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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Figuring Futures Seminar - Honest Taste: the boudaries of ethics and aesthetics in the Middle Ages

23rd November 2010, 17:30, Prior's Hall, Durham Cathedral, Professor Mary Carruthers (New York University)

This is the sixth seminar in the Figuring Futures seminar series.

The seminar series 'Through a Glass Darkly' is the flagship event of the Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in its inaugural year, 2010-11. Two interlinked themes will be addressed: 'Time, Art and Memory'; and 'Cultural Scripts, Augury and Prophecy'.

The Series is focused in particular on cultural scripts: the writing of the future within the literary and historical texts of the past, and their material contexts. A recurrent emphasis is the relation between anxiety and creativity: calling the future into question can inspire enduring, even visionary, thought and writing. Medieval and Renaissance thought resonates in various and interesting ways with later cultural attitudes, and seminars are intended to provide a lively forum for dialogue and debate. The Series includes nine eminent speakers (from the UK, Europe and the US) whose work spans a range of disciplines - English, French and Norse literature, history, theology and religion, cultural studies and the history of ideas.

A common value of artistic style during the Middle Ages, Latin 'honestus' is closely related to the ethical concept of 'honour' and to the sensory phenomenon of 'taste'.  But what do honour and taste have to do with one another, especially in a medieval context?  This seminar will explore both connections as expressed in stylistic judgments concerning literature, architecture, and rhetoric.

Contact david.ashurst@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.