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  • Monday, April 15, 2019 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

Please join us for this semester’s next meeting of the Workshop in the History of Material Texts on Monday, April 15. We will convene at our usual time and place: 5:15pm in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center on the 6th Floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

We will be welcoming Roger Chartier for a talk entitled: “The Book as Body, the Life as Editions: From Quevedo to Machado de Assis.” Roger writes:

Deixa lá dizer Pascal que o homem é um caniço pensante. Não; é uma errata pensante.” “Let Pascal say that man is a thinking reed. He is wrong; man is a thinking erratum.”  

Based on close reading of texts gathered in the hand-out, the seminar will be devoted to the literary and religious uses of two metaphors neglected by Curtius’ canonical European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages: the book as human creature, and life as a series of editions. Three clusters of texts will be taken into consideration. First, in Golden Age Spain, texts written by Quevedo, Cervantes, Melchor de Cabrera, and Alonso Víctor de Paredes made profit of the two meanings of the word cuerpo (as human body and as copies of an edition) for designating the double nature of the book and for presenting God as printer. Secondly, in early modern England and New England, numerous poems, eulogies and epitaphs described the afterlife as a perfect edition, amended and corrected by the Author. Franklin’s epitaph is only one of these texts, which were composed by poets (John Donne, Francis Quarles), by philosophers (Nathanael Culverwell), by ministers (Cotton Mather) or by and for printers (John Foster, James Watson). Finally, the two metaphors were associated by Machado de Assis in his novel, The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, published in 1880 as a feuilleton in Revista Brasileira and then as a book in three successive revised editions (1881, 1896, 1899). The seminar will articulate the cognitive power of the metaphors with their discursive, editorial and material inscription.

Roger Chartier is Annenberg Visting Professor in History at the University of Pennsylvania and Emeritus Professor at the Collège de France and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales. His forthcoming book Won in Translation is in the hands of the triumvirs of the Material Texts: it is currently being translated by John Pollack and it will be published in a series edited by Jerry Singerman and directed by Peter Stallybrass. 

All are welcome! Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.