The Medieval Cosmologies Working Group is back for our 2017 lecture – our fifth since we began in 2013! We are pleased to announce the visit of Charles Burnett, Professor of the History of Arabic/Islamic Influences in Europe, Warburg Institute, University of London. Professor Burnett will give a public lecture on Thursday, March 9, at 4:30 PM in Goldwin Smith G22, entitled “The Worldview of Abu Ma’shar of Balkh (Albumasar).” A reception will follow at 6:00 PM in the History of Art Gallery.
Abu Ma‘shar Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Balkhi (787-886 AD), known as Albumasar in the West, was the eminent Arabic astrologer of the Middle Ages. Throughout his Great Introduction to Astrology, which was translated twice into Latin in the twelfth century, is an integrated worldview, embracing not only prognostication, but also cosmology, astronomy, physics, geography, medicine and ethics. This lecture addresses Abu Ma‘shar’s ideas of the position of man within his world and how they were subtly changed in the process of transmission from Arabic into Latin.
A presentation by Laurent Ferri, curator of pre-1800 collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, adjunct associate professor of Comparative Literature, and member of the graduate field in the Department of Medieval Studies. Lecture date: September 24, 2015. More information here.
Please join us in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Medieval Studies Program at Cornell University. Our celebration will include a roundtable discussion of the program’s history, honors for the charter members of the program, and a keynote address by Don Randel (Chairman of the Board of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences).
Cynthia Robinson [History of Art] will discuss Nasrid visual culture at noon this Wednesday, April 13, in White Hall room B04.
In scholarship of the past few decades, symbol and metaphor, as couched in poetry, rhymed prose and sacred texts, have been shown to provide productive lenses through which to reconstruct the phenomenology of viewers’ experiences of numerous medieval Islamic built environments. Her own previous work includes deep exploration of these themes in both fitna/Taifa (11th-century) and Almoravid (late 11th-early 12th century) contexts. Her present project brings these concerns into the Naṣrid and post-Naṣrid contexts of Granada, where metaphor’s task might be said to have morphed from one of transformation to one of embodiment, of assisting audiences in comprehending the “true” nature and essence of what they see. This paper will focus on two key case studies: the first, a lighting display confected from the (only, and quite lavish) celebration of the mawlid orchestrated by Muḥammad V in December of 1362, within the precincts of the Alhambra; the second, an inscription containing the famous “Light Verse” known to have formed part of the program of ornament commissioned for Granada’s Madrasa Yūsufiyya in the 1340s. Neither object of investigation survives physically—texts provide our only windows onto them, and will serve as our point of departure for their reconstruction and interpretation.
On April 13 (Wednesday) at 4:30PM, Prof. MICHEL ZINK will deliver a lecture at the A.D. White House (Guerlac Room) titled, “Women’s Songs/Men’s Songs in Medieval Europe”
Michel Zink holds the chair in “Littératures de la France médiévale” at the Collège de France, which goes back to the illustrious tradition of the chair of “Langue et littérature françaises du Moyen Âge” founded in 1853 for Paulin Paris. Before 1994 he was a professor of medieval French literature at the Sorbonne (1968-70, 1972-76, and 1987-94), at the University of Tunis (1970-72), and at the University of Toulouse (1976-87). He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Constance, the Johns Hopkins University, Berkeley, and Yale. In 2007 he received the International Balzan Prize “for his fundamental contributions to the understanding of French and Occitan literature in the Middle Ages, a decisive chapter in the development of modern European literature; for his new interpretation of the relation between medieval and modern literature; and for his seminal initiatives that have brought the literature of the Middle Ages back into the cultural tradition of France and Europe.”
Hispanic Studies invites you to “The Wise King’s Nightmare,” a lecture by Simon Doubleday (Hofstra University), Thursday, April 7, 4:30 p.m., Klarman Hall room KG42. Reception to follow.
Doubleday is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Hofstra University, founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies, president of the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain, and author of The Wise King: A Christian Prince, Muslim Spain and the Birth of the Renaissance (Basic Books, 2015).
