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  November 21, 25, 26, 2008 17.30 p.m.

Frienship and Sexuality in Premodern European Ethics and Politics (three lectures)

CEU, Faculty Tower, Auditorium


Eva Österberg

Lund University, Sweden

Friday, November 21, 2008 17:30p.m.
Challenging the private and public Dichotomy: Friendship in Medieval Early Modern Society

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 17:30p.m.
Me and My Friends: Individualism, Friendship and Autobiographies from Saint Augustine to Rousseau

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 17:30p.m.
God, Sin and Sexuality: The Politics of Hetaronormativity in Reformation Scandinavia

Eva Österberg argues that the ancient philosophy of friendship meant a challenge to the modern way of dichotomizing private and public, friendship and love, individualism and collective social life. In the Middle Ages and the early modern period as well, these dichotomies were often blurred. They must be interpreted in their own right—just as Natalie Davis, for instance, has interpreted friendly networks in 16th century France or Aron Gurevich has discussed the rise of the individual in medieval culture. Drawing on the renewed interdisciplinary interest among scholars for Aristotle's ideas of friendship, Eva Österberg, in her first lecture, discusses how the ancient philosophy of ideal friendship was received and changed in Christian thought, in medieval churches and monasteries. In the second lecture, the focus is on a few classical autobiographical texts written by highly influential men: Saint Augustine (354-430), Petrarca (1307-1374), Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and shows how the narratives about friends and friendship differ not only according to the individual authors and their intentions by writing. In her third lecture, she turns her attention to another area of the ethics and politics of personal relations: The way in which right and wrong sexuality was defined and controlled in early modern legal politics.

Eva Österberg has written extensively about Scandinavian—and sometimes more general European—medieval and early modern social and cultural history, as well as about gender relations, historiography, theory of history and the history of mentalities (Eva Österberg, "Mentalities and Other Realities," 1991). Many of her works have analyzed legal and political culture in early modern agrarian society (for example Eva Österberg – Solvi Sogner, "People Meet the Law," 2000), and criminality, victims of crime and women's lives in a long-term perspective stretching from the Middle Ages until modern times. In her recent work, she has focussed on violence as a cultural and political phenomenon, on the one hand (for example, Eva Österberg-Marie Lindstedt Cronberg, eds., "Kvinnor och vald: En mangtydig kulturhistoria," 2005) and friendship as an ethical, existential and political phenomenon, on the other hand (Eva Österberg, "Vanskap – en lang historia," 2007)

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