Category Archives: lecture

The University of Sydney: Seminars Italian Studies and Global Middle Ages

The University of Sydney: Seminars Italian Studies and Global Middle Ages

Italian Studies Research Seminar Series, first meeting Semester 2
“Dante’s Commedia and Distant Reading: A New Approach”, Jacob Blakesley, University of Leeds

Date: Thursday, 10 August 2017
Time: 4:15pm-6:00pm
Venue: SLC Common Room (Brennan MacCallum Building, 7th floor)
More information:

In the seven centuries of Dante scholarship, there has been little comparative research on the translation and circulation of Dante’s Commedia. Only two edited collections include panoramic essays on translations of the Commedia into a number of languages. This is most likely due to the striking fact that there exists no bibliography of worldwide translations of the Commedia. No one knows how many translations there have been into major and minor languages; nor how many times each cantica has been translated, nor how many translators there have been. This paper describes the initial work-in-progress stage of a new project, which will catalogue all the worldwide published translations of the Commedia, from the sixteenth century until today. Adopting a distant-reading, quantitative methodology, inscribed within a sociological approach to literary translation, this project will be the first study to map and study the circulation and translation of Dante’s Commedia across the globe. This paper will address the methodology for this study (relying on different sources, ranging from Worldcat, national libraries, and UNESCO’s Index Translationum to printed bibliographies), and describe the expected outcomes of the project.

JACOB BLAKESLEY is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Translation Studies and a University Academic Fellow in World Literatures at the University of Leeds. His monograph, Modern Italian Poets: Translators of the Impossible, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014. He recently edited, with Jeremy Munday, a special journal issue of Translation and Literature entitled ‘Poetry Translation: Agents, Actors, Networks, Contexts’ (2016). His book in progress is called ‘Poets of Europe: Translators of the World’, which shows the dramatically different translation practices of English, French, and Italian poet-translators. He has published articles on literary translation and Italian poetry in various journals, such as Allegoria, Italica, Lettere Italiane, Moderna, Semicerchio, and Testo a Fronte.

Global Middle Ages seminar series, Semester 2

  • Wed 16 August – Prof Constant J. Mews (Monash University) [rescheduled from May)]: Rethinking Religious History in Global Perspective: Songlines, Sacred Stories and Theologies
  • Wed 30 August – Dr Michael Abrahams-Sprod (FASS-SLC, Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies): Sanctifying God’s Name: The Ethos of Jewish Martyrdom in Medieval Ashkenaz (Germany)
  • Wed 20 September – Anne Dunlop (University of Melbourne): Mongol Eurasia and Cangrande’s Silk Suit
  • Wed 25 October – Prof Dominique Barbe (University of Noumea, New Caledonia): Oceania in the Middle Ages: A Connected World

Date and time: Wednesdays: 4:00pm-5:30pm
Venue: Kevin Lee Room (Quadrangle Building, Level 6, [Brennan MacCallum Building])
For more details and abstracts:
More information:

Dr Adelina Modesti, The University of Melbourne Early Modern Circle Talk

The University of Melbourne, Early Modern Circle Public Lecture:

“The Female Virtuosa at the Court of Medici Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere: Ladies-in-waiting, Artists, Musicians, Actresses and Writers”,
Dr Adelina Modesti (La Trobe University)

Date: 21 August, 2017
Time: 6:15pm
Venue: North Theatre, Old Arts, The University of Melbourne

