In 2022-23 the webinar will look at the intersections between text(s) and material culture: from 16th-century recipe books to 20th-century poetry and 17th-century satire, we’ll be examining the links between various types of text(s) and their (im)materiality.
The 2022-2023 Programme :
Tuesday 22 Nov. 5.30-6.30 CET Prof. Pamela Smith (Columbia University)
Making, Writing, and Knowing in Early Modern Europe
An intriguing late sixteenth-century anonymous manuscript, Ms. Fr. 640 (now held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France), contains over 900 “recipes” for objects of art and of everyday use. In 2020, the Making and Knowing Project released a digital critical edition and English translation of this manuscript. The technical and artistic “recipes” contained in Ms. Fr. 640 provide an opportunity to explore the meanings and conceptualization of making and materials in the sixteenth century, and shed light on the type of knowledge possessed by handworkers, why their knowledge was of such interest to a literate audience, and how the work of making was related to knowing.
Pamela H. Smith, Seth Low Professor of History and Director of the Center for Science and Society at Columbia University, is author of The Business of Alchemy (1994), The Body of the Artisan (2004), and From Lived Experience to the Written Word: Reconstructing Practical Knowledge in the Early Modern World (2022). Editor of several volumes on the history of practice, embodied knowledge, and material culture, she now directs a collaborative initiative The Making and Knowing Project that released Secrets of Craft and Nature in Renaissance France: A Digital Critical Edition and English Translation of BnF Ms. Fr. 640 in 2020.
Register : https://u-paris.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUpfu6tpjooE9VieNZ89-jYeNPofhd2IzYw
- Tuesday December 13th 5.30-6.30 CET Martin George (Université Paris Cité)
“Follow the Instructions”: Materialities of Voice in Participation Poetry and Early Meditation Recordings.
In recent years, guided meditation recordings have become an increasingly popular tool in the ever-expanding arsenal of wellness routines marketed as an antidote to the materialism of Western culture. Yet primitive instances of such recordings date as far back as the 1950s and 1960s, branching from a then-fledgling market of instructional LPs offering crash courses in every field from ballroom dances to ventriloquism. Explicitly performative, and availing themselves of the assertive properties of the acousmatic voice, those early meditation records promised to turn their voiced instructions into supposedly transformational physical responses. In my talk, I will discuss those cultural artifacts in relation to the “participation” poetry of John Giorno, a poet whose use of borrowed language and manipulation of sound recording technologies explore the same interaction of voice and materiality and question the locus of reference and action of the poem through its ambiguous instructional content.
Martin George is a PhD student at Université Paris Cité. He is writing his dissertation on the New York poet John Giorno in relation to performance poetry, queer writing, and to New York’s artistic, musical and political scenes from the 1960s to the present day.
Tuesday January 24th 5.30-6.30 CET Dr. Aude de Mézerac-Zanetti (University of Lille)
“Books talking back: interpreting manuscript alterations in English liturgical books used under Henry VIII”
In breaking away from Rome in the early 1530s, Henry VIII brought about one of the most distinctive features of the English Reformation : the royal supremacy. This ecclesiological and adminstrative revolution entailed a few changes to the liturgy used daily in the parish churches of the realm. Virtually no new liturgical books were published between 1534 and 1547 and the clergy were instructed to “reform” their books to render the prayers there were using consistent with the royal supremacy. A close examination of these alterations showcases the degree to which the royal supremacy was gradually worked out “on the page”, revealing diachronic evolutions and an expected degree of lay involvement in enforcing liturgical change. I wish to argue that these alterations may be intepreted as badges of obedience to be displayed on inspection and hence suggest that these books accrued a function beyond that of ensuring proper liturgical performance. Reading alterations in their political context allows for a much richer understanding of the stakes at play when “reforming” service books.
Aude de Mézerac-Zanetti is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lille. Her work is mainly focussed on religious change under the Tudors. She has published in French and in English on the matter of liturgical change under the reign of Henry VIII, on the Book of Common Prayer and on the historiography of the English Reformation.
Tuesday February 14th 5.30-6.30 CET Prof. John Styles (University of Hertfordshire / V&A/RCA)
John Holker’s Book of Textile Swatches: Between Text and Materiality
Tuesday March 21st 5.30-6.30 CET Catherine Sutherland (Deputy Librarian Magdalen College, Cambridge)
The Identification of Mary Astell’s Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge
This paper introduces the recent identification of Mary Astell’s personal collection of books in the Old Library of Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK. The methodology used to identify the books will be outlined, followed by illustrations of material evidence in the volumes, which illuminate Astell’s methods of book acquisition, her network of friends and associates and her working methods.
This paper is based on research carried out for a forthcoming article in The Library: the Transactions of the Bibliographical Society. There are several exciting avenues for further research into Mary Astell’s books, and both this paper and the journal article seek to invite academics from a wide range of disciplines to collaborate in this research. One such avenue pertinent to this particular conference is Astell’s interaction with texts in French, chiefly by René Descartes and Nicolas Malebranche. This paper will illustrate examples of some of these books, which are the most heavily annotated in the collection.
Tuesday April 18th 5.30-6.30 CET Dr Lauren Working (University of York)
Bacchus’ New Muse: Jacobean Wit Sociability and the Material Culture of Wine and Tobacco
In the late sixteenth century, a drug first smoked by Indigenous Americans and produced by enslaved labourers came to find a place in gentlemanly drinking culture. This paper uses material culture and poetry to explore the connection between empire and English self-fashioning in London, focusing on the moment of tobacco’s incorporation into elite wit sociability. Tobacco and wine were seen as apt (if at times competing) companions: in a poem from the 1610s, Bacchus conducted a drunken romp across America to source ‘the Indian herb’, while Bacchus and ‘Kiwasha’, a reference to an Algonquian spirit-being, vied for attention in a 1614 court masque. In exploring tobacco poetry, wine glasses, and other ‘cultural artefacts’ of intoxication in metropolitan sociability, this paper brings the social dynamics of consumption into wider discussions about empire and taste, arguing for the importance of both Bacchus and Kiwasha in how gentlemen identified with and endorsed colonial projects.
Lauren Working is a lecturer in Renaissance Studies at the University of York. Her research explores how English colonialism influenced taste and politics in early modern London. She is a consultant for the National Portrait Gallery, and a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker.