Monthly Archives: October 2018

The 2018 Chaucer Lecture by Professor David Wallace

MEMS and The School of English at the University of Kent are delighted to announce this year’s Chaucer Lecture by Professor David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Entitled, Sacrifice Your Daughter, But Not Your Sons: Horrible History in Chaucer and the Book of Judges, the lecture will take place on Thursday, 29th November at 6.00pm in The Guildhall, Westgate, Canterbury CT1 2DB.

This is a public lecture – all are welcome and it is free to attend, although we would ask you to register your interest at the Eventbrite page.

Lecture abstract
Three children are appointed to be sacrificed by their fathers in the Bible, and two are spared. The one not spared is female, and has no name: she is remembered only as the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite. Christian interpreters, such as St Augustine, struggled long and hard over hundreds of years to wring sense from this harsh tale. Chaucer, too, became fascinated by story of Jephthah’s ill-fated daughter, and the wider phenomenon of horrible history: can a tale be so sad, so unregenerate, that it makes you sick? Ironically, and typically, Chaucer assigns this episode in his Canterbury Tales to a physician, a man tasked to cure people (rather than, as Chaucer’s physician threatens to do, to bring on heart attack). But would Chaucer really experiment with bad storytelling? I will argue yes. And can anything like a happy ending be found for Jephthah’s nameless daughter, a tale much discussed by feminist theology? Again, I will argue yes– although the help that Christian interpreters desperately need will come from a most unexpected direction.

Kent to play leading role in €10 million research project

Researchers at the University are set to play a major role in a new €10 million research project on the key role the Qur’an played in European cultural and religious history.

Dr Jan Loop of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will lead a Kent team examining the many ways in which the Muslim holy book influenced European cultural, religious and intellectual history in the period 1150-1850.

The funding is being made through the European Research Council’s (ERC) Synergy Grant and Kent will receive €2.5 million over the coming six years.

The project will produce ground-breaking interdisciplinary research through scientific meetings across Europe, with the universities of Madrid, Nantes and Naples also involved.

As well as producing  academic conferences and books, it is planned that the project will also be accessible to non-academic audiences through a creative multimedia exhibition on the place of the Qur’an in European cultural history.

Dr Loop said: ‘The Qur’an is deeply imbedded in the political and religious thought of Europe and is part of the intellectual repertoire of Medieval and Early Modern Europeans. As such, this research will question the belief that Islam is ‘foreign’ to Europe but also challenge certain Islamic fundamentalist views about the Qur’an.’

Professor Catherine Richardson’s Inaugural Lecture

MEMS is delighted to announce that Professor Catherine Richardson’s inaugural lecture, ‘local things for local people’?: Provincialism, Cultural Value, Shakespeare will be held in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1 from 18:00 on Wednesday 14 November. All are welcome and the event will be followed by a reception in Grimond Foyer. Please register at the following Eventbrite page.

In her inaugural lecture, Professor Catherine Richardson will explore connections and disparities between metropolitan and provincial cultures. She will ponder our often-pejorative sense of the differences between the two – between horizons, patterns of life, ways of thinking and valuing, and especially levels of creativity and the balance between cultural production and consumption. As these are rather large questions to answer in an hour, she will concentrate on the situation in early modern England, and on Shakespeare’s impact on these questions from then to the present. Along the way, there will be the opportunity to ponder travel, material culture, re-telling old tales, and how it might be that the speaker finds herself back in Kent, writing again about the same old play twenty years after her first attempts to understand it.

The lecture will take place in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1 from 18:00 and will be followed by a drinks reception in the Grimond Foyer.

Professor Richardson came to the University of Kent in 2007 from the University of Birmingham, where she was lecturer in English and History and Fellow of The Shakespeare Institute. She is interested in the relationship between texts and the material circumstances of their production and consumption and has published widely on the subject of early modern material culture.

The 2018 Renaissance Lecture by Prof Paul Yachnin

MEMS and the School of English at the University of Kent are delighted to welcome Paul Yachnin, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at McGill University, Montreal to give this year’s Renaissance Lecture. Entitled, ‘Thinking with Conversion in Shakespeare’s Playhouse’ the lecture takes place on Thursday 11th October at 6pm in Grimond Building, Lecture Theatre 2, the University of Kent.

In this presentation, Paul Yachnin provides an account of how thinking about the person and the world (including the political world) in Shakespeare’s playhouse developed inside the problematics and possibilities of conversion.  Thinking about and with conversion extends across Shakespeare’s whole canon, from Taming of the Shrew to The Tempest. The focus here is on Measure for Measure and King Lear. One goal is to make a case for Shakespeare as the creator of a “conversional theatre” (though not in what might be the expected sense of the phrase). Another is to rethink Shakespearean philosophy by adding greater historical specificity—not to mention adding the body, the soul, and the social world—to familiar ideas about Shakespearean scepticism.

All are welcome and a wine reception will follow the lecture.