Newsletter of the Humanities Research Group ❦ September 2013 (20.1)
A Message from Dr. Antonio Rossini
Long live (our) University!!!
Fruitur tamen aetas nostra beneficio praecedentis, et saepe plura novit non suo quidem ingenio, sed innitens viribus alienis et opulenta patrum. (John of Salisbury, Metalogicon)
As many—if not all—of you know, the 2013-2014 Academic Year will mark the 50th anniversary of our academic institution, or, to echo the words of George McMahon, who has regaled us with a piece stemming from his expertise on the history of the University of Windsor, ‘the new epoch in Windsor’s post-secondary education’.
A few words to honour such an occasion are definitely in order. It is worth noting that our comprehensive University was born as a rib of Assumption University. This unfolding of events, actually, closely mirrors the evolution of universities at large. Indeed, the mediaeval Studia were initially born of ecclesiastical institutions to later reach a great degree of freedom and juridical recognition from both the Papacy and the Empire. During the Renaissance Europe witnessed a sharp specialization of these Universitates Scholarium, with the rapid ascendance of Scientific Disciplines. Nonetheless, our Canadian university system is quite removed from the centralized model imposed by Napoleon in France and certainly resembles more the glorious inception of these schools in the Middle Ages.
This is true not only for the relative amount of academic freedom we enjoy, but is also recognizable in the astounding staying power that the Humanities still exhibit. While preventing us from evolving into mere Polytechnic Schools, a strong culture of humanistic studies allows us to tread in the wake of a great tradition as well as to recapture the original mission of the academic institution. In schools such as Oxford, Paris, Bologna, or Padua, the Artes Mechanicae (technical knowledge) rubbed elbows with the Artes Liberales (Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectics, Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and Astronomy), so called because of their claim to an ethical as well as intellectual liberation of human kind. Of course, these subjects were taught alongside Theology, Law and Medicine. And all this, of course, under the auspices of the sic et non method of discussion—a forerunner of our ‘critical thinking’—so well exemplified by Abelard in his Historia Calamitatum. Also, the unavoidable pressure to secure proper enrollments accompanied the first steps of these institutions. Let us remember, in fact, that Collegia of professors would advertise their expertise or, vice versa, student bodies would unite and look for adequate teachers, more or less like today.
Let us celebrate, then, both our proximity to and distance from such an age-old and glorious tradition of intellectual endeavours. In this vein, we have given space to an article by the above mentioned George McMahon and a follow-up on the story of ‘Galileo’s book’ in Windsor by Dr. Robert Weir. The update on Benedetti’s volume, written in Latin on Mathematics—and bound using folia of a Law textbook—will remind us, yet again, of the interconnection of all branches of knowledge and be our viaticum into a memorable 2013-2014 season.
Antonio Rossini, Director
September 24, 1964
The new epoch in Windsor’s post-secondary education began on September 26, 1964 when John Francis Leddy, D. Phil., D. Litt., DèsL., LL.D., D.C.L., was installed as the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Windsor.
Hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, staff, Basilian Fathers, community and political leaders gathered on the sun-drenched lawn in front of the university center to participate in the event. I joined my colleagues to observe the festivities. The Windsor Star, in its September 28 edition, captured the pageantry in its editorial, “Brilliant gowns and hoods presented a dazzling sight.”
One was impressed by the number of distinguished academics and statesmen who attended the installation of the University’s second President. Thirty-four representatives from federated and affiliated colleges and other organizations in Canada, the United States and the Commonwealth countries presented personal greetings and best wishes. In the comparatively brief time Leddy had spent in Windsor, he had earned the respect of faculty and staff, but the attendance of so many representatives from around the world was an indication of how highly he was regarded by so many.
Claude Thomas Bissell, President of the University of Toronto, delivered the major congratulatory address:
In his poem on Windsor Forest, Pope declares that his patron will
Make Windsor Halls in
Lofty number rise
And lift her turrets
Nearer to the skies
I suggest that we have pre-figured the development of this University under Francis Leddy.
