Pilgrimages and Cave Churches Subject of UT’s Pregame Showcase

This week’s Pregame Showcase focuses on a medieval pilgrimage route through northern Spain. Led by University of Tennessee, Knoxville, interim department head of modern foreign languages and literature and professor of Spanish Gregory Kaplan the showcase will explore the medieval origins of the Camino de Santiago, or Way of Saint James, a route that attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.

Gregory Kaplan

The showcase will take place Saturday, September 10, before the Vols’ home game against the University of Cincinnati. Featuring a thirty-minute presentation followed by a fifteen-minute question-and-answer session, each showcase is free and open to the public and held two hours before home game kickoffs in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center Room 213. Light refreshments are provided, and guests have a chance to win door prizes. Guests who complete a registration form receive a 10 percent discount coupon for game day purchases from the UT Bookstore.

“The inception of pilgrimage traffic along the Camino will be understood as an outgrowth of previously existing routes such as the one that drew pilgrims to a group of seven cave (or rock-cut) churches in the northern Spanish province of Cantabria,” said Kaplan.

“Special attention will be paid to the manner by which the architectural features of these cave churches reveal that they were inhabited by a community of ascetics, the followers of St. Millán (b. 474—d. 574), during the sixth through the eighth centuries.”

Kaplan will use photos of the cave churches to complement the discussion of the formation and early evolution of the Camino de Santiago.

Kaplan’s principal area of research is medieval Spanish philology, which includes the literature of the Spanish Middle Ages as well as the history and evolution of the Spanish language. He has published three scholarly books, a textbook for business Spanish, and twenty-five articles on a variety of medieval topics for scholarly journals such as the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, La corónica, Foreign Language Annals, and Hispanic Review. He has also published articles dealing with Spanish literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Spanish cinema. He has presented his work at professional conferences in the United States, Europe, and Canada. He is currently filming two documentaries for Spanish television on topics related to his showcase presentation.

Kaplan holds the Lindsay Young Professorship at UT and is the recipient of the Jefferson Prize, awarded by the chancellor for demonstrated excellence in research and creative activity, the UT National Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award, and the UT College of Arts and Sciences Advising Award.

The rest of the showcase lineup includes:

-          October 1—Gladys Alexandre, associate professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, presents “Research of the Microbial Kind,” discussing how microbes “think” and her research which seeks to characterize, at the molecular level, the strategies used by bacteria to adapt to changes in their surroundings.

-          October 8—Jered Sprecher, School of Art associate professor, presents “An Exploration of Humanity through Abstract Painting” and will share work of his own and others, as well as examine how commonplace objects can inspire and influence works of art.

-          October 15—Michael Best, associate professor of chemistry, presents “Bioorganic Chemistry: Advancing the Frontiers of Medicine.”  His research involves the design and synthesis of organic molecules, which can be used to understand biological processes relevant to disease. One aspect of his research is geared to the making of enzyme inhibitors, which are used in an array of applications in modern medicine, including the development of new drugs to treat various diseases.

-          October 29—Tom Burman, department head and professor of history, presents “Christians’ Reactions to the Koran in History.”  His remarks will provide an overview of Christian-Muslim relations throughout the ages, drawing from his scholarly work which focuses on the intellectual and religious interactions between Latin Christendom and Arab Islam, especially as these can be seen in the transition and circulation of Arabic works in medieval and early-modern Europe.

-          November 5—Casey Sams, associate professor of theater, will present “Creating Choreography for the Clarence Brown Stage,” as she examines the role of a choreographer in theatrical production, using examples from two of this fall’s Clarence Brown Theatre productions.

-          November 19 – Michael Knight, professor of English, presents “The Typist: An Author’s Translation of History Into Fiction,” talking about his inspiration for and the writing of his novel about an American soldier working as a typist in General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in post-war Tokyo.

The Pregame Showcase is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences. Sponsorship is also provided by WUOT 91.9 FM, with support from the UT Knoxville Office of Alumni Affairs and UT Athletics. For more information, visit http://pregameshowcase.utk.edu/.

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