)


For a list of past events please see the Events Archives.


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