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Work brings together scholars specializing in numerous academic disciplines from several countries

Olga Anna Duhl, professor of foreign languages and literatures, has edited Amour, sexualité et médecine aux XVe et XVIe siècles (Love, Sexuality, and Medicine in the 15th and 16th Century). Published by Editions Universitaires de Dijon, France, the book contains the proceedings from an international conference that Duhl organized at University of Bourgogne in 2006.

For the conference, “Love and Medicine in the Renaissance,” Duhl brought together scholars specializing in numerous academic disciplines from several countries. The conference was inspired by her involvement with an international team of scholars at the University of Bourgogne Research Center, “Interactions Culturelles Européennes” (European Cultural Interactions). This was the third conference Duhl organized since she started working with the center in 1998.

The articles in the book provide a fresh, interdisciplinary perspective on the linguistic, literary, political, and pseudoscientific representations of the relationships among love, sexuality, and the medical field. Leading specialists in the fields of 15th and 16th century French language, literature, and culture demonstrate how the humanities and science converged during the period.

Scholars whose articles appear in this volume represent a variety of prominent institutions, including McGill University (Canada), University of Bourgogne (France), University Jagellone (Poland), Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), University of Amsterdam (Holland), University Laval (Canada), Washington University (United States), Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles, Lille (France), and University of Haifa (Israel).

Duhl explains that one of the most important cultural factors that helped bring about the Renaissance was the rediscovery of the philosophy of Plato in the 15th century. This allowed people to see old ideas about culture and morality in new ways. As the highest form of human experience, spiritual love was no longer believed to be detached from the senses but connected to them.

“This was an attempt to reconcile two extremes, pagan culture and Christianity,” she says.

This new view, which challenged the medieval tradition that the senses are the sources of evil, gave medicine a socially acceptable way to deal with love, including its pathological forms, through the invention of a wide variety of therapeutic devices.

“Members of the clergy also began publishing works against these ideas,” explains Duhl. “There were very strong reactions. Many people were condemned and some accused of witchcraft.”

A recipient of Lafayette’s Marie Louise Van Artsdalen Prize for outstanding scholarly achievement, Duhl has presented at conferences in the U.S. and abroad. She has received the Folter Fellowship in the History of Bibliography from the Bibliographical Society of America and has been selected to serve on the National Committee for the Walter J. Jensen Fellowship for French Language, Literature and Culture awarded annually by the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She is the author of numerous articles and books including a groundbreaking critical edition about a late medieval “fools” play, Sotise A Huit Personnaiges [Le Nouveau Monde] (Sotise Played by Eight Characters [The New World]) (Geneva, Droz).

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