Quodlibet will sponsor the visit of David Freidenreich [Colby College], who will deliver a lecture on Monday, March 21 at 4:30pm in White Hall room 110: “”Food and Identity in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”
“Refusing to share a meal or accept food prepared by others does more than just express the notion that ‘We’ want nothing to do with ‘Them.’ This kind of anti-social behavior also reinforces ideas about who They are and, perhaps more importantly, who We are. Join us to explore the evolution of Jewish food laws and the ideas they convey about Jewishness. We’ll also examine the role food restrictions play in shaping Christian and Islamic identity, and we’ll consider the ways in which traditional ideas about Us and Them continue to shape interfaith relations today.”
David M. Freidenreich is the Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College, where he serves as director of the Jewish studies program and associate director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. As a member of the religious studies department, he teaches a wide range of courses on Judaism, Jewish history, and comparative religion. After receiving a B.A. from Brandeis University, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. His award-winning first book, Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law, explores attitudes toward adherents of foreign religions expressed in ancient and medieval laws about sharing food. He is currently studying the ways Christians have used ideas about Jews to think about Muslims.
[Also, from the Department of Near Eastern Studies:]
“Freidenreich will also be giving a lecture entitled ‘Christian Portrayals of Muhammad’s Jewish Associates’ on March 21st from 12:10-1:10pm in 410 White Hall. Lunch will be provided. If there is significant interest in this lecture, it may be necessary to change the room location to 110 White Hall. 410 is our lounge and we’ve got somewhat limited seating, perhaps enough for 25 people.”
If interested in this noontime lecture, please contact Ayla Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, March 11th, the Medieval Cosmologies Working Group will host a visit by Ilya Dines, Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, and a scholar of medieval Latin manuscripts who specializes in natural-scientific traditions, with a particular focus on bestiaries and cartography (nli.academia.edu/IlyaDines). His critical edition of the bestiaries of the “third family” is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press, and his edition of and commentary on the Westminster Bestiary is forthcoming from Siloé. The visit will consist of a workshop and a seminar, both of which are open to all interested members of the community.
From 1:30-3:00, Kroch Library will host a workshop with relevant manuscripts and early printed works in Cornell’s collections.
From 4:30-6:30 in Goldwin Smith 156, Ilya Dines will lead a seminar on Huntington HM 38, a volume on geography, astronomy, medicine, and the apocalypse produced in the fifteenth-century in Lübeck. The manuscript contains a unique sequence of maps that illustrate “what will happen to the earth during the Last Days,” which are the topic of a new monograph by Chet van Duzer and Ilya Dines: Apocalyptic Cartography: Thematic Maps and the End of the World in a Fifteenth-Century Manuscript (Brill, 2016). Attendees may access an electronic copy of the monograph at this link – https://cornell.box.com/s/co2tmifnm34lgr785skwn2ioduwbf09r – please focus on chapters 1 and 5.
Ilya Dines’s visit has been supported by the Program in Medieval Studies and the Departments of English and the History of Art.
Andrew Hicks [Music] will discuss Beatius/Cum humanum at noon next Wednesday, February 10, in Uris G88.
Beatius/Cum humanum is an imperfect motet, and it performs its imperfections in myriad ways. On the most basic material level it survives imperfectly, lacking its tenor (or more) in all three surviving sources. These sources, moreover, are philologically imperfect, witnessing substantial but not insoluble textual corruptions in several key verses. Such (accidental) material and philological imperfections, however, almost ruefully befit a motet that intentionally centers upon the fraught relationship between the apparent perfection of rule-bound discipline and the realities of musical and theological imperfection.
Join us for a presentation by Laurent Ferri, curator of pre-1800 collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, adjunct associate professor of comparative literature, and member of the graduate field in the Department of Medieval Studies. The presentation takes place on Thursday, September 24, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in the Carl A. Kroch Library, room 2B48.
Rare and beautiful materials from the Cornell’s collections will be on display. They document the importance of heraldry to study wars, tournaments, family dynamics and structures, or social identification and control, but also—and perhaps, more unexpectedly—art patronage, cartography, finance, and even pharmacopoeia in Europe from c. 1150-1550, with particular emphasis on the following regions: England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Spain.
This event is cosponsored by Medieval Studies and Cornell University Library.
image: Cutting on vellum from the Great Choir Book of Ferdinand and Isabella, Castile, ca. 1479-92.Cornell University Library, Division of Rare Books and Manuscripts, #6532 Map Case Folder 8 (New Acquisition)