TSBC7 (detail), 2013, Jordan Eagles. Blood, copper, plexiglass, UV resin. Collection of Ann and Mel Schaffer. Courtesy of and © Jordan Eagles.

There Will Be Blood: A Symposium


Friday, March 1, 2024, at 9 am

Saturday, March 2, 2024, at 11 am

USC and Getty Center

This is a past event

Day 1: Friday, March 1, 2024
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Hoose Library of Philosophy, 2nd floor (201), Mudd Hall of Philosophy (MHP)
3709 Trousdale Parkway, University of Southern California
Note: Day 1 will only be held in person at USC and will not be broadcast on Zoom. Full schedule below

Day 2: Saturday, March 2, 2024
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Center
To attend the keynote lecture by Bruce Holsinger in person, click “Get Tickets" above.
To watch online, register via Zoom.

Delve into the cultural, religious, and symbolic significance of blood during the medieval period in this collaboration between the Getty Museum and USC's Center for the Premodern World. This two-day symposium brings together renowned international scholars, curators, and artists to explore the role of blood in the social, artistic, and scientific dialogues of the Middle Ages. It offers a forum for rigorous academic inquiry and lively discussions that will shed light on this vital aspect of medieval culture. Complements the exhibition Blood: Medieval/Modern, on view at the Getty Center from February 27-May 19, 2024.

Coinciding with the symposium, Illuminations, an immersive environment by contemporary artist Jordan Eagles, will be on view during Getty Center's public hours from March 1–3, 2024.


Welcoming Remarks
9:00 – 9:15 AM

Jay Rubenstein, University of Southern California, Director of the Center for the Premodern World

Session 1: Blood and Violence
9:15 – 10:30 AM

Simon John (University of Swansea, Department of History)
"'They made the blood of the Saracens flow in rivers’: Blood and its Meanings in the First Crusade Chansons de Geste"
Comment: Jay Rubenstein (University of Southern California, Department of History)

Julie Orlemanski (University of Chicago)
"Metabolizing Literalism: Blood Ties in the Middle English Siege of Jerusalem."
Comment: Luke Fidler (University of Southern California, Department of Art History)

10:30 – 10:45 AM
Coffee Break

Session 2: Blood and Medicine
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM

Bettina Bildhauer (School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews)
"Menstrual Blood in Medieval Europe: Pollution, Power and Pleasure"
Comment: Lori Meeks (University of Southern California, School of Religion)

Sarah Star (University of Toronto-Mississauga, Department of English and Drama)
"Medieval Blood: Physiology and Poetics"
Comment: Andrew Fogelman (Cal State University-Long Beach Department of History)

12:15 – 1:45 PM

Session 3: Blood, Genealogy, and Race
1:45 – 3:15 PM

Jennifer Jahner (California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences)
"Pulse and the Poetry of the Body: Gentile da Foligno Reads Gilles de Corbeil"
Comment: Nancy McLoughlin (UC-Irvine, Department of History)

Heather Blurton (University of California-Santa Barbara)
"Medieval Blood, Medieval Race"
Comment: Monica Mitri (University of Southern California, School of Religion)

3:15 - 3:30 PM
Coffee Break

Session 4: The Blood of Christ
3:30 – 5:00 PM

Mary Dzon (University of Tennessee, Department of English)
"Christ as Loving Pelican and Angry Bird in Late Medieval Culture"
Comment: Jennifer Smith (Pepperdine University, Department of English)

Brett Whalen (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Department of History)
"First Blood: The Circumcision of Jesus in Medieval Theology and Devotion"
Comment: Marie Christine Garcia (University of Southern California, Department of History)


Exhibition Viewing (galleries open from 10am–8pm)
Blood: Medieval/Modern Getty Center, North Pavilion, 1st floor

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Coffee reception
Museum Lecture Hall lobby

Keynote Lecture
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Museum Lecture Hall

Is This My Blood? The Medieval Rites of Wine
A talk by author, novelist, and academic and literary scholar Bruce Holsinger

This lecture explores the relationship between theologies of blood and cultures of wine in medieval Western Europe, from the monastic milieu of 12th-century Burgundy to the wards of late medieval London. Even the most sacred Eucharistic practices of the Middle Ages depended on the vintner's craft, while the era's poetry, art, devotional writings, and liturgies reveal close connections between viticulture and religious life. In the medieval world, blood piety and oenophilia often went hand in hand.

Bruce Holsinger is Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English at the University of Virginia and editor-in-chief of New Literary History. His most recent book, On Parchment: Animals, Archives, and the Making of Culture from Herodotus to the Digital Age (Yale University Press), explores the parchment inheritance of the Euro-Mediterranean world. He is also the author of four novels, most recently The Displacements (Penguin Random House). His essays have been published in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, and many other publications, and he appears regularly on NPR. His research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the ACLS, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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