Dr. Leddy, in his magnificent address paid tribute to his predecessor in a most significant way:
The story of the University of Windsor has been often told in recent months and need not be reviewed again, but I would be unjust if I did not pay special tribute to the long service of the Basilian Fathers, over more than a century, at great personal and material cost, providing a college and university education which would otherwise not have been available in Windsor. Many of them were and are fine scholars and doughty personalities, making a lasting impression on their students, and I am tempted to single out certain of my particular favourites amont them, but I limit myself to one name only, my remarkable predecessor, Father LeBel. To those who knew him no praise is necessary, to those who never met him, no account of his work can be altogether adequate unless it conveys the large spirit in which he worked and to which so many others were eager to respond. He has deserved well of Windsor and Canada.
On September 26, the LeBel era came to an end and the Leddy era began. It was to last 14 years. The faculty, staff, and indeed the community, loved the charming LeBel, but we fully realized by the installation ceremonies that Leddy was something special. Dr. Ron Ianni, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1984 to1997 once observed that Dr. Leddy as President drove the University of Windsor into “the big leagues.”
Even a brief examination of the University’s situation, i.e., enrolment, buildings, campus value, academic programs, budget, etc., from 1964-1978 would prove Dr. Ianni’s statement. It all began on that lovely September afternoon when “the Windsor Halls began to rise.”
George McMahon Sr.
The Further Adventures of Benedetti (1599)
Over the past twelve months, consultations with palaeographic experts and more research of my own have dramatically revised the provenance of the Windsor copy of Giambattista Benedetti's Speculationum Liber (Venice, 1599) from what I hypothesized in last year's issue of Athena. The book still seems to have belonged to someone in Galileo's circle in the Venice-Padua area circa 1600 AD; and though ownership and annotation by Galileo Galilei himself now appears less plausible, a new name to conjure, that of England's William Gilbert, now enters the picture.
In recent months, I have advanced this inquiry on my own, mainly by dint of consulting the oracle that is Google, and to good result too. First, old auction catalogues available from Google Books suggest a date in the early to mid 1800s as roughly the time when an unexceptional, vellum-bound folio of 16th or 17th century date would have had an estimated value of 18 shillings in a London sale. This date is of significance for fixing a terminus ante quem for the excision of the signature from the title page that is noted, along with the price of 18 shillings, in the auction lot description that is pasted inside our book's front board. The second tidbit is that the printed pages of waste paper that are bound inside the vellum covers of the book can all be identified as coming from the Vocabularius Iuris Utriusque. Google's advanced search quickly yielded this result when I entered the few Latin phrases that I could see on the reused paper; and a download of a 15th century edition of the Vocabularius from the Digitale Sammlungen Darmstadt confirmed that this was indeed the source of my readings. The Vocabularius, a glossary of legal terms useful for law students, was first printed in 1474 and reprinted for more than a century thereafter in Venice and several other cities on the continent, but not in England, at least not before the 17th century. Venice's domination of the early printed book market (e.g. at least six editions of the Vocabularius before 1500) and the natural tendency of any bookbinder to use waste paper filler that was locally available suggests that our Benedetti was most likely bound in Venice. The Gilbert connection described below indicates that this happened around 1600, thus perhaps with pages from the Venetian Vocabularius of 1581.
