Harker to Present in Faculty Forum Nov. 2

The next Faculty Forum will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 in Magruder Hall 1000 and will feature Christine Harker, associate professor of English, on "17th Century Poetic Crossdressing: Mairi NicLeod and the Bardic Masculine."

In sabbatical-supported research, Harker studied the work of the 17th century Scots Gaelic poet Màiri nighean Alasdair Ruaidh (Mary MacLeod, c. 1615–c. 1705). Notable as a largely self-trained woman in a world dominated by career courtly poets, an exclusively male occupation, Màiri served the aristocratic chiefs of Scotland’s Clan MacLeod. 

Not widely known to modern scholarship outside Celtic Studies, her poetic output is noteworthy not only for her unusual personal circumstances but also for her remarkable ability to write in the high-literary style of the exclusively male bards. In this presentation for a non-specialist audience, Harker will examine the subjects of both the collapse of late-medieval/early-modern Celtic culture as illustrated by the last moments of the traditional high literary traditions of the Gaelic Scottish Highlands—and also the role of a woman occupying a traditionally-male dominated place in that traditional society. 

The Truman Faculty Forum presentation will involve brief historic overviews of the status of Gaelic culture at the moment when England was eradicating a politically independent Gaeldom and English was rapidly dominating spheres in which high-culture Gaelic had flourished, as well as a brief introduction to the Gaelic bard tradition. It will also address the place of women in this traditional society in order to consider the degree to which Màiri’s work was so remarkable. Some poems will be read in Gaelic and then translated and explicated in English. 

The Truman Faculty Forum was created in 2003 to give faculty the opportunity to present their research and creative work to the Truman community and to enhance the importance of scholarship and creativity in the culture of the University.

Donna Rhinesmith, professor of education, and Sara Orel, professor of art history, will present at Faculty Forum events in the spring.


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