Fenwick Fellows Lecture: Skirting the Issue

Join the University Libraries on Thursday, April 13 at 2 p.m. in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room, for Dr. Kristina Olson‘s lecture, “Skirting the Issue: Clothing and Politics in 14th Century Italy,” where she will discuss her research findings from her 2015-2016 Fenwick fellowship.

Lecture Abstract: From the mid-13th to the end of the 14th century, an increase in mercantile activity in Florence and other cities in Italy witnessed the proliferation of new wealth among families that did not belong to the aristocracy. This economic development, together with other demographic shifts (such as those caused by the Black Death, ca.1350), caused many non-aristocratic families to climb in social and political power. One way in which they displayed their change in status was by means of their clothing and jewelry, thereby wearing their newfound gains on their persons. This drastic shift in social markers of status bred envy and confusion: families with long-standing claims to nobility appeared impoverished in comparison with these rising upstarts. Bitter feuding and acts of vengeance between the leading aristocratic and mercantile families ensued. In order to maintain social order, civic sumptuary legislation targeted various displays of luxury: excessive spending on clothing, jewelry, and rituals, such as funereal practices and exorbitant wedding dowries.

As clothing comprises a visual language signifying status, then, for many authors of the Italian Middle Ages clothing and luxury became an essential part of their poetic language, bound up with politics and civic identity. Dr. Olson’s book project, Sumptuous Literature: Clothing and Governance in Fourteenth-Century Italy, explores how authors interpret the relationship of wealth, politics and the body in terms that alternately target women (misogyny) or men (misandry) during this exceptional moment in economic and social history.

About the Fenwick Fellows: The Fenwick Fellowship is awarded annually to a Mason faculty member to pursue a research project that uses and enhances the University Libraries’ resources while advancing knowledge in the faculty member’s field. Applications for the 2017-2018 fellowship are currently being accepted; the deadline is May 5, 2017.

Mason Author Series: Helon Habila

Join the University Libraries, in conjunction with the Creative Writing Program’s New Leaves Festival, for a reading and signing by Helon Habila on Wednesday, April 5 at 7:30pm in the Fenwick Library Main Reading Room.

Helon Habila, an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Mason, will discuss The Chibok Girls, his compassionate and powerful account of one of the most horrific recent tragedies to occur in Nigeria: the kidnapping of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April 2014 by Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist group whose name translated into English means “western education is abhorrent.” Habila, a native of Nigeria, traveled to the country twice to track down some of the escaped girls and their families and reconstruct what happened on that fateful day and how the town is coping. He situates the kidnappings within the political and historical context of the rise of Islamist extremism in Nigeria, which is deeply rooted in its tragic history of colonialism.

The University Libraries’ Mason Author Series features Mason faculty and alumni authors throughout the year, and is generously sponsored by the University Bookstore. Upcoming readings include Associate Professor Jennifer Ritterhouse on April 26 and Visiting Professor Michael Hayden on May 4.

iWeek Event@Gateway

Come celebrate Mason’s Thirty-Sixth Annual International Week with Gateway Library! Test your Bollywood knowledge with our staff in Gateway Library, Room 228. Fun, food and prizes are in store at this iWeek event. Join us April 5 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.!

For more information, please contact Allison O’Connor, aoconnor at gmu.edu, 703-993-9055.

Pride Week Film Screenings

Celebrate Pride Week!

Dinner + A Movie: “Kate Bornstein is a Queer & Pleasant Danger”

  • April 7, 6-9 p.m.  228 Gateway Library
  • Gateway Library is hosting a dinner and a movie for Pride Week 2017.
  • Co-sponsored by Pride Alliance.
  • Free!
  • For more information, please contact Izzie Hunsberger, msibley2 at gmu.edu

Film Screening: “Moonlight”

  • April 13, 4:30-7:30 p.m.  Johnson Center Cinema
  • 2017 Oscar for Best Picture.
  • Co-sponsored by University Libraries, Film & Media Studies, Film & Video Studies, ODIME, and African & African American Studies.
  • Free!
  • For more information, please contact Patricia West, pwest6 at gmu.edu