This paper will address the cultural patronage (“matronage”) of Grand Duchess of Tuscany Vittoria della Rovere via an examination of the virtuoso women artists, musicians and writers she supported throughout her long life. Victoria was an active matron of the arts who gathered round her some of the most important female cultural producers of the day, sponsoring their creative work and developing their talent. Some of these women were her ladies-in-waiting, whom she educated as artists, musicians or embroiderers as part of their cultural development and future roles at the Medici court. Others were professional artists whom she patronized or called to her court as resident artists. In particular Vittoria appreciated the cultural production of the painters Giovanna Garzoni, Elisabetta Sirani, Margherita Caffi, Camilla Guerrieri Nati, Giovanna Fratellini; the composer Barbara Strozzi; singers Francesca Caccini and her daughter Margherita Signorini, Luisa Marsia, Maria Caterina Piccioli; the actress Beatrice Vitali; and the writers Arcangela Tarabotti, Maria Selvaggia Borghini and Barbara Tigliamochi degli Albizzi. The paper will finish with a discussion of Le Assicurate, the all female literary academy founded in Siena in 1654 under the “patroncinio” of Vittoria della Rovere. Unpublished archival material from the Archivio di Stato di Firenze will introduce some of these women, whilst new light will be shed on the art and lives of others.

Professor Christina Neilson, Two Lectures of Interest @ USyd and AGNSW

1. Crafting the Miraculous: Animating Automata
Date: Tuesday 8 August, 2017
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: University of Sydney, Lecture Room 424, Education Building, Manning Rd

Sculptures with movable body parts appeared during the late Middle Ages and their appeal continued for centuries. With arms that could fold, legs that could bend, heads that could nod, eyes that could roll, and tongues that could move, these figures closely approximated that which they represented—living things. The ability of these sculptures to move suggested they had come to life, but this capacity was dependent on makers, who applied leather, parchment or polychromed gesso like skin over a corpus of wood with joints rendered to enable movement. This lecture will address what it meant for an artist to make these images and explore how the maker’s skill intersected with their object’s ability to become animated

Christina Neilson is Associate Professor in the History of Art at Oberlin College, where she teaches Renaissance and Baroque art. She is a graduate of the Art History Department at Sydney University and has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. She has published articles on Verrocchio and the meaning of materials in Renaissance art, and an exhibition catalogue on Parmigianino’s Antea; her book, Verrocchio’s Factura: Making and Meaning in an Italian Renaissance Workshop, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

2. The Art of Andrea del Verrocchio: Materiality and Experimentation
Date: Thursday 3 August
Time: 10:30am
Venue: Domain Theatre, AGNSW (Art Gallery Society)
Cost: $25 non-member / $15 member / $10 Art Appreciation subscriber
More details:

Andrea del Verrocchio (c1435-88) was Leonardo da Vinci’s teacher and one of the most inventive artists in Renaissance Florence. Professor Neilson will examine how Verrocchio used materials and techniques to construct meaning and explore his unusual approach to making objects, which included casting animals in bronze and transferring tools and techniques from one medium to another. Verrocchio’s unusual practices provided him with a sophisticated system for expressing complex ideas — theological, political, economic, poetic — metaphorically, through visual puns on making and through his use of materials.

Professor Neilson is an associate professor of Renaissance and Baroque art history at Oberlin College in Ohio, USA.

Dr Spencer Jackson, Free Public Lecture @ UQ Art Museum

“Austen in the Age of Trump”, Spencer Jackson (The University of Queensland)

Date: Thursday 27 July, 2017
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: The University of Queensland Art Museum, St Lucia
Registration: Free. All welcome. RSVP online:

