Kathleen Llewellyn, Ph.D., will present "Regarding Judith: Narrative Framing and Diminished Agency in a 16th-century French version of the Book of Judith" from noon-1 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, in McGannon Hall, room 144.
Everyone is welcome. Bring your lunches. Refreshments will be provided.
About the talk:
Fascinated by the conflicting theories of vision that developed during the early modern era, Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas frames his subjects in La Judit, his recounting of the Old Testament Book of Judith, so that his reader observes not only the principal characters of the epic poem, but the also the very nature and function of vision.
He immobilizes both Judith and the general Holofernes and sets them at a distance from those who gazed upon them, recalling the newly discovered principal of perspective.
He experiments with the theory of extramission, using it to establish a powerful connection between observer and observed, first between the Assyrian soldiers and Judith, then later between Holefernes and Judith, a connection that is rooted in physicality and has decidedly physical consequences: the soldiers are rendered useless and Holofernes ends up dead.
At the end of his epic poem, Du Bartas embraces the visual theory of intromission. The physical connection between Judith and those who gaze upon her vanishes. She has saved the citizens of Bethulia, saved them physically, to be sure, having delivered them from the hands of the enemy. But also, and more importantly, she has saved them spiritually, saved them from their weakened faith, saved them from turning away from God.
Du Bartas uses intromission to separate Judith from her observers, for she has become more saintly than human, she has been transformed into a religious icon.
Kathleen M. Llewellyn is associate professor of French at SLU. She is currently writing a book on representations of the biblical heroine Judith, as she appears in early modern French literature.