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Lectures & Conferences
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The A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography

2017 Rosenbach Lectures

Mary J. Carruthers, Professor of Literature Emeritus, New York University

Cognitive Geometries: Using Diagrams in the Middle Ages

Lecture Dates: March 20, 21, 23, 2017
All lectures begin at 5:30pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion
Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, 6th floor
3420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA

Monday, March 20, 2017: "Geometry and the Topics of Invention"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017: "The Shapes of Creativity 1: Trees, Towers, Buildings"

Thursday, March 23, 2017: "The Shapes of Creativity 2: Hands, Spheres, Cubits"


Registration is requested but not required. Please RSVP HERE

The Tower of Wisdom, woodcut on paper, made in Germany ca. 1475. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Auct. M. 316r.
"The Tower of Wisdom", woodcut on paper, made in Germany ca. 1475. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Auct. M. 316r.
Cognitive Geometries explores the close relationships in medieval creative practice among geometric shapes, meditation, and the human ability to create original works. Focusing on materials crafted in the twelfth century, chiefly on the basis of Biblical texts, and then disseminated widely during the thirteenth century, each lecture investigates the fundamental cognitive insight of medieval diagram makers: that shape and pattern not only envision what we already know but also invite us to discover surprising logical relationships that can provoke our thinking in new ways.

Mary J. Carruthers is the Remarque Professor of Literature Emeritus at New York University and a Fellow (Quondam) of All Souls College, Oxford University. She has written extensively on medieval literature, memory and the history of spirituality. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University (1965) and a B.A. in English from Wellesley College (1961). Carruthers is the author of twelve monographs including her 1990 canonical study, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge). She is the author of numerous scholarly articles and the recipient of many academic honors. She was elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 1996 and a Corresponding Fellow of The British Academy in 2012. In 2003, Carruthers was awarded The Haskins Medal by the Medieval Academy of America for "the best book in the broad field of medieval studies during the past five years" for The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge).

For more information: (215) 898-7088; jpollack@upenn.edu

List of Past Rosenbach Lectures

Rosenbach Lectures as of 2007 are available through
the Penn Libraries Scholarly Commons repository.
View and download available podcasts and videos.


The Rosenbach Fellowship in Bibliography, established by the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in 1928, honors a gift for that purpose from A.S.W. Rosenbach, one of America's greatest book dealers and collectors. Its intention is to further scholarship and scholarly publication in bibliography and book history, broadly understood. Rosenbach Fellows typically present a series of three lectures over a period of one to two weeks while in residence at the University of Pennsylvania. Because of a continuing commitment to the series by the University of Pennsylvania Press, many of these lectures have been published as book-length studies.

The Rosenbach Lectures are the longest continuing series of bibliographical lectureships in the United States. The series began in 1931, with Christopher Morley as the first Rosenbach Fellow. Over the years, lecture topics have included fifteenth-century printing, the relationships between print and manuscript, papermaking, book illustration, American reading and publishing, and medical and scientific texts. Among recent lecturers are Robert Darnton, Anthony Grafton, Peter Stallybrass, David D. Hall, Paul Saenger, Michael Warner, Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, Alberto Manguel, and Paul Needham.

A.S.W. Rosenbach
Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, 1939
Courtesy of Rosenbach Museum
& Library