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Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Event Archive

CANCELLED 'Thomas Browne and the Silent Text.'

It is with regret that we have had to cancel this event due to unforeseen circumstances.

Thank you and apologies to everyone that had signed up to attend.

Abstract: What, if anything, does the silence of a text mean? Throughout his writings, Thomas Browne grapples with the logical and hermeneutic dilemma of how to interpret -- and, indeed, whether to interpret -- the absence of textual evidence: what it might mean, for instance, that Galen nowhere mentions unicorn's horn, that Herodotus makes no reference to Rome, that the scriptures remain silent on a variety of subjects ranging from the creation of minerals to the childhood of Christ. This talk will explore Browne's polyvalent fascination with the problem of arguments from silence and will then use his attentiveness to this problem to propose new interpretations of his Pseudodoxia Epidemica and other writings.

Jessica Wolfe is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill and currently director of the Program in Comparative Literature. She is the author of Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes (Toronto, 2015) and Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature (Cambridge, 2004), as well as numerous articles and essays on writers including Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Erasmus, and George Chapman. With Kevin Killeen, she is co-editor of Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica, vols. 2 and 3 of a new Complete Works of Thomas Browne to be published by Oxford UP.

Contact admin.imems@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.