Departmental Research Seminar 2016-2017

Departmental Research Seminar 4pm – 5:15pm, Room TBD

Jennifer Morgan, Music of Mortality: The Use of Percussion Instruments in Danse Macabre Texts 

This short presentation, taken from one of the chapters of my dissertation, will discuss the relationship between musical instruments – specifically from the percussion family – and death in the genre of the danse macabre. These instruments, used to accompany a dance by turns gruesome and comical, help us explore medieval and early modern conceptions of death and reveal important nuances within the texts themselves.

Caitlin Schaer, How to Explain a Supernatural Illness: The Case of Tarantism in Southern Italy

The phenomenon known as Tarantism has affected parts of Southern Italy dating back to the 11th century. The mystic and bizarre nature of the illness generated a powerful myth that, thanks to its supernatural inclination, perhaps explains Tarantism and its unexplainable effects. This paper will explore the documentary film La taranta by Gianfranco Mingozzi treated Tarantism’s supernatural nature and its hysterical victims. Specifically, through a film analysis, my paper will re-arrange the borders that generally separate human and disease.

Anne Vila, Tips for Scholars from Dr. Tissot

First published in 1768 and substantially reedited in 1775, De la santé des gens de lettres by Dr. Samuel-Auguste Tissot was regarded by many Enlightenment-era scholars as the ‘breviary’ of gens de lettres. Why was this book so popular, and what does it tell us about eighteenth-century attitudes toward  gens de lettres and the work in which they engaged?  I will sketch answers to those questions while also summarizing Tissot’s advice on how to avoid falling victim to the ills of overstudy.


This year we will introduce one slight change: papers will be limited to 15 minutes, to leave us a little more time for discussion.

We would like invite you to present your work – especially advanced graduate students (e.g., dissertators, or students presenting a paper at a conference during the year) and academic staff and faculty.  English, French and Italian are all acceptable as languages for the talks.  Please contact us as soon as possible, so that we can reserve you a spot, even if you do not have an exact title yet.  Ideally we would like to have a mix Italian-French and graduate student-faculty presenters for each session.


This year, the graduate student organizers will be Lauren Surovi and Caitlin Schaer (, and I will continue to oversee the faculty side of things.  Please contact any one of us.