Medieval and early modern texts of all genres frequently display a fascination with material objects, from ancient heirlooms to lavish artworks and ingenious automata. While these objects are usually beautiful, costly or imbued with great powers, they often also betray an unfamiliar origin. Evoking a sense of strangeness and wonder, their mysterious provenance tends to establish notions of spatial and/or temporal distance. Indeed, it seems as though a temporal dimension were always already inscribed into ‘strange’ or ‘wondrous’ things: these objects owe their special status not least to the fact that they belong to different time-schemes, enabling them to act as potent repositories of temporal ‘otherness’. This conference will explore how medieval and early modern texts deploy material objects in order to negotiate questions of temporal otherness. The literary engagement with the material world, we believe, provides a backdrop against which alternative ways of thinking materiality and temporality become possible.
23.08.2018 - 25.08.2018
SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem