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  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Graduate Lounge (FBH 330) and Zoom hybrid

Our next meeting of the year will take place on Wednesday, October 20th at 4:30pm in Fisher-Bennett Hall, Room 330. This will be a hybrid event (more details below). We will be welcoming Professor Rita Copeland to discuss her forthcoming chapter, "Rhetoric, Poetics, Literary Theory, Aesthetics."


Professor Copeland writes:


"This is a chapter in volume 2 of a forthcoming series of which I’m General Editor, The Cambridge History of Rhetoric. The subject of this topical chapter was, in a sense, assigned to me.  I took this “assignment” as an opportunity to explore a problem that I had been turning over in my head for some time:  how do we recuperate the surface, and surface reading, on medieval terms? Modern readers are almost always disappointed by medieval rhetorical arts (especially the artes poetriae):  the artes don’t address depth, they don’t address ethical considerations, they say almost nothing about emotional response or responsibility, they don’t explain literary value, they seem to have nothing in common with high-end hermeneutics, and they are tediously technical.  What is at stake, then, in these arts and in their vast pedagogical influence?  Their interest lies in valuing the surface itself, the formal powers of style.  Here I explore how this particular aesthetic value opens the space of ethical interaction that they presume:  a cognitive, experiential, phenomenological (and thus social) dimension of form.  The surface is a complex place, and the medieval rhetorical arts (and the poetry informed by their work) do not lightly exchange the surface for other kinds of meaning.  The chapter ends by extending these problems to Ramon Llull, Dante, and Petrarch, especially reading Petrarch in terms of this decidedly medieval pedagogical formation."


Professor Copeland's paper is available via the Penn-Key protected link on the Premodern Studies website. We are also happy to make electronic copies available upon request. However, if you or someone you know would like a copy of Professor Copeland's paper and cannot access the paper via the website, please email me directly for a copy. Please do not ask other seminar attendees for a copy. 


If you would like to attend the event in person, you must wear a mask indoors. If you are not Penn-affiliated but would still like to attend the seminar in person, you are very welcome to do so. However, you must receive a Green pass from the PennOpenn Campus system. Here are the instructions for using the system:

  • Before arriving on campus, complete your vaccination, symptom, and exposure check at
  • You will receive a green pass when you report your fully vaccinated status, no symptoms, no recent contact with someone who may have COVID-19, and no recent positive test.
  • Show your green pass at the entrance to Fisher-Bennett Hall if asked by a security guard.

For those who cannot attend the seminar in person, but would like to do so virtually, please contact Matthew Aiello for the Zoom details