Essaying Design / The Design of the Essai: Vittoria Fallanca on Montaigne

What is the design of the Essais? Montaigne often qualifies it directly: it is a design that is ‘wild’ and ‘extravagant’ perhaps also ‘monstruous’. But Montaigne also often describes it apophatically – in terms of what it is not, does not do. In this talk, I discuss what some of Montaigne’s uses of the word design (‘dessein’) can reveal about the kind of project constituted by the Essais, and reflect on what these insights can reveal about the development of design as a notion in Renaissance Europe and beyond.

Vittoria Fallanca is Career Development Fellow and Tutor in French at New College. With OUP, she is currently turning her DPhil thesis on Montaigne and the concept of dessein into a book entitled The Design of Montaigne’s Essais, the first study to read the Essais through the lens of design. Her post-doctoral project traces the lives and uses of the figure of Anteros in Renaissance France. This project, entitled The Anterotic Lyric, looks at the ways in which lyric poets mobilised Anteros to construct counter-narratives to the Aristotelian model of love as mutuality and reciprocity.

This is a hybrid event. Vittoria’s talk will be streamed on Zoom from 5.30pm – 6pm (UK time). Then there will be a discussion which will only be in-person, from 6pm – 6.30pm.

Please wear masks and practice social distancing.

Convened by Luke Young (Oriel College, Oxford).