THE APOCALYPTIC IMAGINATION OF MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN ITALY
Thursday, February 13, 2014 • 5:00pm • Royce Hall Room 236
Speaker: Jessica Goethals
This talk considers the intersection of political-historical, religious, and literary discourses through the lens of prophetic texts. It demonstrates that medieval writers articulated an apocalyptic grammar often grounded in a contentious imperial-papal relationship and centered on the physical vulnerability of the Italian peninsula. In turn, early modern writers—as the inheritors of the medieval imaginary—responded to the actualization of this anticipated catastrophe as embodied by the wars of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries with a spurred interest in prophecy as the object of study, literary adaptation, and readerly spectatorship.
About Jessica Goethals: Jessica Goethals is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is writing a book provisionally entitled Catastrophe and Catharsis in Early Modern Rome: Representing the Sack of Rome and its Literary Aftermath. She received her PhD in medieval and Renaissance Italian literature from New York University and currently serves as the managing editor of I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance.
Mechanimalia: Humanity Within and Without the Animal Kingdom
UCLA Department of Italian Graduate Student Conference
January 17-18, 2014 ∙ Royce Hall 306 & 314
Conference program: click here
Keynote by: Professor Deborah Amberson, University of Florida
This conference seeks to investigate the ways in which Italian writers have confronted the question of "the animal" either as something outside and in opposition to humanity, or as something fundamental and inescapable in our nature. This conference will also investigate the relationship between animal and machine in Italian culture, and how the machine has sometimes taken the animal's place as our primary "other." How have some Italian and Italophone writers equated the machine to the animal, distinguished between them, or blurred the border between the human and the animal/machine? More importantly, how do we use these "others" to learn about ourselves?
The ancient Greeks and Romans constructed many of their fables and myths around animal types, types which have been re-appropriated and reevaluated by both Christian and secular thinkers throughout history. The animal may represent either the quintessential "other"—that is, everything that is non- and anti-human—or it may represent a distillation of our purest nature. According to Leonardo da Vinci, for example, man is merely "king of the beasts", that is, a more powerful beast than the rest. Vico's theory of the origin of civilization takes as a starting point the moment of transition from bestione (beast-man) to human. Throughout modernity, too, critics have been consumed with notions of animality and humanity, questioning the construction of their own corporality and spirituality in the face of vast technological advancements and the mass causalities of war. Theories of bio-politics have brought to light the way humans have used the border between what is human and what is animal in order to legitimize access to power, and within the matrix of power, to decide what is "animal" in the human and what is "human" in the animal in order to justify control over "others." Yet since the Industrial Revolution, machines have steadily been replacing animals in our daily lives and in our industrial processes. Animals, for example, no longer plow our fields or provide us with transportation. Consequently, machines have become a point of reference for humans in a way that animals no longer can. In light of the fading role of animals in society, how has technology changed the way in which humans relate to our minds and bodies? René Descartes all but equated animals to automatons, and held that, lacking in thought, they were machines that could not stand any comparison to humans. However, in the twenty-first century, the assimilation of technology into our lives has begun to corrode the boundaries between the "self" and "other" creating new possibilities for identity.
UCLA undergraduate recognized in two prestigious essay contests
Kelly Leow's essay, "'Come l'uom s'etterna': Poetry, Pride and Textile in the Divine Comedy," was recently selected as the winner of the 2013 Dante Prize for the best essay submitted by an undergraduate enrolled at a college or university in the United States or Canada.
The recognition comes on the heels of another recent award. Earlier this year, Kelly was awarded $500 for her work on Dante as recipient of first prize of the 2013 AATI College Essay Contest.
The UCLA Department of Italian extends congratulations to Kelly Leow and her mentor, Professor Andrea Moudarres, for this accomplishment.