Stanford professor to discuss immortality, medieval manuscripts

November 5, 2018 | Events, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Bailey Sparks

Dr. Elaine Treharne will be the guest speaker for this year’s Richard M. Summers Memorial Lecture, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 8, at 5:30 p.m. in Libbey Hall.

She is the Robert Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at Stanford University. She teaches and researches medieval literary culture, focusing particularly on manuscripts and the contexts of their production.


Her presentation is called “Immortality: Monuments, Manuscripts, Memory and Machines.”

“The lecture asks the question, ‘How do we want to be remembered?’ and focuses on humankind’s persistent efforts to gain some sense of permanence through memorialization and remembrance,” Treharne said. “My sources are ancient monuments, medieval manuscripts, handwritten interventions in books, and cybernetics. This is both literary and text technological. … This is new research that will inform my next book, ‘Landscapes of Immortality.’”

“By ‘text technological,’ she means the technologies of text-making, which includes everything from the quills and parchment of medieval manuscripts to modern technologies such as digital texts,” explained Dr. Christina Fitzgerald, UT professor of English. “As well as being a professor of English and a specialist in medieval literary culture, Dr. Treharne is also the director of the Stanford Text Technologies research hub, which combines research in the history of the book and digital humanities to research the long history of writing and its technologies from its earliest forms to the present.”

Treharne is the author or editor of some 30 books, including “Living Through Conquest” and “The Oxford Very Short Introduction to Medieval Literature.” She also works on the history of information technologies, especially handwriting, and the testimony of the human name.

She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, the Royal Historical Society and the English Association.

The Richard M. Summers Memorial Lecture was established by Marie Summers to honor her son, a member of the UT Department of English from 1966 until his death in 1988. The lecture is designed to bring a distinguished literary scholar, critic or writer to the University.

A reception will be held after the free, public lecture.

For more information, call the UT Department of English Language and Literature at 419.530.2318.

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