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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Hermes' Wondrous Invention: Writing as Marvel in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.

16th March 2012, 18:00 to 19:30, PG21, Pemberton Rooms, Palace Green , Prof Walter Stephens, Charles S. Singleton Professor of Italian Studies, John Hopkins University

Although we seldom pay attention to the act and the art of writing, our nonchalance is relatively new. But in former ages, wonder was the emotion most often invoked by those who meditated on writing. Modern histories of writing have carefully traced what humans have done with writing, but what people thought about it in former ages remains largely unexplored. This talk will trace key moments and aspects of the emotional history of writing.

Walter Stephens took PhD's in Comparative Literature at Cornell University and in History of Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. His major books are on Rabelais and Renaissance nationalism ('Giants in Those Days', 1989) and the Renaissance theory of witchcraft ('Demon Lovers', 2002). Before moving to John Hopkins, Walter taught at Dartmouth and the University of Washington, Seattle. This talk describes an aspect of the book he is working on at Durham, 'It Is Written: The Mystique of Books from Babylon to Modern Times'.

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