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Early Books Lecture VIII

Date: January 24, 2011

Contact: VerĂ³nica Reyes-Escudero


Talks ponder poetry, faith and games in University Libraries’ medieval texts

The University Libraries Special Collections hosts Early Books Lecture VIII, an annual exploration throughout February by University of Arizona (UA) scholars of the treasure trove of medieval texts held by the University Libraries. Professors from UA’s German, English and History departments will give their audiences new insights into 13th, 16th and 17th century historic texts.

Two lectures will be held in the evening and one in the afternoon in Special Collections at the Main Library, 1510 University Blvd. The schedule for the eighth year of the lecture series is:

Lecture 1: February 8, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
"The Manessische Liederhandschrift – The Glory of Thirteenth-Century Book Illustrations in Southern Germany" with Albrecht Classen, Professor, UA Department of German Studies

The apogee of medieval German courtly poetry was reached around 1200, representing an astounding level of poetic maturity, sophistication, and rhetorical skills. But soon thereafter conditions changed, the value system transformed, or got lost, and traditional ideals were no longer maintained the same way. By the early fourteenth century a group of wealthy Zurich patrons realized that that glorious corpus of German courtly love poetry was in danger of being lost, so they dedicated much money and time to the copying of those songs. The most important manuscript, the Manesse manuscript, contains a huge treasure of the most valuable Middle High German love poetry, accompanied by stunning imaginary illustrations of the poets. A disproportionately large number of modern studies on the Middle Ages has drawn from this manuscript, and it is one of the most important national treasures of Germany today. Professor Albrecht Classen will introduce and discuss the invaluable facsimile of this manuscript kept in Special Collections, and offer the relevant social-historical context.

Lecture 2: February 15, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 
"The Thrice Great Hermes: The First English Translation of Writings Attributed to an Egyptian God (1657)" with Thomas Willard, Professor, UA Department of English

Professor Thomas Willard will explore writings attributed to “the Egyptian Hermes” that were brought to Europe during the Italian Renaissance and were gradually translated into all the major languages. The first English translation promoted the already contested view that they were older than the five books of Moses and showed similarities between Christianity and the religion of ancient Egypt.

Lecture 3: February 22, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
"The Golf Book: Playing and Praying in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe" with Paul Milliman, Professor, UA Department of History

Professor Paul Milliman will analyze the "Golf Book," a sixteenth-century book of hours which depicts games and pastimes.  Milliman will talk about the early history of some of these activities--hunting, jousting, and of course golf, to name a few--and examine why illustrations of these activities figure so prominently in a prayer book.