William Matthews Memorial Lecture: European Journeys, Medieval and Modern

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Date / time
Date(s) - 21 November
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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In 1981, Birkbeck received a bequest from the estate of the late Professor William Matthews for an annual lecture on either the English language or medieval English literature. The lectures alternate between these subjects, with the previous lecture speakers and titles available to view from here: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/annual-events/william-matthews-memorial-lectures

This years lecture will be given by Dr Marion Turner of Jesus College, Oxford.

Lecture Summary: ‘European Journeys, Medieval and Modern’

The medieval and modern are folded together in the institutions, places, and texts that surround us, intertwined in time and space. In this lecture I explore how Chaucer’s European journeys, literal and metaphorical, resonate across time; discussing how my own experiences of ‘footstepping’ – following Chaucer across Europe – helped me to comprehend his life and work. What do we learn about modern Europe from imagining medieval Europe, and how can we understand medieval Europe better with the benefit of hindsight? Why do we need to journey through landscapes to understand a life? Chaucer’s own understanding of the intimate connection between movement and storytelling is the foundation of his poetry; that connection is today foregrounded in, for instance, the Refugee Tales project. I’m going to talk about the politics and poetics of movement and the process of life-writing; with some of my examples focusing on Chaucer’s (and my) interest in women’s experiences of travelling and telling stories.This is an hour lecture, followed by a drinks reception.

Biography:Dr Marion Turner is Associate Professor in English at Oxford University, and a Tutorial Fellow of Jesus College. Her most recent book is Chaucer: A European Life, a biography of Chaucer published by Princeton University Press in April 2019. Other publications include Chaucerian Conflict (OUP, 2007) and, as editor, A Handbook of Middle English Studies (Wiley Blackwell, 2013). She is currently collaborating with educational arts charities and Creation Theatre company on creative reinterpretations of Chaucer’s poetry, including plays of the Canterbury Tales. Marion has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on her next book, an exploration of female storytelling across time, provisionally titled The Wife of Bath: A Biography.

Please note that while this event is free, booking is required.If you have any further questions, please get in touch by emailing events@bbk.ac.uk.

Location: Brewer & Smith Room, Mary Ward House, 7 Tavistock Place, Bloomsbury, London, London WC1H 9SN