A scandal has befallen the world of Jane Austen scholarship: its author has been embraced by Nazis. The global white supremacist movement has begun to cite Austen’s novels as portraits of the polite, tradition-bound society that they believe would characterise their white ‘enthnostates’. Austen scholars have responded to this news with predictable horror, defending themselves as a ‘rational, compassionate and liberal-minded people’. The problem, however, is that the Nazis have a point: Austen’s novels articulate a nationalism that is in fact racist, and in my talk, we will analyse this nationalism and discuss the points of ambivalence within it. My lecture will focus on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813), and I will aim to situate this story within the broader context of eighteenth-century British writing and of the history of novel more generally. I will in particular discuss two earlier novels, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722) and Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina (1725), and show how their theatrical tales of thievery and prostitution represent a kind of negative foundation for Austen’s later polite romances. Austen’s novels centre upon the drama of young women struggling to navigate the process of preparing for marriage, which was in this period an at once political and theological event bound up with the broader identity of the British Empire. Yet herein lies a difficulty for Austen’s ‘alt-right’ readers: Austen’s stories aren’t really about marriage. Instead, they are about becoming a better person in the midst of preparing for it, and the people who engage in this process of self-improvement in Austen’s tales are not the wealthy men who governed early nineteenth-century British society, but rather the young women who were largely excluded from political and economic power. My talk will conclude by outlining the place of women within early nineteenth-century British society and by discussing the significance of Austen’s decision to centre her tales on them. Austen cultivates an enlightened art of self-governance within a marginalised group and, by doing so, she might just articulate a strategy for autonomy and emancipation that is of greater relevance to the enemies than to the supporters of the contemporary neo-Nazi movement.

Spencer Jackson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in The University of Queensland node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from UCLA, and he specialises in eighteenth-century British literature as well as critical theory. His work has appeared in journals such as Studies in Romanticism, Substance and The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. He currently is completing a book titled ‘God Made the Novel: The Political Theologies of Empire and Resistance in Long Eighteenth-Century British Literature’.

Australian Academy of the Humanities 48th Symposium – Registration Now Open

Australian Academy of the Humanities 48th Symposium
The University of Western Australia and WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle
15‒17 November 2017

Wednesday 15 November, The University of Western Australia
Thursday 16 and Friday 17 November, WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

Registration: Opens on Wednesday 12 July, 2017 at the Australian Academy of the Humanities Australian Academy of the Humanities website.

Full program and registration:

The Symposium program will explore three related questions:

  • How is contemporary Australia shaped by these long intellectual and emotional histories regarding human rights and humanitarianism?
  • Can we identify a distinctively Australian perspective on these questions?
  • What are the challenges for Australia today in engaging with human rights related to matters as wide-ranging as sexuality, disability activism, Indigenous rights, linguistic imperialism, refugees, and religious freedoms.

Coinciding with Symposium, is the annual Academy Lecture to be given by novelist, descendant of the Noongar people of Western Australia and Honorary Academy Fellow Professor Kim Scott.

The Academy’s annual Fellows’ events will occur in conjunction with the Symposium program, with Academy meetings and Fellows’ Dinner on Friday 17 November and the Annual General Meeting held Saturday 18 November.


  • Professor Susan Broomhall FAHA (The University of Western Australia)
  • Professor Jane Lydon FAHA (The University of Western Australia)
  • Professor Alan Dench FAHA (Curtin University)
  • Professor Baden Offord (Curtin University)

UWA IAS / CMEMS: Luther’s Reformation at 500 Lecture Series

Luther’s Reformation at 500

On the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, this UWA Institute of Advanced Studies – Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies Lecture Series reconsiders the legacy of Martin Luther, who in 1517 published Ninety-Five Theses criticising the Church’s sale of indulgences. From diverse historical perspectives, UWA researchers tackle key issues regarding Luther’s life, his thought, and his significance for the momentous changes that Europe underwent during his lifetime.

Talks in this series:

8 August – “Luther’s Image and the First Media War”. Speaker: Dr. Susanne Meurer, School of Design, UWA
More info:

12 September – “Luther and the Devil”. Speaker: Professor Jacqueline Van Gent, School of Humanities, UWA
More info:

31 October – “Myth, Memory, and the Making of History”. Speaker: Dr. Kirk Essary, School of Humanities, UWA
More info:

State Library of NSW: Jane Austen 200 Events

It has been 200 years since Jane Austen died, and despite being penned over two centuries ago her works remain both in print and in style.

Join us for a series of events celebrating the life, work and times of this much-loved author Jane Austen.

