José María Pérez Fernández, How To Do Things with Paper in King Lear

By |2020-05-12T08:46:27+00:00April 30th, 2020|Visual Reflections|

EDMUND: If the matter of this paper be certain, you have mighty business in hand CORNWALL: True or false, it hath made thee Earl of Gloucester. King Lear, 3.5.15-18 (All quotations are from the Arden Shakespeare edition, London, 2016) This exchange in the third act of Shakespeare’s King Lear reveals the role of paper as a trope that denotes the messages recorded in this medium alongside their performative power. Edmund, the arch-villain in the play, plots to betray his father, Gloucester, and his half-brother, Edgar, for the sake of self-promotion at court. He does so by weaving an intricate web of letters that manipulate the opinions and views of powerful political agents at court. It is no less significant that in his exchange with Cornwall, the latter claims that the consequences of the “matter of this paper” will take effect irrespective of their veracity. That paper will, indeed, will bring about Gloucester’s downfall and elevate Edmund to his title instead (1.2.1-182, in particular 1.2.23-61). Paper matters of this sort do not just constitute the semiotic infrastructure for Edmund’s strategy: they [...]

Podcast 2: ‘The Turks and the Plague in the 18th Century,’ Prof Ann Thomson, A PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast

By |2020-04-24T19:52:37+00:00April 24th, 2020|PIMo-CROMOHS 'Contagion' Video Podcast Series|

Eighteenth-century European views of the Ottomans reveal a complex set of politico-religious interests, as the Ottoman Empire declined militarily and gradually became less an object of fear. It was associated with certain clichéd images, in particular of despotism and fanaticism. Among these associations was the prevalence of the plague, which was endemic in many parts of the Ottoman empire, while after 1720 it no longer ravaged Europe. While this situation was often explained by the climate, many authors associated the prevalence of the plague with what they called Turkish “fatalism”, claiming that the Muslim belief in predestination prevented governments and individuals from taking any of the precautions against the disease used by Europeans. Thus the plague became part of the stock of anti-Turkish arguments, used in the justifications for political alignments in the Mediterranean. In the 1780s, an anti-Turkish author like the Frenchman Volney opposed those who supported the Ottomans as a bulwark against Russian expansionism, and argued for their expulsion from Europe and the Mediterranean; he went as far as identifying the Turks with the contagion, claiming that it [...]

Podcast 1: ‘Lazarets Never Aimed to Stop Circulation’, Dr David Do Paço, A PIMo-CROMOHS Contagion Podcast

By |2020-04-14T09:58:53+00:00April 9th, 2020|PIMo-CROMOHS 'Contagion' Video Podcast Series|

The history of lazarets lies at the crossroads between the history of circulations and that of pandemics. Initially built to isolate and treat plague patients, they were then closely associated with the economic development of the early modern European states, and ensured the development of safe circulation in the Mediterranean and Central Europe. Here, through the example of the lazaret of Trieste, we can also understand that a lazaret was a micropolis, and the social and cultural importance of such micropolis for the city, the history, and the memory of Trieste. This history is also that of an empire, of its governance and of the many actors operating at the local, regional and global levels, despite an ever-present pandemic risk.