Last summer, I contacted a handful of prominent scholars of Renaissance learning and/or Italian palaeography in the US and Europe to ask for help in attributing the Benedetti annotations. In order of contact, they were: Tony Grafton of Princeton, Owen Gingerich of Harvard, Nick Wilding of Georgia State, Michele Camerota of Cagliari, Isabella Truci of the Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze, and Mario Otto Helbing of Zurich. They all graciously drew on their expertise to give me their opinion. Isabella Truci in particular was particularly kind in the amount of time and effort that she devoted to my inquiry. A suggestion by Michele Camerota that I check if Chatsworth House in England still possessed its copy of Benedetti (1599) that appears in a 19th century inventory of its library and bears the signature of the famous early classicist Richard Bentley (thus possibly R[ ] B[ ], not G[ ] G[ ] on our book's title page) provided a fascinating digression. As it turns out, Chatsworth House still possesses Bentley's Benedetti (1599) and sent me a photo to prove it, but the ephemeral hypothesis that our book could have been Bentley's simply confirmed its scarcity. In any case, the scholars' consensus was that whereas the annotations were Italian and of the early 17th century, they were most likely not in Galileo's handwriting. Two of the experts (Wilding, Truci) opined that the annotations could be in two different hands, a comment which would return to pique my interest anew a few months later.
In February, I began to look for ways to distinguish two different hands and for any substantive differences between what each was noting. Very quickly, I saw that the excised signature on the title page, a very few annotations, and all the underlining were the work of a finely sharpened, almost scratchy, quill using a rather light, reddish-brown ink; everything else, i.e. almost all of the annotations that have preoccupied me this past year, was executed with a blunter nib that produced a more fluid line of darker brown.
In the wee hours of February 22nd, I idly began inputing some of the Latin phrases underlined by the scratchy quill to look for any exact matches that Google might find. At first, the only hits were from Benedetti's book, a copy of which is available from Google Books. But then, from page 186, I entered the following underlined phrase (the context is Benedetti's discussion of what causes stars to twinkle): ab inaequalitate motus corporum diaphanorum mediorum nascitur (="[twinkling] is born from the unevenness of the motion of intervening, transparent particles"). What was returned by Google was both the usual Benedetti citation and now, for the first time, hits all emanating from page 206 of William Gilbert's book De Mundo Nostro Sublunari Philosophia Nova (or A New Philosophy Concerning our Sublunar World), which was a distillation of this astronomer's thoughts on cosmology that was first published in 1651, almost fifty years after his death. Not only does Gilbert quote these exact words of Benedetti (hence the Google hits), but he also names him, Baptista Benedictus, as their author. Gilbert's book too is available from Google Books, so I downloaded it for a closer look. Very quickly I found another Benedetti connection: on page 176, while discussing the reason why the Moon has dark spots, Gilbert paraphrases, not quotes, the theory of the same Baptista Benedictus that the dark patches on the Moon are the result of areas of varying density. When I looked at our book I saw that several parts of Benedetti's discussion of the maculae Lunae (lunar spots) on pages 192-193 were underlined with the same scratchy quill work. Further searching may turn up further correspondences. However, at this point I had another idea that I wanted to follow up: the signature on the title page.
As previously reported, I have interpreted the excised signature as reading G[ ] G[ ] and containing two words of roughly equal length, to judge from the size of the excisions. The separation of the ownership signature into two parts, one on either side of our book's title page, is very curious; and I have not yet found a Galilean parallel for this practice. However, consider now how William Gilbert would have signed his own name in Latin, Guilielmus Gilbertus! His name appears thus on the title page of his De Mundo Nostro. Sometimes he abbreviates and anglicizes a little (e.g. "Guil. Gylberde" on the example mentioned below, which is a signature from his student days), but the G. G. initials are striking, as is the spacing he often puts between the two components of his name. Thanks to Google's advanced search one can actually view an image of Gilbert's split signature, a signature which flanks the central device on the title page of his 1562 copy of Galen (a medical writer of the 2nd c. AD) that is now in the library of St. John's College, Cambridge, his alma mater.
William Gilbert (1544 –1603) was best known in his day as the royal physician to both Elizabeth I and, briefly, James VI/I (1601–1603), but posthumously he has become more famous for his work on magnetism. His De Magnete of 1600 was one of the first scientific books printed in England. Although Gilbert mentions Joannes Baptista Benedictus as an authority on the question of longitude (De Magnete 4.9), there is no evidence that Gilbert knew of Benedetti's Speculationum Liber and his astronomical speculations therein by 1600. But surely he must have seen, and used, a copy of Benedetti's rare book before he died on 30th November, 1603. How could this have happened?