Regency High Tea
Saturday, 22 July 2017 – 2pm to 3:30pm

Why We Should Still be Reading Austen
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 – 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Austen Aloud
Tuesday 18 July 2017 – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

All Things Austen: Jane Austen Trivia Night
Friday, 21 July 2017 – 6pm to 8:30pm

For full details of all events, and to to book, please visit:

Melbourne Rare Book Week Events of Interest

Full program here:

“Curator’s tour of Medieval Books Great and Small: the Clumber Bible exhibition”, Susan Thomas

Date: Monday 3 July, 2017; and Saturday 8 July, 2017.
Time: 3 July: 12:30pm – 1:15pm; 8 July: 11:30am – 12:15pm
Venue: Dulcie Hollyock Room, Ground floor, Baillieu Library
Bookings: 3 July:
8 July:

Be transported back to the 14th century by immersing yourself in the world of medieval books on this curator-guided meander through the Medieval Books Great and Small: the Clumber Bible exhibition.

Be astonished by the beauty, diversity and size of medieval texts – from the monumental and lavishly illuminated 23kg Clumber Bible (measuring almost 90cm across when open), to the exquisitely diminutive Sarum Breviary (10cm high). Do not miss this opportunity to get close to these splendid vestiges from an earlier time with Baillieu Library Rare Books Curator, Susan Thomas, who will provide short introductions to each object and be happy to answer your questions.

“Literature for everyman”, Stephen Herrin

Date: Monday 3 July, 2017.
Time: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Venue: Monash University Law Chambers

From the middle of the 17th century literature began appearing in more affordable forms, such as tracts, chapbooks, yellowbacks, and penny novels. The literary genres of these books were wide ranging and for both adults and children. There were fairy tales, heroic tales, political subjects, ghost stories, travel and adventure. Gradually these began to gravitate to the more sensational, like the penny dreadfuls. Stephen Herrin will present many examples of these ephemeral literature from the collections of Monash University Rare Books.

“The Kerry Stokes Collection of Medieval Manuscripts,” Professor Emeritus Margaret Manion and Erica Persak

Date: Monday 3 July, 2017.
Time: 5:00pm – 6:15pm
Venue: The Oratory, Newman College

Be captivated as Professor Emeritus Margaret Manion discusses this recently acquired 14th-century French Bible, and Erica Persak describes some of the wonderful medieval manuscripts in the Kerry Stokes Collection.

A Clumber Bible lunchtime double-bill:
“The Duke of Newcastle and the Clumber legacy, &; Early English Illustrated Biblical Cycles”, Shane Carmody and Professor Bernard Muir

Date: Tuesday 4 July, 2017.
Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Venue: Graduate Room, 1st floor, Baillieu Library

Do not miss two fascinating lunchtime talks presented in association with Medieval Books Great and Small: the Clumber Bible exhibition.

The Duke of Newcastle and the Clumber Legacy

Let Shane Carmody delight you with the enthralling story of the Dukes of Newcastle and the family seat Clumber House, Nottinghamshire. Not least, learn about the family`s book collecting interests and how they came to own an enormous 23kg medieval Bible!

Early English Illustrated Biblical Cycles

Professor Bernard Muir will captivate you with his commentary on a selection of early English biblical texts, explaining the meaning of the often beautiful iconography and other decorative schemas.

“The John Emmerson Collection”, Richard Overell & Des Cowley

Date: Thursday 6 July, 2017.
Time: 11:00am – 11:45am and 6:00pm – 6:45pm
Venue: State Library Victoria
Bookings: Email:

Nicholas Barker, editor of The Book Collector, described the late John Emmerson as “one of the great book collectors of our time”. In 2015, the John Emmerson collection, comprising over 5,000 early English books, with a particular emphasis on the English Civil War, was donated to the State Library Victoria. This session will look at some of the highlights from the Emmerson Collection.

Richard Overell was until the end of 2014 the Rare Books Librarian at Monash University Library. He now works at State Library Victoria helping to catalogue the John Emmerson Collection.

