Monday, February 23, 2009

Andrea Frisch Seminar 3/6

Please join us for our next lunch seminar on Friday, March 6th. Andrea Frisch, Associate Professor of French at U Maryland, will be discussing her paper "The Poetics of Forgetting in Sixteenth-century France." Please RSVP to me ( and I will send you a copy of the paper. The seminar will be held in GWU's Rome Hall 771 (801 22nd St. NW) from 11:30-1:30. Lunch will be provided. Here is some more information about Professor Frisch from the UMD website:

A specialist in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Andrea Frisch received her PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Berkeley with a dissertation on early modern travel literature and the novel. She subsequently did research in law and literature for The Invention of the Eyewitness: Witnessing and Testimony in Early Modern France (University of North Carolina P, 2004). Her work has appeared in Representations, Romanic Review, Discourse, Esprit créateur and Modern Language Quarterly. Andrea has received fellowships from the Newberry Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities and, most recently, from the National Humanities Center, where she was a fellow in 2004-2005. She is currently writing a book about the impact of the civil wars of the sixteenth century on the literature and aesthetics of the seventeenth century in France.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jeffrey Cohen @ GW's Gelman Library

Horn tooting of the worst kind. Click on image to enlarge.

Jeffrey J. Cohen
Chair of the Department of English, Director of GW Medieval & Early Modern Studies Institute,
Professor of English and Human Sciences

Professor Cohen received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. He has an M.A. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University and a B.A. in English and Classical Studies from the University of Rochester. Professor Cohen’s book publications include Monster Theory: Reading Culture (1996), Becoming Male in the Middle Ages (1997), Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages (1999), The Postcolonial Middle Ages (2000), Thinking the Limits of the Body (2002), Medieval Identity Machines (2003), Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: Of Difficult Middles (2006), and most recently, Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages: Archipelago, Island, England (2008).

Professor Cohen’s research interests include: the history of monsters; postcolonial approaches to the Middle Ages; the mingling of cultures in the British archipelago; identity, race, violence, hybridity, monstrosity, medieval Jews, the body; continental philosophy and critical theory.

Come hear Professor Cohen discuss his latest work:

Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages:
Archipelago, Island, England

( Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
Faculty Authors Book Signing Reception February 12, 2009 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm The Gelman Library Room 207

Monday, February 9, 2009

April Shelford Seminar 2/20

 April Shelford starts our lunch seminar series on Friday, February 20th with her paper “Reading and Enlightenment in 18th-century Jamaica.” As usual, the paper is pre-circulated. Please RSVP to me ( and I will send you a copy. The seminar will be held in GWU's Rome Hall 771 (801 22nd St. NW) from 11:30-1:30. Lunch will be provided. More info about Professor Shelford can be found at her website through American University's Department of History. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Writing after Wallace

As David Wallace illustrated last Friday, conceptualizing a literary history of Europe from 1348-1418 -- a "regenerative" generation achieved through writing -- comes with a series of tricky questions.  What is the "shape" of Europe? Where does it begin and end? And what is the role of literary history within it?  Rather than delivering a straightforward presentation, Wallace asked us not only to ponder these questions, but also to participate in this ongoing, ambitious, and collaborative project (approximately eighty scholars are involved).  So far, the project includes nine "itineraries" of textual production and exchange across diverse locales -- for example, Venice to Prague, Cairo to Constantinople, Mount Athos to Muscovy, and Calais to Walsingham. These itineraries are what I, and I think many others in attendance, found the most provocative. By focusing on locales and local variations rather than (anachronistic) nationalistic paradigms, by magnifying rather than suppressing linguistic difference, by shedding the vestiges of insularism to highlight the nuances of textual production and exchange, we begin to feel anew that delightful "strangeness" of cultural interchange. 

I loved Wallace's use of that word. Discussing the presentation with my "Myths of Britain" students on Wednesday (I lead two discussion sections), parallels between the course and the talk intriguingly arose: What is at stake by stressing "England" over "Britain," and vice versa? What voices are unheard and differences elided when we consider literature and history in discrete, national blocks? I reminisce of Gawain and the Welsh wilderness in Green Knight, or of the fracas and fluidity of identity in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History. And I will definitely continue to ruminate on the limits and possibilities of literary history. 

Thank you to all who attended and contributed to last Friday's event!