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Anne Boleyn and the importance of cultural literacy

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Lecture theatre 220, Te Puna Aronui / Humanities Building (206-220)

14 Symonds Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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Inaugural lecture by Professor Tracy Adams

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Anne Boleyn and the importance of cultural literacy

Recent studies of Anne Boleyn’s role in the early Protestant Reform have not shaken the modern image of her as a scheming brunette bombshell who managed to hold off a lusting Henry VIII until she got a ring on her finger. But, beyond annoying scholars of sixteenth-century women, what is the harm in imagining Anne as one who, in the words of biographer Eric Ives, “radiated sex”? So what if Anne’s contemporaries perceived her as devout, cultivated, and intelligent (at least before the king decided to discard his first queen Catherine of Aragon to make her his second)? Why not falsify her story to titillate viewers?

These questions guide my essay, which I offer as an example of my principles, most important, as a teacher, and, second, as a researcher. Through my narrative of Anne Boleyn, I demonstrate how I examine sources and approach emotional and intellectual landscapes very different from my own. My point is that we have a sacred duty to train our students in these same skills, because they are the basic competencies necessary to maintaining a democracy, and that we accomplish this training most effectively by educating students in the humanities, where such skills form the basis of all inquiry.

Professor Tracy Adams received a PhD in French from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1998. Tracy is currently a Professor in European Languages and Literatures at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has also taught at the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, and the University of Lyon III. She was a Eurias Senior Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies from 2011-2012, an Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in the History of Emotions Distinguished International Visiting Fellow in 2014 and a fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek fellowship in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, in 2016.

She is the author of Violent Passions: Managing Love in the Old French Verse Romance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), The Life and Afterlife of Isabeau of Bavaria (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), and Christine de Pizan and the Fight for France (Penn State University Press, 2014). With Christine Adams, she edited Female Beauty Systems: Beauty as Social Capital in Western Europe and the US, Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). The Creation of the French Royal Mistress from Agnès Sorel to Madame Du Barry, also co-authored with Christine Adams, is in press with Penn State University Press.

Date and time: Thursday 7 November 2019, 6.15pm

Venue: Lecture theatre 220, Te Puna Aronui / Humanities Building (206-220), 14 Symonds Street, University of Auckland, City Campus

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Lecture theatre 220, Te Puna Aronui / Humanities Building (206-220)

14 Symonds Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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