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Historisches Seminar

On Losing One’s Senses: Swooning and Narrative Entropy 

Gastvortrag von Prof. Dr. Richard Newhauser, Arizona State University – Tempe 

What place is there in the sensorium in which Geoffrey Chaucer and other mainly fourteenth-century English writers participated for a temporary state in which, by fainting, the perceiving subject has no sense perception at all? Disability studies will help us understand how the insensate body has the potential to interact with cultural, historical, and literary values when shaping experience. Swooning is ubiquitous in medieval texts, signifying the extremes of emotion that cannot be overcome otherwise. Two important moments of fainting in Chaucer’s narrative of Troilus and Criseyde are similar to gaps in perception in other media: silence in the midst of a song, feeling in a limb that was amputated. These moments in Chaucer’s text come at junctures in which the story may be at the point of spinning out of control. Such narrative entropy reminds us of the fragile potentiality of our senses and all that depends on may happen next as a narrative continues to unfold. 

Wann: Di. 2.5.2023 von 18 bis 20 Uhr  
Raum: Hörsaal KAB-G-01 (Kantonsschulstrasse 3 8001 Zürich)