Lives of the Great Languages: Cosmopolitan Languages in the Medieval Mediterranean

Join the Italian Studies Department for the 2017 Marie G. Ringrose Graduate Lecture.

Before the rise of the European national languages, men and women of letters had to learn a new language in order to become literate. At the other end of the social scale, contact languages emerged to facilitate communication between people who did not share a common language. The Italianate lingua franca was the best known of these contact languages. Professor Mallette studies these linguistic instruments — the cosmopolitan language of literature as well as the lingua franca — in order to defamiliarize the national language system of modern Europe. Tracing the intersections between Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and the Romance vernaculars, she demonstrates how languages overcome the very boundaries that they seem to create.

Generously cosponsored by the Departments of Italian Studies, English, Ethnic Studies, Geography, Spanish and Portuguese, Linguistics, and Near Eastern Studies; the Programs in Medieval Studies and in Romance Languages and Literatures; the Center for Middle Eastern Studies; and the UC Berkeley Institute of European Studies.

The Ringrose Lecture, begun in 1998, features a distinguished scholar in some aspect of Italian Studies chosen by a committee of UCB graduate students, who also organize and run the event. The Ringrose lecturer delivers a public lecture and conducts a seminar for Italian Studies students. The lecture is one of many department activities made possible by the generous contributions of Marie G. Ringrose, a UCB alumna (BA 1930).

Past Ringrose Lecturers are found here.

With questions, please contact