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2007-08: The Early 17th Century and the Roots of Modernity (ca. 1600-1625)

07-08 Moments of Change Calendar of Events

The first quarter of the 17th century (ca. 1600-1625) was a time of remarkable development. Shakespeare, Cervantes, Caravaggio and Monteverdi were changing the course of Western literature, drama, art and music; scientific breakthroughs – Galileo’s first use of the telescope, Kepler’s new understanding of the cosmos and planetary action, Bacon’s theorizing of empiricism – laid the foundations for our modern scientific and technological world. At the same time, in the New World, the shores of Virginia received its first English settlers (1607), Quebec was colonized by the French (1608), and the “first Thanksgiving” was celebrated in Plymouth between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags (1621).

Highlights of the year-long project include the following:

  • An opening Interdisciplinary Roundtable, comprised of a series of panel discussions, provides an overview of the significant changes taking place in the early 17th century. Panelists include Penn State faculty from history, history of religion, history of science, literature, art history, music history, and theatre history.
  • The Palmer Museum of Art will display its new painting, St. Sebestian Healed by an Angel (ca. 1601-03) by Giovanni Baglione (ca. 1573-1644), a Roman artist in the school of Caravaggio. The painting is a major gift to the Museum’s permanent collection by Penn State alumna Mary Jane Harris.
  • Theatrical productions of Shakespeare’s As You Like It (first acted 1598-1600), performed by Penn State’s School of Theatre, and of Macbeth (first acted ca. 1606), performed by Actors from the London Stage, a professional theatre troupe from England.
  • "Lobby Talk" panel discussion on William Shakespeare, featuring professional actors and literary scholars.
  • Apollo’s Fire, the internationally acclaimed Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, performs selections from Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the opera’s premiere (1607). Monteverdi changed the course of music history with L’Orfeo, the story of a lover who storms the gates of hell to win back his departed beloved, with only his lyre and his singing as weapons. The period-instrument performance also includes lively dances and haunting chamber music by Monteverdi and his contemporaries. Made possible through a partnership among the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Center for the Performing Arts, and the School of Music, the orchestra’s residency also includes lectures and Baroque performance workshops.
  • The first annual Josephine Berry Weiss Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar, “Four Hundred Years Ago: A Decade in the Life of Europe and the Americas, 1599-1609,” team-taught in the Spring semester by Charlotte Houghton (art history), Marica Tacconi (musicology), and Linda Woodbridge (English literature). Weekly lectures, featuring presentations by Penn State faculty and invited guests, are free and open to the general public.
  • The Boston-based early music ensemble Music for a While presents a concert of Elizabethan, Italian, and German music from the early 17th century. They celebrate the varied repertoire of music for bowed and plucked strings (violin, viola, viola da gamba, and lute) and soprano. Music by Dowland, Campion, Morley, Monteverdi, Schütz and others.
  • graduate student research symposium provides advanced graduate students working on early 17th-century topics an opportunity to share their research with the general public.
  • series of concerts by Penn State School of Music faculty and students, featuring music from the early 17th century.
  • A year-long lecture series including presentations by Penn State faculty and by renowned invited scholars.