September 27, 2022 – Andrew Romig

June 1st, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 27 Sept., 4:30 PM – Andrew Romig (NYU Gallatin). “The Wrong Kind of Flattery: Critique and Praise in Walahfrid Strabo’s De imagine Tetrici.” 

Walahfrid Strabo’s De imagine Tetrici (On the Image of Tetricus) juxtaposes panegyric for Louis the Pious with an embellished and stylized reflection on an equestrian statue of Theodoric the Great that allegedly stood on the Aachen palace grounds. This essay explores the possibility that an encomium for Louis at the end of the poem, performed in the voice of Strabo himself, is actually a mocking representation of bad panegyric art, the kind of empty and fawning flattery that leads an emperor astray and to which Carolingian leadership had perhaps, according to the poem’s central allusion, fallen victim.

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October 25, 2022 – Elias Muhanna

June 1st, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 25 October, 4:30PM – Elias Muhanna (Brown University). “The Unlettered Prophet.”

This paper explores the history of Arabic in the early seventh century, focusing on evidence supplied by the Quran and its textual record. It synthesizes various debates relating to the transition from Old Arabic to Classical Arabic that began in the mid-19th century and places them in the context of new developments in Quranic paleography and codicology.

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November 3, 2022 – 43rd William Church Lecture: John Jeffries Martin

June 1st, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 3 November, 5:30P. 43rd William Church Lecture, John Jeffries Martin (Duke University), “From the Apocalypse to the Idea of Progress in Early Modern Europe.” 

In the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century, Europeans expressed their hopes for the future within an apocalyptic, even millenarian frame. But in the late seventeenth and throughout the eighteenth century a new language of hope emerged as the Idea of Progress took hold. This presentation explores this transition with attention both to the emergence of secular values and to shifting notions of Divine Providence in the early modern world. 

John Jeffries Martin is a historian of early modern Europe, with particular interests in the social, cultural, and intellectual history of Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is the author of Venice’s Hidden Enemies: Italian Heretics in a Renaissance City (1993), winner of the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association, Myths of Renaissance Individualism (2004), and A Beautiful Ending: The Apocalyptic Imagination and the Making of the Modern World (2022) as well as some 50 articles and essays. 

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Nov 15, 2022 – Yekai (Kyle) Zhang

June 1st, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: Nov 15, 5-6:30PM (Note the time change) – Yekai (Kyle) Zhang (grad student, History, Brown University), “The Representation and Social Memory of the 1641 Irish Rebellion in Protestant England, c. 1642-1689.”

There will be a pre-circulated paper for this talk.

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February 28, 2023 – Matthew Kadane

May 30th, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 28 Feb., 4:30 PM – Matthew Kadane (Hobart and William Smith Colleges), “Mind-Forged Manicules, or, What was “Enlightenment”?

This paper focuses on the first person to use the now common English word “enlightenment,” a naval surgeon named James Rymer (1750-1827). “The Enlightenment” existed without Rymer’s word—this is not an exercise in Begriffsgeschichte. But the investigation of the word nevertheless opens up an unexpected world in which obscure people have an important role to play in intellectual history. Exploring the nature of that role is the methodological aim of the paper, while its more substantive goal is to reconstruct Rymer’s story, which, like the Enlightenment itself, is at times serious, at times farcical, and offers an object lesson in the difficulty of disentangling humanitarian from instrumentalist motives. 

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March 21, 2023 – Stacey Murrell

May 30th, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 21 March, 2023, 4:30 PM – Stacey Murrell (Brown University). More information will be coming soon.

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April 18, 2023 – Neil Safier

May 30th, 2022 No comments

MEMHS: 18 April, 2023, 4:30 PM – Neil Safier (Brown University). “Translating the Plantationocene from the Prerevolutionary Caribbean to Colonial Brazil.”

How was the language of plantation society ported from the French and English-dominated Caribbean to colonial Brazil in the eighteenth century? What role did agro-industrial treatises play in the perpetuation of systems of enslaved labor as plantation societies shifted from sugar production to a wider array of foodstuffs, beverages, and profit-oriented utilitarian crops? Long understood to be powerful manuals for naturalists and plantation masters alike, these pragmatic instructional texts, focused around questions of climate, natural history, and commodity-driven agriculture, have only recently been understood to have circulated outside the narrow Caribbean world for which they were destined. One iconic protagonist of this translation process was the Franciscan friar José Mariano da Conceição Vellozo (1742-1811), who served as a linguistic conduit for moving natural knowledge from an array of texts produced in colonial cultures around the globe into print – and into Portuguese in particular. This talk examines Vellozo’s multi-volume and multi-faceted Fazendeiro do Brazil (1798-1806) with an eye toward connecting the eighteenth-century natural sciences, the ambitions of expanding plantation-based economies, and the politics of translation across the multilingual geographies of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

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September 28, 2021 – Hannah Marcus

August 11th, 2021 No comments

MEMHS: 28 Sept., 4:30 PM – Hannah Marcus (Harvard University). “Cassandra Fedele and the Spectacle of Old Age in Early Modern Venice.”

Abstract:
On May 1, 1556, the 91-year-old humanist and former child prodigy, Cassandra Fedele, performed a Latin oration celebrating a visit to Venice by the Polish Queen. In this chapter draft from my new book project, I reread Fedele’s life and works, focusing not on her famous childhood, but on her experiences as a very old woman living in Venice during a period that was increasingly fixated on the possibilities of long life. I argue that her precarious situation and public performances were part of a broader culture in sixteenth-century Italy that at once valorized and made a spectacle of the elderly in the space of the city.

Pavilion Room, History deparment.

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October 19, 2021 – Zhang Yekai

August 9th, 2021 No comments

MEMHS: 19 Oct., 4:00 P.M. – Zhang Yekai (History, grad. student). ‘Ballads, Poems and the Political Culture of the Second and Third Dutch Wars in Britain, c. 1664-1674’.

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November 16, 2021 – The 42nd William F. Church Memorial Lecture, Gillian Weiss and Meredith Martin

August 7th, 2021 No comments

16 Nov., 5:30 P.M. – The 42nd William F. Church Memorial Lecture, Gillian Weiss (Case Western Reserve University) and Meredith Martin (New York Univesity). “Remembering Mediterranean Slavery in Early Modern France.” Smith-Buonanno, 106.

The transnational movement to confront the legacies of Atlantic slavery has seen statues topple, memorials rise and exhibitions open across the globe. For the most part, however, the phenomenon of early modern galley slavery – and, in particular, enslaved Muslim oarsmen on France’s Mediterranean galleys – has escaped contemporary reckoning. This lecture explores the traces of two thousand esclaves turcs (enslaved Turks) purchased to row on King Louis XIV’s vessels while considering some of the factors shaping their depiction in monuments and museum displays. Ship design, naval weapons, medals, paintings, and prints depicting Ottoman and Moroccan subjects helped proclaim royal supremacy in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. What are the stakes of remembering these individuals today?

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