|Speakers:||John H. Arnold, Department of History, Classics & Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London|
Jeffrey J. Cohen, Department of English, George Washington University, Washington, DC
Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis. In contrast to previous years there will be no tickets for the event. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment (the room will open 15 minutes before the beginning of the lecture). In addition to the lecture there will be a video relay in the Headingley Room where the same rule applies.
Abstract ‘Heresies and Rhetorics’:
Historians of heresy, from antiquity to the late Middle Ages, have in recent years taken a ‘rhetorical turn’. The interpretative shift has not consciously been a collective decision, and for each sub-field of study the impetus and implications have, of course, varied. Nonetheless, we are now accustomed to scholarship which views ‘heresy’ as a linguistic construction of orthodoxy. This insight has prompted some subtle and alluring attempts to read ‘through’ the orthodox sources, to an ‘unveiled’ lived reality of dissent; and the construction of heresy as ‘other’ has informed important discussions about the production of orthodox hegemony. However, it can be argued that orthodox rhetoric itself, whilst central to these interpretations, has paradoxically been taken somewhat for granted. It is frequently assumed to be a unified discourse, authoritative and centralising, automatically possessing considerable influence within the social as well as textual realm. This paper will discuss certain aspects of writings against heresy across the medieval period, and will argue that we need to be attuned to the different contexts, modes, and rhetorics in which ‘heresy’ is textually produced, in order to understand better the varying nature of both heretical and orthodox construction.
Abstract ‘Between Christians and Jews’:
Though possible for ‘Jew’ to function as a synonym for ‘heretic’, Jews were usually seen as temporally other to Christians. Yet Ashkenazic Jewish communities cohabitated with urban Christians, becoming a community intimately involved in deliberation over belief. This paper examines what happens in the lived spaces between Christians and Jews, where there existed a potential for amity as well as complexity within hostility. The Jews of medieval England are so troubling to Christian orthodoxy, I will argue, for their very modernity.