Date & Time
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Free and open to the public
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
**This event has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule in the coming months.**
Benjamin A. Saltzman discusses his "Bonds of Secrecy: Law, Spirituality, and the Literature of Concealment in Early Medieval England". He will be in conversation with David Nirenberg, Dean of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.
At the Seminary Co-op
About the book: What did it mean to keep a secret in early medieval England? It was a period during which the experience of secrecy was intensely bound to the belief that God knew all human secrets, yet the secrets of God remained unknowable to human beings. In "Bonds of Secrecy", Benjamin A. Saltzman argues that this double-edged conception of secrecy and divinity profoundly affected the way believers acted and thought as subjects under the law, as the devout within monasteries, and as readers before books. One crucial way it did so was by forming an ethical relationship between the self and the world that was fundamentally different from its modern reflex. Whereas today the bearers of secrets might be judged for the consequences of their reticence or disclosure, Saltzman observes, in the early Middle Ages a person attempting to conceal a secret was judged for believing he or she could conceal it from God. In other words, to attempt to hide from God was to become ensnared in a serious sin, but to hide from the world while deliberately and humbly submitting to God's constant observation was often a hallmark of spiritual virtue.
About the author: Benjamin Saltzman is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago where he researches the literature and culture of early medieval England. He is co-editor with R.D. Perry of a forthcoming collection of essays: "Thinking of the Middle Ages: Midcentury Intellectuals and the Medieval" (Cambridge University Press, 2021). His essays have appeared in PMLA, Speculum: The Journal of the Medieval Academy of America, Anglo-Saxon England, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and elsewhere. His work has earned major fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.
About the interlocutor: Author of numerous books on the history of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian relations, David Nirenberg currently serves as the Dean of the Divinity School and Executive Vice-Provost of the University of Chicago.