The Celts: History, Culture, Legend

From Galatia in modern Turkey to Galicia in northwest Spain, Celtic peoples dominated pre-Roman Europe, a Celtic past evoked in such place names as Paris, Vienna, and Edinburgh. Celtic culture outlasted Roman military rule and generated a rich archive of art (metal and textiles), religious and cultural traditions, and legends that inspired epic and lyric poetry in Europe’s successor languages. Some Celtic polities (Wales, Brittany) were absorbed into larger national units only in the late medieval period, and Celtic cultural identity remains strong wherever Celtic languages are spoken.

The “Romantic Nationalism” of the 18th and 19th centuries rediscovered Europe’s Celtic past and is the spiritual ancestor of contemporary independence movements (Scotland, Catalonia) that look to early modern Europe’s smaller polities. Since the 18th century Celtic musical and literary contributions to the European culture have been notable—from Thomas Moore, the Bard of Erin, to Seamus Heaney.

In collaboration with the UC Celtic Colloquium and the UC Berkeley Celtic Studies Program

Friday, May 6, 2016, 7:30-9:30 pm

The Celtic World / Daniel Melia (UC Berkeley). Did the druids really burn people in giant wicker statues? Did the Celts worship a mother-goddess? Did they worship trees? Did the Celts build Stonehenge? Was Britain Rome’s Vietnam? Who were these Celts anyway (or were they Kelts)? Where did they come from? And how do we know about them, since they left no substantial written records before the introduction of Christianity in the late Roman Empire? Fortunately, the combination of historical records from the Classical world, modern archaeology, and the discipline of historical linguistics allows us to present a surprisingly full picture of the history of Celtic languages and culture in Europe, though, to be sure, many areas of controversy still remain.

Performance: Patrick Ball presents O’Carolan’s Farewell to Music. Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries was a troubled, tumultuous place. The old Gaelic order had been shattered by the English, and the poets, the bards and the harp players were set walking the roads. Yet, this dark period of Irish history produced a Celtic harper and composer of such brilliance, grace and character that he is, to this day, regarded as his country’s greatest and most beloved musician—Turlough O’Carolan. Conceived and performed by Patrick Ball, and written by Patrick Ball and Peter Glazer, this one-person musical theater piece brings to the stage the legendary life, the turbulent times and the captivating music of this most celebrated Irish artist. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016, 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Celtic Storytellers and their ‘Bag of Tricks’ Through the Ages Joseph Falaky Nagy (UCLA). Nagy highlights some of the persistent and recurring themes, story patterns, and narrative motifs to be found in medieval Irish and Welsh storytelling, from the middle of the first millennium CE to recent times. Among these story elements with their special Celtic “twists,” some also to be found disseminated throughout Western European literature of the Middle Ages, are the quest, the love triangle, and serial shape-shifting. Nagy will briefly survey the heroic sagas of the so-called Ulster cycle, some early British reflections of Arthurian legend, and the symbiosis of storyteller and hero in Irish and Scottish Gaelic folktales. Consideration will also be given to the functions of storytelling in Celtic cultures.

From Cats to Rattlebags: Medieval Celtic Scribes and Their Books / Elaine Treharne (Stanford). Many significant manuscripts in Latin, Irish, Welsh and Cornish exist from the Medieval period (c. 600-1500). From The Mabinogion to sermons, drama to great national myths, these manuscripts reveal a great deal about the scribes and artists who produced them. The skill and humor, veneration and scurrilousness of insular authors is found in these glorious writings, connecting the present to the past, and bringing to life the things that mattered most to our Celtic predecessors.

Making Celtic Art: Materials and Meaning from the Iron Age to the Internet / Karen Eileen Overbey (Tufts University). How did Iron Age craftsmen fashion intricate gold torcs and richly decorated battle gear – and why did Celtic warriors wear them? What technologies did the Celts use to create the spirals, animal forms, and rich decoration we still recognize (and recreate) today? How and why did medieval Irish artists adapt interlace, triskeles, and other “Celtic” patterns in manuscripts, stone crosses, and metalwork? What do the materials and motifs of Celtic art across the ages tell us about the people that used them? This lecture focuses on the Insular Celts, the medieval Gaelic culture of Ireland, the Irish Celtic Revival of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the modern Celts of the digital age – and explores the role of making in Celtic art across the ages.

