History of Knowledge Seminar with Anthony Ossa-Richardson (UCL)
'The Disappearance of Leo Africanus'
The Moroccan diplomat and cosmographer al-Hasan al-Wazzan known to Europeans as Johannes Leo Africanus (fl. 1520s), has always been a figure of considerable interest to Western letters. And yet he has proved exceptionally elusive. This talk tells the story of efforts to 'know' Leo in the twentieth century, drawing on the archives of the Italian geographer Angela Codazzi and of the Hakluyt Society in London; but it will also ask what it means to know the writer or his work at all.
Anthony Ossa-Richardson is a literary and intellectual historian based at University College London, where he teaches English literature. He has published two monographs, one on early modern notions of the ancient Greek oracles (The Devil's Tabernacle, Princeton University Press, 2013), the other on the myriad ways readers have wrestled with multiple meanings in texts, from antiquity to the twentieth century (A History of Ambiguity, Princeton University Press, 2021). He has just completed, with Dr Richard Oosterhoff (Edinburgh), the first English translation of Leo Africanus's Cosmography of Africa since 1600; it will be out with Penguin later this year.
This seminar is organized by Lukas M. Verburgt and Elske de Waal with support from the Descartes Centre, NIAS, and the Huizinga Institute.
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