Prominent historian Michel Zink delivers special lecture at Korea University
- Self-awareness of medieval artists and modernity
The Korea University College of Liberal Arts' CORE Project Team invited Professor Emeritus of Collège de France Michel Zink to deliver a special lecture, “Humanities Traditions and Horizons of Awareness: Literature and Art in the Medieval France,” in Room 214, International Studies Hall at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23.
A permanent member of France's most prestigious academic society, Académie Française, as well as a member of France's five major academies, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Zink is a highly respected historian.
In order to raise the public's awareness of medieval literature, he has played an active role in planning and leading a book series project for bilingual editions of major medieval literary works since 1988. He has also published widely on medieval literature, such as Froissart et le Temps and Poésie et Conversion au Moyen Âge.
Zink's second lecture at Korea University - after his first in 2014 at the invitation of the Department of French Language and Literature - was presided over by Professor Jun-hyun Kim from the department and attended by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Tae-Hern Jung and the Director of Korea University Press In-Jin Yoon.
Zink suggested self-awareness - the capacity to recognize oneself to be distinct from the world and to express one's relation with the world - is what defines human beings, and constitutes the foundation of art. Referring to G. W. F. Hegel's Aesthetics, Zink argued that medieval literature and art gave birth to the modernity found in contemporary art.
In Aesthetics, Hegel segmented the history of art into three phases: the era of symbolic art, the era of classical art and the era of romantic art. The modern times belong to the era of romantic art, in which art's content is least confined to any pre-given form. Hegel thought that this modernity of art began with medieval art, which opened a new horizon of self-awareness, thanks to its Christian background.
According to Hegel, Zink elaborated, the Christian religion demanded sympathy for oneself, or "self-sympathy." Also, it taught the art of allegorical thinking, or the idea that images and texts mean something beyond what they appear to show and tell. Zink also explained that the root of the contemporary conception of artists and poets lies in the medieval time. Providing the Romanesque painting in Cathedral Bourgogne, the poem le Roman de la Rose and the Roman Le livre du Coeur d'amour epris as examples, Zink showed how medieval artists delivered what is beyond images and texts by means of images and texts.
In concluding the lecture, Zink said of poesie personnelle – poems written for recitals – that “the possibility of expressing our self-awareness, which is the very root of modernity of the kind found in our time, has never been exhausted ever since medieval artists used allegory in their works.”
Froissart et le temps: Deep Into French Humanities
Professor Michel Zink talks with KU Graduate Students
In addition to the special lecture held on 23rd, Professor Michel Zink had a talk – titled “Froissart et le temps” – with Korea University’s graduate students on the French poet and chronicler Jean Froissart in the Park Jungu Humanities Seminar Hall, College of Liberal Arts Building, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 24.
Zink first explained that reason for his having chose Froissart as the topic of the talk lies not only in his artistic excellence, but also in the close connection between his works and his time. To investigate the connection, Zink has studied views and expressions about the era found in Froissart’s works including the long chronicle novel Chroniques, the roman Meliador and a number of long poems. During the talk, Zink lectured about how Froissart intermingled his own personal time and the era of history, thereby making time itself a story – how personal elements like emotions and memories blend with the historical elements like religion, thereby constructing new meanings.
To show how time played a role as an medium of love in Froissart’s works, Zink suggested three such examples: the temporal backgrounds in each chapter of Chronique, the time flow in Meliador, and his long poems L’Espinette amoureuse (The Love Hawthorn) and Le Joli Buisson de Jeunesse (The Jolly Bush of Youth).
In the sequel of L’Espinette amoureuse, set 10 years after the original, Froissart implicitly describes how the boy’s and girl’s love matures with time. Froissart’s dedication to the Virgin Mary at the end of the sequel – which has internal and external connections with his own time – also suggests how he conceived his religious views.
The talk was followed by a Q&A session, in which the Korea University 15-16th Century French Poetry Research Team, the Brain Korea 21 Plus Korea University Translation and French Literature Researcher Training Team, and graduate students from the Department of French Language and Literature engaged in an active discussion.