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Monday, November 8, 2021

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Sat, Dec 3, 2022

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  "Empowerment through Empathy": Edmund Spenser's 'The Faerie Queene' and Tarana Burke's Me Too Movement  

The Center for Humanities presents a series of talks by faculty research associates who will discuss their work. This talk is free and open to the public and we invite anyone to attend.

Katharine Cleland presents an imagined conversation between English Renaissance poet Edmund Spenser, and feminist activist and founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke. At first glance, the two might seem to have little to say to one another. However, as readers of Spenser's epic, "The Faerie Queene", will notice, instances of sexual violence occur with alarming frequency. Feminist scholars have long commented on Spenser's portrayals of sexual violence and predation. They have yet to consider, however, how the Me Too movement, the most popular and influential feminist movement in history, can impact a reading of these portrayals.

By looking at Burke's theory of "empowerment through empathy", Cleland demonstrates how the fostering of empathy empowers the female knight Britomart in "The Faerie Queene". Indeed, Britomart's empathic development after her own experiences with sexual violence enables her signature triumph as the Knight of Chastity when she rescues Amoret from the sadistic House of Busirane. In this way, Burke's philosophy can also help us better understand how shared experiences of sexual violence shape female camaraderie in "The Faerie Queene".

Dr. Katharine Cleland is an associate professor in the Department of English. She specializes in English Renaissance literature with particular research interests in Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, and the English Reformation. Other research interests include gender and sexuality studies and adaptation studies. Her current research project places early modern literary portrayals of sexual violence in conversation with the contemporary Me Too movement.

Please join us for this engaging presentation. The livestream can be viewed and will be archived on the Center for Humanities YouTube channel. There will be a brief Q and A session with viewers following the presentation.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact the Center for Humanities at 540.231.1981 or email humanities@vt.edu at least 10 business days prior to the event.
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Location: Online
Price: Free
Sponsor: Center for Humanities
Contact: Dominique Francesca
E-Mail: humanities@vt.edu
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