Margaret Butler, Thinking from Divas’ Lives: Celebrity and its Mechanisms in 18th-Century Italian Opera
Abstract: A seminal article entitled “Thinking from Women’s Lives” interrogated the experience of 17th-century Italian composer Francesca Caccini and the forces that shaped her musical activities. In this brief talk I offer an overview of my work in progress, in which I examine operatic celebrity in the late eighteenth century, asking similar questions about the mechanisms that led to the female Italian singer’s rise to prominence, and the emergence of the diva both as a concept and historical figure.
Ritt Deitz, A Shared Vocabulary
Abstract: Drawn from an essay I am finishing for a forthcoming book on the future of the humanities in graduate education, this short presentation will address the vocabulary we use, and that others use, to describe our work as humanist teacher-scholars in university departments of language and literature. What characterizes that vocabulary now, and how well does it communicate our place in what some have called the “humanities ecosystem”? How can closer examination of that vocabulary help us understand the impact that other forces in that ecosystem, inside and outside universities, are having on our work as humanists?
Peter Russella, Mothers, Whores, and Summer Diamantis: Western Women in Maylis Kerangal’s Naissance d’un pont
Abstract: Maylis de Kerangal’s novel Naissance d’un pont (2010) is, in the author’s own words, a sort of western, an epic of the frontier. Kerangal transforms Coca, California into a modern-day boomtown when a French engineers are contracted to construct a bridge there bringing with them men and women from all over the world. In this study I would like to focus particularly on the archetypal portrayal of women in Kerangal’s novel through the lens of western genre fiction. This clichéd depiction separates women into three categories: mothers, whores, and women who are tougher than the men around them. While male characters can have an impact on the central epic of the western novel, female characters cannot. This presentation will first seek to establish to what extent Kerangal’s portrayal of women fits into the western genre before considering what it means to write a western, particularly from a French perspective, in the 21st century.