Chestertown, MD, February 3, 2005 — The spring 2005 season of Washington College's Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series begins with an excursion to 16th century France and the War of Religion. Katherine Maynard, assistant professor of French, will present “Of Satire and Syphilis: The Fighting Words of Pierre Ronsard and His Protestant Critics,” Monday, February 14. The talk is free and all are welcomed to enjoy tea, conviviality and discussion in the comfortable surroundings of the O'Neill Literary House. Tea served at 4 p.m., talk begins at 4:30.
“At the dawn of the first War of Religion in France, from 1562-63, the most famous poet of the royal court, Pierre de Ronsard, wrote a series of poems intended to defend Catholicism,” says Maynard. “This poetry prompted an angry response from Protestant pamphleteers, many of whom were former friends and associates of Ronsard. The heated exchange between the two sides included many audacious insults, but perhaps the most striking is the mention of syphilis, a disease introduced to France in 1498. My talk will consider the historical realities of syphilis as well as its metaphorical role in the war of words fought between Ronsard and his Protestant detractors.”
The Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series showcases the research, writing and talent of Washington College's faculty and is held in the College's O'Neill Literary House. Established in 1985, the Literary House was acquired and refurbished through a generous gift of alumna Betty Casey, Class of 1947, and her late husband Eugene, and named in memory of his late mother, Rose O'Neill Casey. Now in its 20th anniversary year, the O'Neill Literary House reflects the eclectic spirit of Washington College's creative writing and academic culture.