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Maggie Miller Graduate Lectue: “About suffering Behn was never wrong: The Seven Sorrows of Mary and Aphra Behn’s Analogical Imagination”
February 21 @ 3:00 pm
The second Graduate Lecture Series event of the year!
“After the titular hero of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko kills the second of two tigers, he cuts the heart from its breast to find “Seven Bullets of Lead in it” (46). Given the presence of Marian and Christological imagery throughout the narrative and evidence for Behn’s own interest in Roman Catholicism, this essay argues that, in these bullets, Behn evokes the image of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, an image that has seemingly gone unnoticed in scholarship despite ample commentary on the tiger episodes.
[The speaker (Miller)] is particularly interested in interpretations of Behn’s religious interests including those put forth by Janet Todd, who suggests that Behn is chiefly invested in the spectacle and opulence of Catholic aesthetics and images. The essay first explicates what the image of the Seven Sorrows represents in Roman Catholic doctrine and devotion; it then situates Behn’s lived experience in Flanders and England within the history of Marian religious art to discern where Behn might have encountered this image; and, finally, it suggests that, in Oroonoko, the tiger is not an analogue for Mary but rather that its heart is positioned as an analogue for Mary’s suffering in a narrative that is, [Miller argues], chiefly concerned with images of religious suffering. Working in a tradition of classical tragedy and inspired by the representation of violence as image in Catholic iconography, Behn finds in the image of the Seven Sorrows a spectacle of violent suffering that appeals to her imagination which is already fascinated with Catholic pageantry.
Exploring this image in Oroonoko affords further discussion of Behn’s engagement with religious literature and her encounters with Roman Catholic art and culture as well as her time spent on the continent and the aesthetic influence upon her work that she might have found there. Most importantly, [Miller’s] discussion foregrounds the religious fabric of Behn’s literary imagination and asks that we take her religion seriously.”
Event is approved for CLE credit, food and drinks will be provided!