Binding the World, Withholding Life: Poetry Books in the Medieval Mediterranean

The event is hybrid. Register via Eventbrite for online attendance. Online registration closes 2 hours before the start of the event. You will be sent the joining link within 24 hours of the event, 2 hours before and once again 15 minutes before the event starts. For the registration, see the link below.

Is transmitting a poem the same as transmitting any other text, or are poems like flowers, the transport of which could fatally harm their petals and waste their inner life away? When poems travel across the ages, they must be cushioned from the blows of time. This workshop explores how poems were transmitted in the Middle Ages, and, in particular, how they were ‘stored’ inside poetry books.

While nowadays writing a poetic book or compiling an anthology implies a negotiation with established traditions and criteria, the reasons behind this process in the Middle Ages may not be that apparent and still largely lie unexplored. Were they striving to gather world-embracing poetic encyclopaedias, or were they perhaps led by their individual rationales or shared narrative structures? The broader question is what ideas of medieval poetry and poetry books we can glean from these sources, where medieval poetry is transmitted and its life withheld.

We take a comparative approach; each speaker focuses on a literary tradition that flourished around the Medieval Mediterranean. Our invited speakers are Marisa Galvez (Stanford University) for Romance Languages, Niels Gaul (University of Edinburgh) for Greek, Marlé Hammond (SOAS) for Arabic and Adriano Russo (École française de Rome) for Latin.