- Wednesday, November 10, 2021 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
We are pleased to announce that this year's Phyllis Rackin Lecture, titled "Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron: Feminist and Queer Returns," will be delivered by Professor Carla Freccero (University of California, Santa Cruz) via Zoom on Wednesday, November 10th, at 4:30 PM EST.
The Phyllis Rackin Lecture honors Phyllis Rackin, Professor Emerita of English at the University of Pennsylvania and a former President of the Shakespeare Association of America, for her groundbreaking work in the fields of both feminist scholarship and Early Modern studies. Her contributions to these fields, published in numerous anthologies and in such journals as PMLA, Shakespeare Quarterly, and Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, frequently investigate the role of women in early modern drama and society and examine the place of gender in constructions of history and the nation. She has also published four books: Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Tragedies, Stages of History: Shakespeare's English Chronicles, Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare's English Histories (which she wrote with Professor Jean Howard of Columbia University), and Shakespeare and Women. Her awards include an ACLS fellowship and a Lindback award for distinguished teaching. Carla Freccero, a distinguished professor of literature and the history of consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, has written articles on the topics of women's writing, premodern sexualities, and the queerness of temporality. This last topic, especially pertinent for this year's lecture, is explored in her 2006 book, Queer/Early/Modern; in this project, Professor Freccero challenges the altericist account of sexual identity inherited from Foucault's History of Sexuality, arguing instead that literary texts, by exposing the indeterminacy of subjectivity, can help us recognize how the early modern past, in its incompleteness, continues to haunt our "late modern" present. Her other books include Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais and Popular Culture. In addition, she has co-edited Premodern Sexualities, Species/Race/Sex, an American Quarterly special issue, and Animots, a Yale French Studies special issue. Her current book project, Animate Figures, explores the connections between nonhuman animals and figuration. Her work has been supported in part by the UC President's Fellowship and the University of California Humanities Research Institute. About her lecture, "Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron: Feminist and Queer Returns," Professor Freccero writes:
The Heptameron has been fruitful terrain for decades of Anglo-American feminist literary criticism interested in “retrieving” and reexamining women writers of the past, whether to understand textual inscription of the “feminine signature” (Nancy Miller) or to study the text's “roman à clef” as a version of women’s life writing in the 16th century (Patricia Cholakian). The Heptameron also offers, in story 10, a rare in-depth study of rape from what could be thought of as a feminine point of view, in many ways anticipating the discourses of the #MeToo movement. It is a text that is tantalizingly oblique on questions of sexuality and female pleasure, while also implicitly articulating a queer relation to sovereign power. In this talk I’m interested in revisiting The Heptameron for the ways it inscribes gendered sexuality and for its writerly response to preoccupations that continue to be relevant to 21st century queer feminist thinking.