& abstracts


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Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

2006-2007 Schedule & Abstracts

All sessions to be held on Mondays in the Lilly Library Lounge at 4 p.m., unless otherwise noted.

February 19:
Richard Nash (Department of English, Indiana University, Bloomington)

One of the most vital persistences of eighteenth-century English culture in contemporary life is thoroughbred horse racing, "the sport of Kings." At the heart of this global, billion dollar industry is an animal that boasts a carefully recorded pedigree that can be traced back through dozens of generations to one of three so-called "foundation sires": The Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian or the Godolphin Barb.

That particular story of origins was institutionalized in a multi-volume work, first proposed by James Weatherby in 1773, the General Stud Book; the first edition of the GSB, vol. 1 appeared twenty years later. In a very real sense, the publication of that book marked a critical transition point: wherever racehorses had come from before its publication, after the publication of the GSB, a "thoroughbred" came to be defined as a horse whose descent could be traced on the side of both sire and dam to animals in the Stud Book.

But thoroughbreds are, of course, animals with personal histories implicated in the ongoing processes of global political and cultural exchange during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. And the General Stud Book was, in its original intention, an attempt to draw together in one general volume a series of disparate, private historical recordings of individual lineages. The material ways by which animal pedigree began to be recorded in England in the eighteenth century were various and unsystematic. As a result, the "pre-history" of the General Stud Book provides a fascinating glimpse of how facets of eighteenth century popular culture were drawn together and institutionalized in the form of a book, which consolidated what had been originally a dynamic and volatile process. While seventeenth century breeding theory sought out the blood of hot climates in pursuit of "hybrid vigor," the publication of the General Stud Book reversed that original aim in the interests of policing a documented purity.

This paper will explore the manner in which the various ways of recording animal pedigree served the larger cultural purposes of a change in the ways Englishness came to be perceived during the eighteenth century.

RICHARD NASH is Professor of English at Indiana University, Bloomington where he has taught since 1986. He is author of WILD ENLIGHTENMENT: THE BORDERS OF HUMAN IDENTITY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY (University of Virginia Press, 2003) which was awarded that press's Walker Cowen Book Prize. He has written extensively on Swift, on satire, and on the human perception of animals (and the animal perception of humans) and is president-elect of the national Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

March 5:
Kathleen Myers (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Indiana University, Bloomington)

Fernández de Oviedo's massive General and Natural History of the Indies was the first of its kind. Chosen by Charles I to serve as his official, on-site royal chronicler of the Indies (the Spanish term used for America in the sixteenth century), Oviedo mapped the first fifty years of the discovery, conquest and colonization of Spanish America. The History spans the geographical area from present-day California to Patagonia and includes early ethnography, the first extensive European drawings of American flora and fauna, and information based on the reports of all the important conquistadors (many of these reports are now lost). Early versions of Oviedo's history were published in 1524 and 1535, and were quickly translated and incorporated into other works written about the New World. In subsequent centuries the History was quoted by such figures as Vico, Humboldt, and Pablo Neruda. Although considered the most comprehensive account of the Spanish conquest of America in the first half of the sixteenth century, the full impact of Oviedo's work has not been available to readers. First, his entire fifty-book history was not published until the mid-nineteenth century.

Second, this edition and subsequent editions have never published the entire collection of Oviedo's field drawings. Last, these editions rarely point out the complicated process of composition and revision that Oviedo employed over the course of the decades that he wrote. My talk will be based on studies and conclusions about these processes of composition and publication found in my forthcoming book, FernŠndez de Oviedo's Chronicle of America: A New History for a New World (forthcoming, U. of Texas Press).

KATHLEEN MYERS is Professor of Spanish and Adjunct Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she has taught since receiving her PhD in 1986. She is author of Word from New Spain: The Spiritual Autobiography of Maria de San Josť (1656-1719) (Liverpool U. Press, 1993) and Neither Saints nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America (Oxford U. Press, 2003) and, with Amanda Powell, editor and translator of Maria de San Josť's spiritual diary, A Wild Country Out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun (Indiana U. Press, 1999), for which the translators received an NEH translation grant. She is the recipient as well of grants from the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library, and Spain's Ministry for Education and Science and has been called by one reviewer a pioneer in English-language criticism of colonial women writers.

March 19:
Robert Schneider (Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington )
(This Session Meets 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.)

This paper, part of a larger study on intellectuals and writers in the age of Richelieu, focuses on a notoriously unsuccessful literary publication by one of the leading men of letters of the early seventeenth century. In 1655, Jean Chapelain published his long-awaited epic poem, La Pucelle, ou France delivrée. Although it was published twelve years after Richelieu's death, it belongs to the cultural moment of the cardinal's ministerial reign, for it had been a work-in-progress for twenty years, discussed and read in manuscript by the contemporary literati who shared Chapelain's commitment to fashion a truly French vernacular literature that could rival the ancients and surpass the Italians. Though quickly judged a failure, Chapelain's epic was conceived in magisterial terms-as the French Aeneid. In this paper I will discuss Chapelain's recounting of the story of Joan of Arc as an attempt to create a national myth in contemporary literary terms, terms that both reveal and disguise the tensions and problems inherent in forcing "literature" to achieve such politically inflected cultural ends.

ROBERT A. SCHNEIDER is Professor of History at Indiana University, Bloomington and Editor of the American Historical Review. He has held both these positions since 2005, after teaching for 15 years at Catholic University in Washington, D. C. He has written two books on Toulouse, Public Life in Toulouse, 1463-1789, From Municipal Republic to Cosmopolitan City (Cornell U. Press, 1989) and The Ceremonial City: Toulouse Observed, 1738-1780 (Princeton U. Press, 1995), and is editor of and contributor to two volumes of essays, one of them particularly emphasizing interdisciplinary perspectives on French history and literature. He is also somewhat of an expert on the subject of duels. He is the recipient of NEH and ACLS fellowships and in 1996-97 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

April 2:
David Hall (Harvard Divinity School)

Scribal publication--that is, the circulation of handwritten copies--has been an unremarked upon aspect of political and religious life in seventeenth-century New England. I describe situations in which this mode of publication played a critical role--for example, the Antinomian controversy--and the careers of major writers who did nearly all of their "publishing" in this manner.

DAVID D. HALL is Bartlett Professor of New England Church History at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 1989. He has written extensively on religion and society in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England and on the History of the Book in early America. His books include The Faithful Shepherd: A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century (U. of North Carolina Press, 1972), Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (Knopf, 1989; rpt. Harvard U. Press, 1990), and he has edited Jonathan Edwards's Ecclesiastical Writings (Vol. 12 of the Yale edition of the Works of Edwards, 1994) and has compiled two key collections of documents: The Antinomian Controversy of 1636-1638 and Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England, 1638-1693. Other publications include Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book (U. of Mass. Press, 1996) and he has co-edited, with Hugh Amory, The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World (American Antiquarian Society and Cambridge U. Press, 2000), which is the first volume in the projected five-volume History of the Book in America, of which he is General Editor. This February, Professor Hall gave the Rosenbach Lectures on Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania and his talk on Monday will draw upon material discussed in those lectures.

April 16:
Rosemary Lloyd (Department of French and Italian, Indiana University, Bloomington)

April 23:
Timothy Raylor (English Department, Carleton College)