Department of English


''What's in a Word? 'Fede' and Its Doubles between Machiavelli and Luther''

Tue, November 13, 2007 | Texas Governor's Room (Texas Union 3.116)

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Professor Ascoli describes his lecture as follows: “The polysemous word-concept, ''faith,'' usually studied in its separate religious, moral, political, economic, legal textual, and other acceptations, constitutes an unusually potent means for examining the subtending ideological structures of early modern Italy, and of European culture more generally, as well as the transformative pressures on these during the sixteenth century. ‘Fede’ is at once the name given to blind trust in unprovable truth and to blind commitment in institutional and personal relationships. It is, in other words, the name explicitly given in this period to the general principle that once shapes the social order, binding individuals to and within it, and effaces what lies, unseen and unsaid, beneath it.”

Professor Ascoli is Terrill Distinguished Professor of Italian at the University of California, Berkeley. Ascoli, who received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, studies medieval and early modern culture from the 13th to the 16th centuries, especially in the Italian context. His teaching and research interests include the relations between literary form and history; intertwined configurations of authorship and readership; the construction of Italian national identity from the Renaissance to the Risorgimento; literary politics of gender; and Dante, Machiavelli, and Ariosto. His point of departure is the close, historically and culturally informed, reading of texts, literary and other; these readings, however, frequently give rise to methodological and/or theoretical interrogation of critical practice.Â

His recent published works include Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento (edited, with Krystyna Von Henneberg, Berg Press, 2001), and a series of publications on Dante's evolving conceptions of authorship and authority. His book Dante and the Making of a Modern Author is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Professor Albert Russell will speak on the concept 'Fede,' or faith, in Renaissance context.

Sponsor: Department of English, Department of Italian, Medieval Studies and the Program in Comparative Literature

Speaker: Albert Ascoli(University of California, Berkeley)

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