February 2014 - January 2015
Pneuma: Breaths, Sighs and Spirits in Medieval Romance Literature
Gaia Gubbini is Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Peter Szondi-Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft of the Freie Universität. She received the title of Doctor Europaeus in Romance Philology at the University of Siena. She has worked on Troubadour poetry and the senses, with a book published in 2009. Her current research project addresses the themes of breaths, sighs and spirits as key elements marking the encounter between body and soul, between the physical and the immaterial, between senses and emotions. The terms, concepts and metaphors associated with breaths, sighs and spirits are investigated in their literary representations in the romance literature of the Middle Ages. From the survey of texts, a well-defined set of terms and concepts are identified, drawing the “map” and the “vocabulary” of this encounter between body and soul. The classical and early medieval influences on these themes are reconstructed, in particular of the texts by the Fathers of the Church and of medical and philosophical treatises that define the understanding of physical activities - such as breathing - and of immaterial aspects - such as the nature of the spirit. The results of the study highlight the presence and relevance of these themes in medieval culture, considering texts in langue d’oc, langue d’oïl and ancient Italian and exploring the connections between literary texts and medical and philosophical treatises.
In November 2014, Gaia Gubbini organized - together with Joachim Küpper - the international and interdisciplinary conference Corps et esprit au Moyen Âge : littérature, philosophie, médecine.