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Of Mermaids and Men: A chapter in the history of women’s bodies

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Old Government House Lecture Theatre (102-G36)

24 Princes Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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Join us for the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Kim Phillips

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Of Mermaids and Men: A chapter in the history of women’s bodies

The central Middle Ages saw the emergence of a creature hitherto obscured in the depths of European culture, half remembered from her classical relatives, the Sirens, but rarely seen in the intervening centuries. This marine animal, half-human and half-fish, surfaced and swam into view, graceful and mysterious, in the decades around 1100.

Since then, the mermaid (‘sea-girl’) has never quite left our sight. She is so familiar—in heraldry, painting, fairy tales, and movies—it may seem she has always existed, as immutable as a lion or a tree. But let’s return to the days when she was, relatively speaking, new, and ask what broader social and cultural changes prompted her emergence and shifting significance. The medieval mermaid offers a chance to explore the bigger topic of the female body in history and the changing meanings it conveys.

Professor Kim Phillips is a medieval historian specialising in European cultures and their global interactions c. 1100-c.1500, with special interests in histories of women, gender, sexualities, travel, and cross-cultural contact. She studied at the University of Melbourne and Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York before appointment to the University of Auckland in 1997. Her books include Medieval Maidens (2003), Before Orientalism (2014), and (with Barry Reay) Sex before Sexuality.

Date and time: Thursday 11 March, 6.15pm

Venue: Lecture theatre G36, Old Government House (Building 102-G36), 24 Princes Street, University of Auckland, City Campus

Drinks & nibbles will be served in Old Government House, Members Lounge following the lecture

PLEASE NOTE: The event will be subject to Auckland being at Alert Level 2, audience numbers will be limited to 100 at Alert Level 2.

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Old Government House Lecture Theatre (102-G36)

24 Princes Street

Auckland, Auckland 1010

New Zealand

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