Professor Alexander Broadie FRSE
Personifications of Old Age in Medieval PoetryAudio
Sir Israel Gollancz Memorial Lecture, delivered by Professor Ad Putter, on 21 October 2010 (venue: University of Bristol). This lecture was repeated on 17 November 2010, as part of the British Academy's 'Medieval Week'. Medieval poets were fond of personification allegory for reasons that modern readers do not always find easy to appreciate. This lecture explores some of the advantages of the allegorical mode by focusing on personifications of Old Age in some of the finest medieval English and French poets: John Gower, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland and Charles d’Orléans. Each poet in his own way shows why Old Age is suited to personification. Growing old may be a gradual process objectively, but writers from all periods confirm the subjective experience that medieval allegories bring to life, i.e. psychologically, the awareness that we have aged takes us by surprise. These personifications of Old Age are also sensitive to the social dimension of ageing, to its indignities and humiliations. By imagining Old Age as a person with whom we have to interact socially, medieval poets were able to capture the bewilderments and embarrassments of the ageing process.
Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West (c.700-1200)
Professor Julia M.H. Smith summarises the arguments she presented in her 2010 Raleigh Lecture. Her Raleigh Lecture on History was delivered in Edinburgh on 15 November 2010, as part of the British Academy Medieval Week.
The past as propaganda: The Mongol ‘World History’Audio
Aspects of Art Lecture, delivered by Professor Robert Hillenbrand FBA FRSE, 18 November 2010 (venue: Royal Society of Edinburgh), as part of the British Academy's ‘Medieval Week’. The fragmentary copy of Rashid al-Din’s World History held in the University of Edinburgh’s Library is of extreme rarity, huge size, lavish illustration and very early date (1314). It is perhaps the world’s most valuable illustrated Islamic manuscript. This lecture will explore its art-historical significance, highlighting its multiracial and multi-confessional flavour, with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and shamanistic elements that aptly reflect the largest continuous land empire in world history. The manuscript’s pictorial and textual cycles of Biblical figures, the Prophet Muhammad and the mythical past of Greece, Arabia and Iran break new ground, while its propagandist intent finds expression in courtly and battle scenes galore.