The Celts in Modernist and Contemporary Irish Literature / Catherine Flynn (UC Berkeley). From W.B. Yeats’ visionary Celtic Twilight to James Joyce’s taunting “cultic twalette,” Professor Flynn’s lecture examines strikingly different representations of the Celts in Irish literature in the 19th and 20th centuries. As Irish writers from Yeats to Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Seamus Heaney struggle to form an ethos, a national identity and an aesthetics in a shifting political, social and economic landscape, the Celts are reimagined as mystics, craftsmen, hags, and bog bodies. These Celtic figures allow us to understand these writers’ changing moods and ambitions as they emulate, mock, dig up and speak to a reanimated past.

Panel Discussion with the Presenters

4 pm Conclusion

Shakespeare & Cervantes
Shakespeare & Cervantes

Shakespeare & Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) and William Shakespeare (1564 –1616), two of Western civilization’s greatest writers, helped to define modern forms of literature, while enriching the power and expressiveness of their respective languages. They lived amid the tumultuous interconnected histories of the Spanish Golden Age and the Golden Ages of Jacobean and Elizabethan England. On the 400th anniversary of their deaths, we celebrate the enduring themes and vivid characters in the timeless stories they created.Their respective literary contributions have become deeply embedded in world culture and remain influential to this day.

 Download the Program Postcard

Friday, February 26, 2016 | 7:30-9:30 pm

The Renaissance World of Cervantes and Shakespeare / Roland Greene (Stanford). If one were born into the Spain and England of 1547 and 1564, as Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare respectively were, what events in history, intellectual life, and literature would have mattered in the making of one’s early work as a writer? Roland Greene explores the common elements in the world-views of these two European contemporaries who came to define the literature of their time. Both of them lived under absolutist monarchs, observed changing intellectual paradigms, pondered the challenges of the Americas, and explored several available literary genres as ways of capturing a complex reality. At the same time, their differences—in religion and national perspective, among other things—are important too. Weighing likenesses and differences, we will approach an understanding of these two figures in relation to each other and to the world they had in common.

PerformanceCrosscurrent: Renaissance Music from England and Spain /  Shira Kammen directs Gallimaufry, the new chamber chorus,performing music from the time of Cervantes and Shakespeare, including settings of their texts. With Peter Maund (percussion) and Michelle Levy (vielle

GALLIMAUFRY chamber chorus: Shira Kammen. director, bowed strings; Michelle Levy, bowed strings; Peter Maund, percussion; Singers: Dorothy Manly, Beth Summers, Marcia Hofer, Dave Watt, Lynn Haug, Chelle Cockle-Persoff, Victoria Varieur, Theresa Nelson, Greg Tinfow, Susan Moreno, Patti Cobb, Michelle Levy, Prentiss Williams, Max Ziff, Stephen Pitcher, Scott Robinson, Melissa Leverton, Alice Benedict, Sarah Lamb, Sarah Rose Cohen, Larry Schmehl, Melanie Spiller, Asher Davison, Lisa Gartland

Where Griping Grief (from Romeo & Juliet)          Richard Edwards (1524-1566)

John Come Kiss me Now (instrumental)                John Playford (1623–1686/7)

Jog On (from A Winter’s Tale)                                  Anonymous


Oy Comamos y Bebamos                                           Juan del Enzina (1468 – 1529)

Recercada (instrumental)                                          Diego Ortiz (c. 1510 – c. 1570)

Caballero de aventuras                                               Anonymous

Rodrigo Martinez                                                        Anonymous


Full Fathom Five (from The Tempest)                      Robert Johnson (c. 1583 – 1633)

Willow Song (from Othello)                                        Anon., from the Roxburgh Book of Ballads

Give me my Yellow Hose (referred to in Twelfth Night)      Anon.

Farewell Dear Love (from Twelfth Night)                   Robert Johnson


Calata ala Spagnola (instrumental)                              Joan Ambrosio Dalza (fl. 1508)

Amor con Fortuna                                                           Juan del Enzina


When that I was and a little tiny boy (from Twelfth Night)  Anon.

Saturday February 27, 2016, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Why Everyone Should Read Don Quixote / Adrienne Martín (Harvard)Although most people are familiar with Don Quixote through cartoons, films, ballet, television, or the musical Man of La Mancha, fewer have actually read the eponymous novel. Nonetheless, Don Quixote is recognized by most contemporary writers as the first modern novel and the best one ever written. What makes it so and why should everyone read it? Cervantes’s masterwork is the first self-conscious book about books, about reading and writing and the relation between reading and living, and about how life can imitate art. Ultimately about the joys—and the dangers—of reading, Cervantes takes readers on a philosophically profound, yet extremely funny road trip punctuated by adventure, mad lovers, forceful women and odious nobles. Highlighting themes such as the nature of reality and illusion, heroism, adventure, male bonding, freedom, racial tolerance and love, Don Quixote is as relevant today as it was in 1605.