Des Cowley is the History of the Book manager at State Library Victoria. He is co-curator of the Library’s ongoing exhibition Mirror of the World: Books & Ideas and co-author of The World of the Book (Melbourne University Press, 2007).

Dr Diane Hall, The University of Melbourne Early Modern Circle Talk

The University of Melbourne, Early Modern Circle Public Lecture:

“Gender and Negotiating the Conclusion of Sieges in Early Modern Ireland”, Dr Diane Hall (Victoria University, Melbourne)

Date: 19 June, 2017
Time: 6:15pm
Venue: North Theatre, Old Arts, The University of Melbourne

The Early Modern Circle is an informal, interdisciplinary seminar group open to interested students, academics and researchers. Drinks are provided and a gold coin donation helps to make this possible.

This paper will analyse how women and men interacted with the complex and often opaque negotiations surrounding the conclusion of sieges during the period 1640s and 50s in Ireland. The paper will use the documents known as the “1641 Depositions”, the records of the trials of rebels in the High Court in 1652/3, the petitions for compensation as well as contemporary narrative descriptions. Sieges often involved non-combatants and there is a large body of contemporary evidence by and about women in these circumstances. There has been interesting scholarly attention paid to women who led the defence of their homes in the absence of their husbands, such as Lady Elizabeth Dowdall and Lettice Digby, Baroness of Offaly. Less attention has been paid to women who had lesser roles in sieges. These women are however often described as intervening in the decisions to seek quarter and to evacuate castles after defences were beaten, such as Martha Piggott of Dysart castle who described how she begged her husband John to seek quarter as it became clear that the castle was being overrun by Confederate forces. Emotive language used when seeking quarter or ending sieges was inflected by gender as well as class and military position. In the murky legal contexts of the conclusion of sieges, women and men occupied different positions, which could be used rhetorically to justifying actions such as seeking quarter or not fulfilling articles of quarter.

Dr Dianne Hall is Senior Lecturer in History at Victoria University, Melbourne. She has published widely on the histories of violence, gender, religion, race and emotion in medieval and early modern Ireland and the nineteenth century Irish diaspora. She is currently working on a monograph with Prof. Elizabeth Malcolm on gender and violence in Ireland from 1200 to 1900. She has held post doctoral research fellowships in the School of History at University of Melbourne and School of Geography, Queen’s University, Belfast before joining Victoria University.

Prof. Constant J Mews, The University of Melbourne Medieval Round Table Talk

The University of Melbourne: Medieval Round Table

“Abelard, Heloise and the Cistercians on Love: Vauluisant and the Paraclete Between History and Legend”, Prof. Constant J Mews (Director, Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University)

Date: 5 June, 2017
Time: 6:15 pm
Venue: North Theatre, first floor, Old Arts, The University of Melbourne

The Medieval Round Table is an informal discussion group open to interested students, academics and independent scholars. The Round Table meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of the month for presentations of papers, discussions of participants’ work in progress, discussions of readings etc.

Abelard, Heloise and Bernard of Clairvaux are three of the most well-known personalities of the twelfth century, identified with three of the most important developments of their age: scholasticism, love and monastic renewal. The persistant antagonism between conflict between Abelard and Bernard tends to mean that Heloise is marginalized as a figure, imagined as someone imprisoned within religious life rather, rather than as the innovative abbess of a religious community. I argue that there were close connections between the Paraclete under Heloise and the nearby Cistercian abbey of Vauluisant, founded in 1127, just two years before Abelard transferred control of the Paraclete to Heloise. While Heloise is often imagined as loyal to the memory of Peter Abelard, she combined certain of his ideas with those of the Cistercians, bringing together at the Paraclete two distinction visions of religious renewal. The fact that the love letters which Heloise and Abelard exchanged at the time of their affair should be preserved in the library of Clairvaux may not be as surprising as it first seems.