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English department presents seminar on renaissance poetry

Loyola press release - March 12, 2012

The English Department at Loyola University New Orleans presents Wendy Hyman, Ph.D., in the lecture, “How Not To Seduce a Virgin: Death and Doubt in Renaissance Erotic Poetry," on March 13 at 5 p.m. in the Whitney Bank Presentation Room, located on the first floor of Thomas Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Hyman, one of the most popular forms of literature revived by Renaissance poets was the classical "carpe diem" theme in which coy virgins were urged to "seize the day" and succumb to their lovers’ embraces before time ran out. Such invitations often seemed merely playful, but they relied on the proposition, quite scandalous in Reformation Europe, that there was no afterlife, no Christian consolation and no God awaiting us after death.

"How Not to Seduce a Virgin: Death and Doubt in Renaissance Erotic Poetry" will show how these seemingly trivial poems actually popularized the atheistic philosophy known as "materialism," and thereby seduce the reader into engaging in a radical intellectual game, re-conceptualizing our relationship to both matter and spirit.

Hyman, a professor of Renaissance literature at Oberlin College, focuses her research on 16th and 17th century literature, the history of science and intellectual history, Ovidianism, mythology and lyric of all periods. Recently, she edited the book, “The Automaton in English Renaissance Literature,” on the wide variety of inanimate objects that come to "life" in early modern literature. Her own chapter in the collection was on the surprisingly frequent poetic appearances of mechanical birds. She is currently working on the manuscript, “Skeptical Seductions: Carpe Diem Poetry and the Eroticism of Doubt,” about seduction poetry's ability to explore questions of both physics and philosophy.

For more information, contact Laura Murphy, Ph.D., at lmurphy@loyno.edu or 504-865-2152.