Mar 22 2012 16:32
March 22, 2012 at 4 pm
7191 Helen C. White Hall
The Mellon workshop “Corpus: Premodern Books and Bodies” presents two short lectures:
Peter Bovenmyer, Department of Art History, UW-Madison
“Redemptive Operations: Configuring Surgery and Salvation in BL MS Sloane 1977”
One of the most vexing medical manuscripts produced in the Middle Ages is the impressive 14th century illuminated Chirurgia of Roger Frugard (BL MS Sloane 1977). Consisting of both Christological scenes and illustrated surgical treatments, the images within this manuscript create a bizarre abutment of elevating sacred subject matter and vulgar surgical procedures. To date, the relationship between these sacred and surgical images has received only cursory attention or been outright ignored. This project takes seriously the manuscript’s insistence that seemingly disparate images, such as Easter scenes and treatments for anal diseases, inform and interpret one another. Remaining attentive to the compelling formal parallels, this paper examines three folios from the treatise and proposes that the surgical-salvific juxtapositions on each page marshal both medical and theological concepts to promote the skill and authority of the surgeon. It proposes that the treatise is not a series of isolated illustrations but rather an expansive constellation of bodies—pure and polluted, sinful and sanctified–which complicate our understanding of surgery and salvation in the Middle Ages.
Nancy Simpson Younger, Department of English, UW-Madison
"Virtues, Words, and Deeds: Confronting the Vulnerable Other in Lyly's Endymion"
As David Bevington points out, the play Endymion is about a "contemplative man"—the title character—who is "finally subsumed into the complete courtier." Still, there has been little direct analysis of what it means to become a "complete courtier" in the world of Endymion, or what the play is trying to say about the ethics of contemplation and action in a courtly community setting. In this paper, I will address these topics, arguing that a courtier's ethical virtue results from the ability to combine contemplation and action, and then to deploy both in the service of the physically vulnerable Other. To make this argument, I will examine the way that characters interact with the perpetually sleeping body of Endymion--a philosopher and courtier who serves the moon goddess Cynthia. Because of its vulnerability, the presence of Endymion's body on stage raises ethical questions for the rest of the community. To what extent does the body remain part of society at large? Should it be protected, moved, or abandoned? Should his peers (or subordinates, or leaders) make personal sacrifices in an attempt to 'cure' his sleep? By exploring these questions, I will show that Endymion develops a system of individual and community ethics that is founded on the ideal of reciprocal self-sacrifice. In this system, words, contemplative thoughts, and active deeds become synonymous, and the ethical courtier uses each of these elements to actively support more vulnerable community members.
Click here for the event flyer.