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Fellow Seminar

02 April 2020

Prof. Robert Appelbaum will present online via Zoom his research proposal on the topic: "The Renaissance Discovery of Violence, from Boccaccio to Shakespeare" on 2 April 2020 (Thursday) at 16:30h.


This presentation is actually a double introduction: It is an introduction, first, to the aesthetics of violence in general; that is, to what artists and creative writers do with violence when they represent it, and what we spectators and readers do with when we observe its representation. Although there is a burgeoning field of study among historians of the chronologies and genealogies of violence, among philosophers of art, literary critics and other aestheticians there is still a lot of uncertainty about what we talk about when we talk about representations of violence.

This presentation will secondly introduce the Renaissance in Italy, France, The Low Countries, England and Spain as a period when writers and visual artists increasingly came to shift the focus to the suffering subject, the victim of violence. That development was not straightforward, for impulses toward the glorification of (legitimate) violence were never entirely abandoned. And in some cases, like Shakespeare's Hamlet and Caravaggio's self-portrait, the subject is both active and passive, dominating and suffering, hero and victim. But this dual development correlates with what we know about the history of violence in this period.

Robert Appelbaum is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Uppsala University, Sweden, and Senior Professor in Arts and Communication at Malmö University, Sweden. A native New Yorker, he raised his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his PhD. from the University of California, Berkeley. His recent publications include Aguecheek's Beef, Belch's Hiccup and Other Gastronomic Interventions: Literature, Culture and Food Among the Early Moderns (2006); Dishing It Out: In Search of the Restaurant Experience (2011); Working the Aisles: A Life in Consumption (2014); Terrorism Before the Letter: Mythography and Political Violence in England, Scotland and France 1559-1642 (2015); and The Aesthetics of Violence: Art, Fiction, Drama and Film (2017). He has been a fellow of the Folger Foundation, The Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), The Leverhulme Foundation (UK), the British Academy and Swedish Research Council, among other organisations, as well a Researcher-in-Residence at several institutes for advanced study.




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