'We live in the country of words,' wrote the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, in a poem that speaks to all people who are on the move, displaced from their homes for reasons of war, persecution, necessity. Can myths, legends, and stories provide alternative shelter, literary lieux de mémoire where a refugee, a migrant, or a wanderer might feel at home? Marina Warner will look at two mythic lost cities— Troy and Carthage—and explore their transmigrations in contemporary poetry and fiction. She will ask, with George Seferis: can literature be ‘strong enough to help’?
Professor Dame Marina Warner, FBA, is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London, Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and Professorial Research Fellow at SOAS. Her works include studies of mythography and fairy tales, with an emphasis on the part played by women, as well as novels, short stories, and criticism. Award-winning books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (l976), Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (l982), From the Beast to the Blonde (1994) and No Go the Bogeyman (1998). Her novels The Lost Father (l988) and The Leto Bundle (2000) were listed for the Booker prize. A collection of short stories, Fly Away Home, will be published in autumn 2015. She is the holder of honorary degrees from the University of Oxford, Exeter, York, and St. Andrew’s, among others. She is currently writing a memoir-cum-novel set in 1950s Cairo, where her father was a bookseller.
Respondant: Lorraine Daston Director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and Visiting Professor, Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago.
Lorraine Daston has published on a wide range of topics in the history of science, including the history of probability and statistics, wonders in early modern science, the emergence of the scientific fact, scientific models, objects of scientific inquiry, the moral authority of nature, and the history of scientific objectivity. She is the editor of Things that Talk. Object Lessons from Art and Science (2004) and co-editor of The Moral Authority of Nature (2004), Thinking with Animals: New Perspectives on Anthropomorphism (2005), and Histories of Scientific Observation (2011). She is currently completing a book on ‘Moral and Natural Orders.’
Moderator and Discussant: Mariët Westermann Vice President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; former Provost, NYU Abu Dhabi, and Director, NYU Institute of Fine Arts.
Mariët Westermann is responsible for programs in the Humanities, Arts and Cultural Heritage, and Diversity at the Mellon Foundation. Previously, she was the provost of New York University Abu Dhabi. At NYU, she was director of the Institute of Fine Arts. A historian of Netherlandish art, she is the author of A Worldly Art: The Dutch Republic 1585-1718 (1996), The Amusements of Jan Steen: Comic Painting in the 17th Century (1997), and Rembrandt (2000). Her current interests concern Dutch art in the global 17th century, and the Garden of Eden in the imagination of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Followed by: Panel discussion: Marina Warner, Lorraine Daston, Mariët Westermann
Close 1.45. Final remarks: Professor Ivar Bleiklie Director of the Holberg Prize secretariat
The Symposium is open for the general public. Free admission.