The answer seems to be that Gilbert's De Magnete quickly reached the Venetian book market, where it was bought and enthusiastically read by two members of Galileo's inner circle, Fra' Paolo Sarpi and Giovanni Francesco Sagredo. Sarpi and Sagredo promptly recommended Gilbert's book to Galileo, who read De Magnete and confessed himself intrigued by Gilbert's experimental approach in a letter to Sarpi of 1602. Shortly thereafter, we know from a letter that Gilbert sent to fellow magnet-enthusiast William Barlow on 14th February, 1603 (the text of which is also locatable online thanks to Google!) that he had recently received, via a Venetian diplomat lately arrived at Elizabeth's court, a Latin letter of warm congratulations for his book from Sagredo "and divers learned men of Venice and …the Readers of Padua," which is no doubt an allusion to Galileo and his circle. Given that our Benedetti's more fluent, brown annotations in an Italian hand of the early 17th century do concern mathematics, and given that Sagredo himself was principally interested in mathematics, it is not impossible that Sagredo sent Gilbert his own, Venetian-bound copy of Benedetti's Speculationum Liber in 1603 as a gift to accompany the letter. When Gilbert perused this second-hand book before his death in November of that year, he was particularly interested in the astronomical sections in its latter half and underlined some bits that would later make their way into his posthumous De Mundo Nostro.
There is still the matter of his split signature's excision, which remains a mystery. Possibly it was intended to conceal a theft, i.e. of this book from among the trove of Gilbert's papers and books that he had bequeathed to the Royal College of Physicians. If this is so, then such a theft is ironically what saved this book for us, since the College's library was destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666).
Our flagship programme, the Distinguished Speakers Series is a rich series of talks and colloquia with innovative, original, and illustrious scholars across the humanities, arts, and social sciences. All events are free and open to the public. In addition to these evening lectures, our speakers will be leading colloquia — thought-provoking discussions limited to faculty, interested members of the community and graduate students. To register, contact the HRG office at extension 3508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“War – What is it Good For? How Violence Made The World Safer And Richer”
Contrary to what most of us assume, war has had a very surprising side effect over the past 10,000 years – it has produced bigger, safer, and wealthier societies. This talk looks at why this happened, how the patterns played out across the millennia, and what their implications are for the 21st century.
7:00 pm • Thursday, November 7, 2013
Freed Orman Centre, Assumption University
A seminar for faculty and students will follow on November 8, 2013 in Freed Orman Centre at 10:00 am.
“The Poet’s Job: Looking Into The Darkness of Our Time ”
Ezra Pound said something to the effect of “In the mind of the poet all times are contemporaneous”. Gertrude Stein invoked “The continuous present”. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, speaks of the need to be contemporary with one’s time, and how in order to do this the poet must look into the “darkness of one’s own time”. This is seen as a generative act, however, and relates to the physiology of “off cells” in the retina. Anne Waldman will discuss her own innovative practices as a writer, her work with poetics infrastructure and pedagogy (the founding of the Kerouac School at Naropa University with Allen Ginsberg) and other cultural interventions.
7:00 pm • Thursday, January 16, 2014
Freed Orman Centre, Assumption University
A seminar for faculty and students will follow on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 10:00 am. in Freed Orman Centre
“Five aAcient Secrets to Modern Happiness and The Good Life”
What are the secrets to authentic happiness? How is it possible to live a good life? What sorts of activities and experiences contribute to humans flourishing? Join Professor Gendler on a fascinating tour through 2,500 years of thought on these questions. Tying together cutting-edge work in contemporary psychology and neuroscience with the profound writings of ancient philosophers, she will show you how deep reflection on these central questions can make life more meaningful and fulfilling. The talk focuses on the insights of five major Greek and Roman thinkers: Socrates on self-knowledge, Plato on self-harmony, Aristotle on habit, Epictetus on self-reliance, and Cicero on friendship. You’ll learn how brain imaging studies help soul, how contemporary research in social psychology confirms Cicero’s sage observations about the significance of friendship, and how the writings of Epictetus helped Vietnam POWs survive the conditions of their imprisonment.