Shakespeare’s Stage / Shakespeare’s Works / Stephen Orgel (Stanford). Shakespeare’s drama occupies a central place in the modern imagination, as a touchstone not merely for theater but for literature itself. The Collected Plays have been, for almost three centuries, the most canonical work in English, rivalling even the King James Bible. Paradoxically, Shakespeare wrote for performance, not for publication. His plays were scripts for a particular troupe of actors, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later called the King’s Men, whose colleague he was for two decades. Shakespeare’s plays are deeply imbued with the conditions of his theater. What was that theater like, what was involved in writing for such a company, and—most important for our modern sense of Shakespeare—what happened when the scripts became books and the stage became literature? 

Cardenio and its Spanish Connection / Barbara Fuchs (UCLA). The lost Shakespeare/Fletcher Cardenio serves as the absent marker for a literary phenomenon that we have largely ignored: the strong English fascination with Spanish literature even during the periods of greatest animosity between the two nations. By reconstructing the context for the missing Cardenio we can recover the powerful intellectual and literary connections that thrived despite Protestant suspicion and imperial rivalry.

Performance: Shakespeare’s Cardenio? / Bruce Avery and Lana Palmer

Bruce Avery and Lana Palmer entertain with scenes from Double Falshood, thought to be the mis-titled Cardenio.

The Baroque World of Cervantes and Shakespeare / Roland Greene. The European and transatlantic world saw a considerable number of changes after 1600: in politics and society, in technology, in the arts, and in the general state of knowledge, as a generation of thinkers came to realize that they knew more about the world than the classical authorities to whom they had been conditioned to look for guidance. We sometimes call this era of change the Baroque, and while it includes the entire careers of a number of important figures across the disciplines, this lecture will ask what it meant for these two writers, Cervantes and Shakespeare, whose world-views were established in the preceding era, known as the Golden Age in Spain and the Elizabethan age in England. How does a playwright, novelist, or poet adapt to the Baroque in late career? How does an understanding of the seventeenth-century Baroque contribute to our understanding of the late Cervantes and Shakespeare?

Panel Discussion with the Presenters

Conclusion 4 pm

We hope you found our program last weekend on Shakespeare and Cervantesrewarding. Your feedback is important to us! Some have asked how to complete our online evaluations for the program. The link is:


It takes only 3-4 minutes. Feel free to offer suggestions for future programs as well. If you already completed your evaluation over the weekend, thank you!

The Great War
The Great War

The Great War: Cultural Reverberations Across Europe

Marines’ Memorial Theatre, San Francisco

The First World War collapsed empires, redrew national boundaries, caused cataclysmic change in a generation of Europeans, and revolutionized long-held worldviews all across Europe. From 1914­-18, “The Great War” raged amid a vast crisis of cultural confidence. The war to end all wars was a monumental catastrophe, one of history’s major turning points. Yet among The Great War’s legacies of drastic political, social, and cultural change in Europe has been its immense artistic response in music, art, literature, and film.

“What did you do in the Great War Mr. Joyce?”
“I wrote Ulysses. What did you do?”

Friday, May 1, 2014, 7:30-9:30 pm

The Great War: Monumental Catastrophe, Cataclysmic Change / Tyler Stovall (UCSC). World War I marks the beginning of the twentieth century, and the modern age in general. It replaced the self-assured European civilization of the nineteenth century with a new era based not on peace and progress but on conflict and uncertainty.  It toppled empires, replacing them with uncertain experiments in liberal democracy, socialist revolution, and fascism. Finally, as the first truly global conflict, it created the idea of a unified world that has remained with us ever since. This keynote outlines the main features of the war, both on and off the battlefield, a cataclysm that both destroyed the old world and at the same time created the new era.

Performance: Postwar Parisian Mélodies / Daniel Lockert and Eliane Lust (piano) withMolly Wilson (soprano). In 1917 Paris, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Pablo Picasso, Sergei Diaghilev and Les Ballets Russes created the ballet Parade, a work of derision and a great scandal. Men were dying at the front and, in Paris, it had become the practice to mock established values. The contrast between the brutality of the modern world and the poetic universe of the ballet is a bias of lightness in the middle of The Great War. Following this, a tremendous creative output emerged, starting with the collaboration of Satie, Cocteau and a group of new musicians known as Les Six. They wanted to break with the past and with impressionism, and to create an everyday music with a style closer to that of popular Parisian night life.

