Dr. Helena Michie’s “Deep History, Surface History: Victorians and Graeco-Arab Sicily”

Friday, February 28
3:30pm-4:30pm
Armstrong Browning Library Lecture Hall

Dr. Helena Michie, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor in Humanities and Director of the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University, will be presenting a portion of her research on figures for history. “Deep History, Surface History: Victorians and Graeco-Arab Sicily” will look at how Victorian travelers, guidebook writers, novelists, and archaeologists represented Sicily’s role as a much-conquered territory. She argues that many of these writers relied on the two highly charged figures – palimpsest and series – to emphasize the island’s relation to Greece at the expense of Northern Africa, and Christians over Muslims. In many Victorian figurations, Sicily is literally and figuratively a conduit to Greece, where what is below the soil (artifacts, mythic characters) becomes more important than what is on the surface where Arab contributions (irrigation, new foodstuffs and plants) changed the economy of the island and the lives of its people.

Professor Michie’s talk will be followed by some Q&A and a light reception.

Meet Professor Michie

In addition to a rich collection of published articles, Professor Michie has authored five books in Victorian studies and gender and sexuality studies. Her 2015 book, Love Among the Archives: Writing the Lives of Sir George Scharf, Victorian Bachelor, with Robyn Warhol, won the North American Victorian Studies Associations Best Book of the Year prize. Other works include Victorian Honeymoons: Journeys to the Conjugal (Cambridge UP 2006); The Flesh Made Word: Female Figures and Women’s Bodies (Oxford UP 1987); and Sororophobia: Differences among Women in Literature and Culture (Oxford UP 1991). She also co-authored Confinements: Fertility and Infertility in Contemporary United States Culture (Rutgers UP 1997) with Naomi R. Cahn, and she co-edited the essay collection Nineteenth-Century Geographies: The Transformation of Space from the Victorian Age to the American Century (Rutgers UP 2002) with Ronald Thomas. Professor Michie has been an NEH and a Guggenheim Fellow.*

This event is co-sponsored by the Baylor University College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Department of History, and the Armstrong Browning Library.

*For more information, see Professor Michie’s faculty page on the Rice University website: https://english.rice.edu/faculty/helena-michie.

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