7:00 pm • Thursday, March 13, 2014
Freed Orman Centre, Assumption University
A seminar for faculty and students will follow on Friday, March 14, 2014 at 10:00 am. in Freed Orman Centre.
As part of its on-going mandate to foster research in the humanities, the HRG will offer a Humanities Fellowship in the 2014-2015 academic year. University of Windsor faculty with research projects in the traditional humanities disciplines or in theoretical, historical or philosophical aspects of the sciences, social sciences, arts, and professional studies are invited to apply. Applications from individuals engaged in an interdisciplinary research project are particularly encouraged.
The Fellowship is designed to provide on-campus researchers with the time necessary to complete major research projects and to prepare results for publication. Projects must be completed during the tenure of the award. The Fellow will be affiliated with the Humanities Research Group and will deliver a public research seminar on his/her project.
The Fellowship carries an award of one term release-time from teaching, during which the fellow will be expected to be engaged in full-time research on campus.
Full-time members of the U of W faculty, of any rank, tenured or probationary, are eligible to apply. The application form and detailed instructions are available from the Humanities Research Group website.
The successful applicants in 2013-2014 were:
Prof. Kim Nelson, Visual Arts
Dr. Tom Najem, Political Science
HRG will keep the University Community informed as per their upcoming public lectures.
Poet Laureate, city of Windsor, Dept. of English
“Telling Our Story” (A sharing of stories about our place in South Western Ontario.)
4:00 pm • Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Chair, Research Ethics Board
“Newton And Deductions From The Phenomena”
4:00 pm • Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Erica Stevens Abbitt
Dramatic Art Centre
“A Talk on British-American Political Playwright Naomi Wallace”
.4:00 pm • Wednesday, January 8, 2014
School of Visual Arts
“Exhibiting the Frontier: aesthetics, politics and the American border”
4:00 pm • Wednesday, March 12, 2014
HRG Student Awards
Culliton Award of $2100!
Please advise your articulate humanities students about an essay contest with an award of over $500 per page. Each year, the HRG assists with the advertising and administration of the Joseph T. Culliton Award in the Humanities. This award honours the memory of Father Joseph Culliton, Basilian priest, professor and head of the former department of Religious Studies, former Dean of Arts, staunch advocate of the humanities, and all-round mischievous character! For eligibility requirements and the online application, see the Student Information System, Awards Information website.
Peter Halford Award
Full-time humanities students who have been away from studies for at least two years are eligible to apply for an award of $800. Check the Student Information System website for details of other requirements and the deadline. This award honours the success the late Peter Halford enjoyed with returning students.
The Twentieth North American Sartre Society Conference
October 4-6, 2013
This conference will bring together Sartre scholars from Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium and other countries.
The invited speaker is Michel Contat, editor of the Pléiade edition of Sartre’s works and the jazz critic for France’s national newspaper Le Monde. He will speak about “Sartre, Shelton Brooks’s ‘Some of These Days’ and jazz.” There will be round tables on Sartre’s ground breaking philosophical work Being and Nothingness, his theater and various other aspects of his work such as (auto)biography, psychology, politics, literary criticism and intellectual history. There will be parallel sessions in English and French. We are also planning a book display of recent works dealing with Sartre and existentialism in general. On Saturday evening October 5, 2013, a jazz concert featuring the compositions of Shelton Brooks (born in Amherstburg) will take place in the Chapel of Assumption University. His melody “Some of These Days” became the leitmotiv of Sartre’s 1938 novel La Nausée. The presentation by Michel Contat and the musical evening will be open to the public.
The HRG would like to extend its deepest gratitude to Dr. Robert Orr, Interim Dean FASS for the academic year 2012-2013, for his incessant presence, help, and advice.