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Distinguished Visiting Scholar: Michel Jeanneret

March 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm


I Read Therefore I Am: Aspects of Reading in the Renaissance


Horace Abstract: In a famous passage of the Essays, Montaigne denounces the multiplication of commentaries, in the transmission of knowledge, and then, suddenly, takes their defense. This reversal testifies to the importance recognized to the reader and the act of interpretation, not only in Montaigne but in the thinking of the humanists. Reading should not require the submission or erasure of the reader, but rather give encourage his initiative and allow him a certain freedom in the search for meaning. This revaluation of interpretative research will be illustrated by the study of some editions and commentaries of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the sixteenth century. Although the Medieval tradition of moralization (which treats the poem as a fable) is rejected, editors of the Classics maintain the possibility of hidden meanings, but these, instead of being imposed, can be plural and must be discovered or updated by readers.

A displacement thus occurs, from the priority given to the circumstances of production, the intentions of the author, etc., to the pole of reception and actualization of meaning in the act of reading. Rabelais and Marguerite de Navarre will provide other examples. I will end by situating the problematic of the reader in the more general context of the advent of the modern subject and the promotion of individual singularity at the dawn of modern times.

Bio: Now Professor Emeritus, Michel Jeanneret was for many years Professor of French Literature at the University of Geneva, head of the French Department and Vice-dean of the Faculty of Letters. At the beginning of his career, he was a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, in Cambridge. His wife, Professor Marian Hobson, CBE, FBA, lives and works there and he spends a substantial amount of his time in England.

Apart from being a Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University for five years, he has held posts as Visiting Professor in Harvard, Princeton, Seattle, Irvine, as well as the College de France, Paris-Sorbonne, and the Universities of Beijing and Kyoto. He serves as an expert for different Research agencies in France. He was awarded major prizes by the Academie française, the Academie de Versailles and by the Accademia dei Lincei (Rome). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and of Academia Europaea.

He is now co-chair of a big research project, seconded by a large digitisation program, on an exceptional collection of World Literature kept in Geneva, the Martin Bodmer Foundation. His personal work is still focused for the most part on Renaissance and XVIIth century literature and intellectual history.


Schedule of Events

Monday, March 5, 2018 at 4:15 tea, 4:30 lecture: Lecture (Emmanuel College, Room 119): Metamorphic Bodies in the Renaissance: Transforming Shapes

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 4:00pm: Seminar (Goldring Student Centre, Copper Room, Room 216): I Read Therefore I Am: Aspects of Reading in the Renaissance

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 4:15 tea, 4:30 lecture: Lecture (Emmanuel College, Room 119): Metamorphic Bodies in the Renaissance: Identity Changes


March 6, 2018
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Goldring Student Centre – Victoria College – Copper Room (Rm 216)
150 Charles Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K7 Canada
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