I’d like to bring to your attention a public lecture I’m presenting I believe would be of interest to subscribers to this list. Here are the details.
Title: St. Brigit in the Book of Kells
Date &Time: 8:00pm Friday April 9th 2010
Venue: J. M. Synge Theatre, Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin
In the lecture I will argue that the Virgin in the Virgin and Child page (fol. 7v) in the Book of Kells is a portrait of the Saint Brigit Cogitosus describes in his 7th century Vita Sanctae Brigidae. In particular, I focus on the Virgin’s implied dragon (i.e. serpentine lion) nature and relationship to the mythological hag (cailleach). I demonstrate how the symbolism that connects these two themes was both given systematic expression in the iconography of the Book of Kells and obliquely narrated by Cogitosus.
(Please note: I need to add that I will not be referring to any exhibitionistic female figures sometimes associated with the mythological hag - this is an undertaking I gave to the Insurance Company providing public liability insurance for the event.)
Subscribers to this list might query my association of the mythological hag with the word cailleach (caillech) for the OIr. period (Cogitosus was writing c650 AD), especially considering Mairin Ni Dhonnchadha’s paper 'Caillech and other terms for veiled women in Medieval Irish texts', Eigse 28 (1994-5), 71-96, in which she considered the semantics of caillech and found , in addition to 'veiled', it only meant ‘old woman’ in the early sources. Well, based on symbolism employed in Brigit’s lives, only a small part of which I’ll mention in the lecture, and an understanding of the kind of writer Cogitosus, in particular, is – arch, ironic, reflexive, punning – I’ll argue there must have been a word caillech meaning hag in Cogitosus’ time.
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