Saturday, May 2, 2015, 10 am – noon and 1:30-4:00 pm

The War Within the War / Adam Hochschild (Mother Jones and UC Berkeley)The First World War was such a momentous historical turning point that we forget that, at the time, many people questioned whether it should be fought at all. In each of the major countries that took part there was tension between those who felt the war was a glorious and necessary crusade and those who felt the immense scale of killing made participating in the war an act of madness. Nowhere was the conflict more dramatic than in Britain, where more than 20,000 men of military age refused to be drafted. Many conscientious objectors also rejected alternative defense work, and some 6,000 of them went to prison under extremely harsh conditions—the largest number of people, up to that time, ever imprisoned for political reasons in a Western democracy. This moral battle over the war is one that Adam Hochschild brings alive here in a talk accompanied by photographs, film and music.

Postwar Art and Gender Dynamics / Jennifer Shaw (Sonoma State University). The First World War fundamentally changed gender dynamics in Europe. Social changes resulting from the war led to the emergence of the “modern woman” or “garçonne.”—a woman who wore trousers, cropped her hair, drove a car, and even smoked. The modern woman was, in theory, both intellectually and sexually free and uninterested in giving up her freedom to return to the hearth and home. The Modern Woman was for some a positive figure of liberation and for others a source of great worry. The War had resulted in greater casualties than had ever been known. In France, anyone who didn’t fulfill traditional gender roles and thus help to boost the population was considered a threat to the reconstruction of France. Not surprisingly, cultural anxieties resulting from the trauma of WWI were also projected onto homosexuals. In the face of these perceived threats to the social order, the reconstruction of France involved a cultural campaign to promote traditional values through art and literature. At the same time, Dadaists, Surrealists and other members of the avant-garde challenged this conservatism and the cultural values that they perceived as having led to the destructive war.

Performance. Kabarett! Join the Matlock Duo–husband and wife team Daniel Lockert and Jenny Matteucci–as they recreate music from the golden era of the Weimar Republic, the period in Germany between World War 1 and 2. This period of music was renowned for its cultural and political cabarets (or Kabaretts). It was a period of enormous artistic creativity, where classical and popular music commingled and was heavily influenced by the new phenomenon of jazz. No subject was taboo in the world of the Weimar Republic, heavily centered in Berlin. We begin with the music of Frederick Hollander (1896-1976) and Mischa Spoliansky (1898-1985), culminating in the foremost representative of the style, Kurt Weill (1900-1950), with music from his popular “Die Dreigroschenoper” (3-Penny Opera) and beautiful art songs of the period.

“That Old Lie”: Literature and Art After World War I. Bruce Avery (SFSU).  In April of 1922 Konstantin Stanislavski, the co-founder of the Moscow Art Theater and the father of modern acting technique, told his friend and colleague Vladimir Nemirovich that he no longer wanted to produce Chekov’s works—the very plays that had established the MAT and Stanislavski’s own method and career.  His reason?  “After all we’ve been through it’s no longer possible to weep over the fact that an officer is going and leaving his lady friend behind.”  What they had “been through” was World War I, and Stanislavski’s response to that war is characteristic of an entire generation of writers and artists across the western world.  The problem for them was this: once they decided the old stories were no longer worth telling, what kind of stories could they tell?  The answer to that question produced a revolution in art and literature across the globe, an outpouring of paintings, stories, poems, novels, and plays new in both subject and form.

Panel Discussion/Q&A with all presenters, moderated by George Hammond (Humanities West)


Bruce Avery is Professor of Theater Arts at San Francisco State University. He holds a PhD in English Literature and Classics from UC Santa Cruz.  He has written on Spenser, Joyce, Kipling, Salman Rushdie, Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare, and pedagogy.  He is an actor and director, and has played Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, Polonius in Hamlet, Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Old CapuletinRomeo & Juliet, among others.  His directing credits include Venus in Fur, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and Woody Allen’s God, among others, and he will direct Much Ado About Nothing later this year.

Adam Hochschild began his journalism career as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Subsequently he worked as a magazine editor and writer, at Ramparts and Mother Jones. His work has been published in The New YorkerHarper’sThe AtlanticThe New York Times Magazine and other newspapers and magazines. He is the author of seven books, including King Leopold’s Ghost and Finding the Trapdoor, a collection of his shorter pieces. His acclaimed book, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 (2011), made The New York Times Bestseller List. Bury the Chains(2005) was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the LA TimesBook Prize; his magazine writing has won awards from the Overseas Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists and elsewhere. Hochschild has consulted for the BBC and has taught writing workshops for working journalists in the US, Britain, Zambia, South Africa and India.

