William Matthews Lecture 2017

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, B01
Booking details: Free entry; booking required

William Matthews Lecture 2017

At Sea in the Middle Ages: Noah's Ark and Life During Climate Change

This lecture explores the enduring invitation to the imagination extended by the biblical story of Noah and his ark. This foundational narrative of survival and community during a time of profound climate change offered medieval writers, thinkers and illustrators the opportunity to contemplate divine justice and interspecies community - as well as the gaps in the archive conveying the distant past. Medieval versions of the ark were often full of stowaways, subplots, and dissent. The exclusionary nature of the floating refuge spurred a lingering artistic gaze upon those left to the vessel's exterior, offering some powerful possibilities for sympathy and refuge as the waters rise.

This is an hour long lecture, followed by a reception.

Registration is free, but places are limited, so booking is essential

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is Professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. His research examines strange and beautiful things that challenge the imagination, phenomena that seem alien and intimate at once. He is especially interested in what monsters, the foreign, the queer, inhuman forces, and objects that won't stay put reveal about the cultures that dream, fear and desire them. Cohen is widely published in the fields of medieval studies, monster theory, posthumanism and ecocriticism. His book Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman won the René Wellek Prize in Comparative Literature (2017).

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