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History & Politics, Literature

Eros [Day 1]

Thinking, Feeling, Writing Love from Classical Antiquity to Early Modernity

Thursday, October 12, 2023
2:00 pm - 6:30 pm


The event will also be broadcast live on our
YouTube, Facebook, and website

International Symposium
Thinking, Feeling, Writing Love from Classical Antiquity to Early Modernity

What is the nature of love? Does it possess a fixed essence? Is it genetically hardcoded? Or does it bend under the influence of social constructs? Does it transform across time periods, geographical locations and cultural contexts? How is it conceived within varying social and historical frameworks? And how does its perception shift alongside evolving scientific paradigms and the narratives woven by fiction?
Beyond their scholarly significance, these questions resonate deeply with us as human beings. The Eros symposium brings together eminent scholars in Literature, Philosophy, Musicology, History of Emotions, and Neurobiology: they will gather at Casa Italiana to share their research, unravel these enigmas, and engage in dialogue with both the in-person and virtual audience.


Follow the live stream here:

Barbara Rosenwein, a pioneer in the field of History of Emotions and the author of Love: A History in Five Fantasies (2021), posits that emotions intertwine intricately with narratives, stories, and fantasies. These constructs furnish the backdrop and substance from which our emotional landscape emerges. In her keynote address, she will delve into “some specific fantasies that have nourished — and continue to nourish — how eros feels and what it means for us today and meant in the past.” In the same session, Cristina Alberini, who is both a Neurobiologist and a Psychotherapist, bridging these domains, will elucidate how our brain and psyche, rooted within our memories, shape our individual experience of eros.
With the theoretical foundation set by Rosenwein and Alberini, our focus will pivot towards the pre-Modern conceptualisations and experiences of eros, seamlessly blending the Humanities and the History of Science. David Konstan, Julie Van Peteghem, and Aileen Feng will guide us to navigate the Classical, Medieval and Humanistic literary and philosophical landscapes; with Lina Bolzoni, Jane Tylus, and Giuseppe Gerbino, we shall explore the Early Modern Italian perceptions of eros through words and music; Paola Ureni, Monica Calabritto, and Eva Del Soldato shall plumb the scientific and medical interpretations of love that thrived during that era.
Finally, during the conference, nine graduate students will deliver a round of lightning talks, sharing their ongoing doctoral projects on the enigmatic terrain of eros.

Schedule (Day 1)
Thursday, October 12, 2023

NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (24 W 12th Street)


2:00pm | Introduction
Ida Caiazza, New York University

2:15-4:00pm | Session 1 | Keynote Talks | History vs Science?
Stefano Albertini, New York University
Barbara H. Rosenwein, Loyola University Chicago
Fantasies of Eros

Cristina Alberini, New York University
Memory and Emotion: a Neurobiological Hypothesis for the Individual Shape of Eros

4:00-4:30pm | Coffee break

4:30-6:30pm | Session 2 | Classical and Humanist Roots
Ida Caiazza, New York University
David Konstan, New York University
The Two Faces of Love in Classical Greece

Julie Van Peteghem, City University of New York
“Ovid, the philosopher who wrote books about love”: Reading Ovid in the Italian Middle Ages

Aileen A. Feng, University of Arizona
Amor and the Intellect in Quattrocento Female Humanist Writing

These events are part of the research project Women Thinking Love. A Gendered History of Emotions in Renaissance and Post-Tridentine Italy (1500-1650). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement no 101024624.

We also wish to acknowledge the generous support received from NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, NYU’s Department of Italian Studies and NYU’s Medieval and Renaissance Center.

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