Daniel Lockert, a multi-talented pianist/collaborator, was honored as the only American finalist at the first International Accompanying Competition held in Den Hague, the Netherlands. He has been praised for exhibiting a strong sense of rhythm, lovely variety of touches, and a convincing sense of historical style. He has performed throughout the US and around the globe, in Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Lockert has partnered with notable singers including Deborah Voight, Enrico di Giuseppe, Brenda Boozer, Janice Taylor and Christopheren Nomura, and with the Alexander String Quartet. Lockert studied piano from age of five, received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Loma Linda University, and studied for an advanced degree at USC in accompanying, studying with the renowned Gwendolyn Koldofsky. He is professor of Collaborative Piano at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. He has also taught at Julliard School, the SF Conservatory of Music, and Chapman University, and served on the coaching staffs at the SF Opera, Opera San Jose, and the Aspen Music Festival.

Internationally acclaimed concert pianist Eliane Lust is an American classical pianist who was raised in Belgium. Her principle teachers, legendary concert pianists Leonard Shure and György Sebök mark her education directly to the great classical German and Hungarian musical traditions of Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt. Lust is devoted to a tremendous repertoire range from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Ravel, Debussy and Liszt to such modernists as Frederic Rzewski, Charles Shere, Leon Kirchner, Horaţiu Rădulescu, Ron McFarland, Darius Milhaud and John Cage, most of whom she has worked with closely. Elianelust.com

Soprano Jenny Matteucci studied at the SF Conservatory of Music and holds a BFA and an MFA in Vocal Performance from Notre Dame de Namur University, where she now teaches on the voice faculty. A featured performer in Beach Blanket Babylon, other roles include Adelaide (Guys and Dolls), Annie (Annie Get Your Gun), Mickey (My One and Only), Nurse (Sunday in the Park with George), and Jenny (Three Penny Opera). In addition to performing with Theater Works and Marin Theater Company, she has recently appeared in “Berlin to Broadway,” “Little Women,” The Light in the Piazza, The Marriage of Figaro, Side by Side by Sondheim, and I Love a Piano. Her greatest passion is to perform her cabaret “For the Love of…” with her husband, Daniel Lockert. Jenny also directs Tri-Valley Rep Broadway Chorus and teaches voice in Oakland.

Jennifer L. Shaw’s work centers on historical analysis of issues such as modernity, the unconscious, gender, sexuality, subjectivity and nationalism in the visual arts. She received her Masters degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and her PhD from UC Berkeley. She has taught at UC Berkeley and Stanford and is currently Professor of Art History at Sonoma State University. Her publications include articles on nineteenth-century French paintings of the nude, French Impressionism, the Symbolist movement, the French national mural painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and the photomontages and writings of Claude Cahun. Shaw’s publications include Dream States: Puvis de Chavannes, Modernism and the Fantasy of France (2002) and Reading Claude Cahun’s Disavowals (2013).  Her bookExist Otherwise: the Life and Work of Claude Cahun was commissioned byReaktion Press, London and will appear shortly.

Tyler Stovall is a professor of French history and Dean of Humanities at UCSC. He has written several books and articles on modern French history, focusing on race, labor, colonialism, and postcolonialism. Major publications include The Rise of the Paris Red Belt(1990), Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light (1996), and The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France (co-edited with Sue Peabody, 2003). A new book, Paris and the Spirit of 1919: Consumer Struggles, Transnationalism, and Revolution, is forthcoming. He is working on a textbook, Universal Nation: a transnational history of modern France. He serves on the Humanities West Advisory Council.

Molly Wilson, a native of Richmond, VA, is a recent graduate of the SF Conservatory of Music. While in school Molly performed the role of Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) as well as Lady with a Hand Mirror (Postcard from Morocco) in a special co-production with Portland Opera. She was a featured soloist in the Conservatory’s new music concert series, the Blueprint Festival, performing David Del Tredici’s monodrama Dracula. She made her professional debut last summer with Pocket Opera singing the role of Anne Page (The Merry Wives of Windsor). As a Studio Artist with Opera Santa Barbara in their 2014-15 season, Molly performed the role of Lucy (The Telephone), and Elvira (L’italiana in Algeri). She received her Bachelor’s degree at Lawrence University.