Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday November 7: Medieval and Renaissance Studies Event

Please join the Pittsburgh Medieval & Renaissance Colloquium and the Silver Eye Gallery on Friday, November 7th for "Hearsay: On the Universal Languages of Nature" with Rosamond Purcell and Michael Witmore, 4:30 p.m. at Carnegie Mellon University’s Irwin Steinberg Auditorium, Baker Hall A53.

Photographer and essayist Rosamond Purcell has led a distinguished career photographing and writing about natural wonders, curiosities, and collections in museums of natural history. In this joint dialogue with Renaissance scholar Michael Witmore, Purcell will present a number of images from past and recent work that depict objects which seem to carry with them stories for which there is no origin: occasions for hearsay, one might say. A recurring theme in their discussion will be the ways in which objects taken from nature -- fossils, bones, figured stones -- possess morphological features that are strangely suggestive of language -- an idea that has since at least the Middle Ages led some commentators to seek a universal language in the "Book of Nature." The presentation will also include photographs of human-made objects that seem to participate in this larger world of signs.

Rosamond Purcell is a world-renowned artist who has photographed behind the scenes in the collections of major museums for more than twenty-five years. Michael Witmore is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in Renaissance studies. He was formerly a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University and the director of the Pittsburgh Medieval and Renaissance Consortium. His book, Culture of Accidents: Unexpected Knowledges in Early Modern England (co-winner of Perkins Prize for Narrative, 2003), explored the ways in which narrative depictions of "accidental events" allowed them to serve as moments of discovery around the turn of the seventeenth century.

You can download a copy of the event poster at the Consortium's website:
For further information, please contact Allyson Creasman at

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner