In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the UC Berkeley Program in Medieval Studies will hold two sessions on enduring medieval scholarship that emerged in the postwar era:
Post-War Scholarship and the Study of the Middle Ages I: Hannah Arendt
Post-War Scholarship and the Study of the Middle Ages II: Ernst Robert Curtius
These sessions are an extension of the series we began at the last conference, with panels on Auerbach and Kantorowicz. Each session will examine one of the major intellectual figures of the period, considered in light of their own contemporary moments and their lasting influence in our own.
The first session will be dedicated to the work of Hannah Arendt and the second to Ernst Robert Curtius. Each of these scholars has contributed to our understanding of the Middle Ages and to the methodologies we use in our studies–literary, historical, philological, political. “The book of nature” and “political authority” have become commonplace concepts, which carry particular meanings precisely because of the work done by these thinkers. Their work has also helped the Middle Ages to remain in the peripheral vision of those scholars working in other and later fields. For instance, Arendt’s work on love as a foundation for community (derived from Augustine) continues to shape her reception in recent work by J. M. Bernstein, Wendy Brown, and Judith Butler. Curtius’s topoi are omnipresent. Yet despite the foundational influence that these thinkers have had in our field (and others), no panel in the history of the Medieval Congress has been dedicated to Arendt, only two panels have been dedicated to Curtius (in 1983 and 1995). Nevertheless, as citations of their work by medievalists have declined steadily since the 1980s, their ideas have become ever more ingrained in scholarly assumptions about the Middle Ages.
It is time now to revisit these ideas and directly address the intellectual contexts in which they were formed. These panels welcome papers that address any aspect of the Middle Ages in the work of either Arendt or Curtius or how their work on the Middle Ages influences later thinkers.
Please send abstracts of 500 words for either panel to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline: September 15th.