Associate Professor Kellie Robertson (University of Maryland)
Medieval Natural Philosophy and Belief

 Friday, 24 November 2017
10:30am-2:30pm, with morning tea from 10am. Fully catered.

Boardroom, The University of Queensland Art Museum
University Drive, St Lucia

Spaces are limited. RSVP by Wednesday 22 November to

John Argyropoulos, Preface to Latin translation of Aristotle’s Physics, 15th century.This seminar looks at how medieval natural philosophers and literary writers often shared a vocabulary for imagining the nexus of belief that bound the human to the nonhuman world. Medieval readers would often find the same topic treated in Aristotle’s Physics as well as in Jean de Meun and Chaucer. Unlike today’s physicists and poets, medieval academic and popular writers drew on similar concepts, even if they put them to a variety of scientific and philosophical ends. In order to understand this shared intellectual context (and the often complex interchange among academic and lay writings), it is useful to explore both the university context and the extramural reception of ideas prevalent in both domains of knowledge production.  

Kellie Robertson teaches English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland. Her most recent book, Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Philosophy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), examines late medieval poetry in the context of its physics, arguing that both domains struggled over how to represent nature in the wake of Aristotelian science. She is also the author of The Laborer’s Two Bodies: Labor and the ‘Work’ of the Text in Medieval Britain, 1350-1500 (Palgrave, 2006) and the editor (with Michael Uebel) of a collection of essays entitled The Middle Ages at Work: Practicing Labor in Late Medieval England. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center. Her current book project, Yesterday’s Weather: Narrative and Premodern Climate Change, looks at how medieval and early modern societies depict the shock of the natural disaster. Long before the advent of global warming accelerated by industrialization, humans imagined their own actions to be causally related to weather events. This book asks: What does anthropogenic climate change look like before the Anthropocene?

10.30-12.30: Discussion of readings
12.30-1.15: Lunch
1.15-2.30: Response (Dr Trish Ross, IASH, UQ) and discussion

Selected readings will be circulated to Masterclass participants ahead of the event.

Image: John Argyropoulos, Preface to Latin translation of Aristotle’s Physics, 15th century.