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Early Book Lecture Series

Date: February 6, 2007

Contact: Bonnie Travers

Description: The Friends of the University Libraries will again sponsor the Early Book Lecture Series. Plan to attend each Tuesday evening in February 2007. Slated to begin at 6:30 pm in Special Collections, the four consecutive lectures will be given by University of Arizona expert faculty. Each lecture will last about one hour and will include an exhibit of rare books. Refreshments will be served.

On February 6, Dr. Albrecht Classen from the Department of German Studies and organizer of the series will present “The Evangeliary of Henry the Lion.” In 1983 the Saxon monastery of Helmarshausen fetched $11.7 million when it auctioned this illuminated “Gospel book of Henry the Lion.” The abbey’s reputation rested on the work of the illuminators and goldsmiths of its scriptorium. The lavish use of purple and gold and the rich adornments of the manuscript indicate that it was modeled after earlier Ottonian works known for their opulent miniatures. The work was commissioned by Henry the Lion and his wife Matilda, the daughter of King Henry II of England, and presented to the newly built cathedral at St. Blasius in Brunswick on the occasion of the consecration of the altar of St. Mary in 1188. Known as Codex Guelf 105, the original now resides in the Herzog August Library, in Wolfenbüttel It is considered one of the most precious illuminated manuscripts of the twelfth century.

February 13 will find Dr. Laura Hollengreen from the UA School of Architecture presenting “Fit for a Queen: The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux." This richly illustrated prayer book was presented by Charles IV of France to Jeanne d’Evreux, his fifteen-year-old cousin and third bride. She received it from the King sometime between the years 1320 and 1328. This tiny exquisite work of art was commissioned from the artists Jean Pucelle and contains two different cycles of prayers. Long famed for its inventive marginalia and decorative framing of the major images, the manuscript (now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) has recently been analyzed as a particularly focused tool for communicating Jeanne's duty to produce an heir to the throne.

On February 20, Dr. Fabian Alfie from UA’s Department of French and Italian will discuss the great epic written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321 in a lecture entitled "When Dante's 'Comedy' became 'Divine'". Often called the last great work of literature of the Middle Ages and the first great work of the Renaissance, we’ll learn how the adjective “Divine” was added to the title of the poem in the sixteenth century. While Dante may have been influenced by Islamic writings of the afterlife when composing his masterpiece, his allegory depicting the Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise has, in turn, influenced scores of writers and artists throughout the world. Don’t miss this presentation about the greatest literary work produced in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Last, but certainly not least, on February 27th Dr. Tom Willard of the English Department will present “"Early Modern Books of Alchemical Medicine." One of the most important names in the early Renaissance period is Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus. Born in Switzerland in 1493, Paracelsus, the son of a physician, became the “Luther of Medicine” during his lifetime. He was a practitioner who worked as a surgeon in a number of the mercenary armies that ravaged Europe in wars of the period. His major texts discuss surgery, wounds, ulcers, and their cure with salves and balms. After his death his writings influenced a growing cadre of followers, called Paracelsians, who found chemistry particularly important in the practice of medicine. Debates arose from the development of chemistry and its application to medical study throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Dr. Willard will introduce us to the early works that even today influence the basic idea and development of chemically produced medicines.

The University Libraries hope you can join us for an enriching hour each Tuesday in February 2007 beginning at 6:30 pm. Free parking will be available in the Cherry Street garage near Special Collections where the lectures will be held. We extend our sincere thanks to the Friends of the Libraries for sponsoring this event.