From an email:
“‘Getting Medieval’: Torture and Truth in the Middle Ages
Thursday, February 4th at 7pm at the Shaw Library [1630 7th Street, NW]
Torture—that most notorious aspect of medieval culture and society—has evolved into a dominant mythology, suggesting that the Middle Ages was a period during which sadistic torment was inflicted on citizens with impunity and without provocation: popular museums displaying such gruesome implements as the rack, the strappado, the gridiron, the wheel, and the Iron Maiden can be found in many modern European cities. These lurid images of medieval torture have re-emerged within recent discussions on American foreign policy and the introduction of torture legislation as a weapon in the “War on Terror”, and raised questions about its history and reality, particularly given its proliferation in some literary genres and its relative absence in others.
Larissa Tracy challenges preconceived ideas about the prevalence of torture and judicial brutality in medieval society by arguing that their portrayal in literature is not mimetic. Instead, she argues that the depictions of torture and brutality represent satire, critique and dissent; they have didactic and political functions in opposing the status quo.
Refreshments will be served.”