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Session 4: Graduate Student Roundtable (New Media and Dissent)

Monday, December 3, 2012
5:00 p.m.
Room 107 O’Shaughnessy Hall



Richard Oosterhoff

(2012-2013 NDIAS Graduate Fellow, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame)

Printing Dissent in Lyons

The Case of Symphorien Champier

Print shops were at first conservative institutions: printing practices were profoundly about imitation, and printers catered to existing markets. Early authors who wanted to dissent from the establishment, therefore, often sought print platforms outside of cultural capitals such as Paris. This talk will consider the case of the fiery Neoplatonic physician Symphorien Champier (1471-1538), who set up practice in Lyons as a base for philosophical and print piracy.


Emily Ransom

(Department of English, University of Notre Dame)

The Polemical Press

Thomas More, Brixius, and Early Print Rivalry

It was a normal season of Renaissance polemic: in August of 1512, British and French ships burned in a mutually fatal naval battle; in November of 1512, the young French court poet Brixius wrote a heroic poem to commemorate the French general; in early 1513, the young British statesman Thomas More wrote a handful of epigrams to mock the faux epic; and by 1514, the French and English were at peace again. The story would end here if it were not for the Basel printing press of Johann Froben, which inadvertently rekindled the old scuffle into a raging literary war six years after the French and English ships burned at sea. In the rapidly escalating international battle of wits that ensued, the press intensified and hastened disputes over great distances. Printed text implied a (somewhat false) sense of authorial authority while ironically diminishing the author’s control over his own words.


Maggie Nerio

(Department of English, University of Notre Dame)

Reformist Autobiography

Harriet Martineau’s Character Studies of the “Serious” and “Earnest”

Begun in 1855 and published posthumously in 1877, Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography is one of the crowning achievements of Victorian autobiography and one of the most remarkable texts in the history of women’s literature in the Anglo-American tradition. A hybrid text, the Autobiography functions chiefly as a bildungsroman tracing Martineau’s development in stages from fervent Christian believer, to skeptic, and finally to confirmed rationalist committed to the post-theist logic of the French social reformer and proto-sociologist Auguste Comte. This talk will examine Martineau’s literary legacy and critical reception, arguing that Martineau has been unfairly maligned as a mediocre prose stylist and conventional champion of Victorian middle class convictions. Turning attention in a series of close readings to Comte’s theoretical influence on Martineau and then to the Autobiography itself, the talk will highlight the literary merits of the inclusive public discourse developed in the pages of Martineau’s sweeping memoir. As one powerful reminder of the ethical social discourse advanced over the course of Martineau’s prolific writing life, the Autobiography showcases the extent to which one “little deaf woman from Norwich” powerfully shaped the character of early-nineteenth-century Anglo-American print journalism, effectively promoting and modeling a pioneering form of transnational public deliberation.


Ana Velitchkova

(Department of Sociology, University of Notre Dame)

Transnational Communication through the Iron Curtain and Modernity in State-Socialist Eastern Europe

The Cold War was a period of great hegemonic struggle. The so-called Iron Curtain divided people into two warring camps, an eastern one and a western one. Yet, communication between the East and the West was never completely severed. Despite multiple difficulties, ordinary Eastern Europeans were able to continue their civic relations with people in the West. How was this possible? I find that East-West transnational communication was maintained throughout the Cold War with the help of an idealist invention of the late 19th Century, the constructed international language Esperanto. A diverse movement grew around the language to promote international peace and understanding. The Esperanto movement attracted members primarily among Eastern European non-ruling professional and cultural elites, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, writers, etc. The movement developed a multi-level organizational infrastructure including local clubs, national and international organizations, and a well-organized public and private correspondence system. Under the umbrella of Esperanto, ideas of peace, human rights, environmentalism, and cultural exchange, as well as various religious practices could spread throughout Eastern Europe. Because of transnational contacts, the models of modernity Eastern Europeans developed included not only elements of the Marxist tradition and a local ethics of universal civil-ness as fellowship but also global cultural models, particularly the social, economic, and cultural right norms.

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