Fiona Somerset, a professor of English and medieval studies at the University of Connecticut, will speak at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, in Academic Instructional Center West Room 204, about her research in media and literary genres through which medieval audiences engaged with difficult issues of public consent.
Somerset’s lecture will propose and explore the question, “Do those who remain silent when they know of another’s wrongdoing tacitly consent to it? Are they then also guilty?” Drawn from a larger book project about the history of this concept, Somerset will consider how it influenced medieval literary treatments of personal and group culpability. Her research challenges the audience to consider how this idea continues to influence our understanding of communal responsibility to the present day and why it might be important to recognize its origins in a theory of sin, rather than of crime or tort.
Somerset received her doctorate from Cornell University and currently teaches courses ranging from an introduction to “The Short Story” to graduate seminars on “Digital Materialities” and “The Piers Plowman Tradition.” She is an author of four books and editor of three essay collections.
This talk is sponsored by Western Washington University’s Department of Liberal Studies, with additional support from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the departments of philosophy, history, English and political science.