Bao Huiyi: Don’t Fall Asleep in the Garden: The “Paradise” in Medieval Poetry and Images

2022.11.05 Saturday 14:00


2F, The Cloister Apartments, 62 West Fuxing Road, Shanghai

Guest Speaker: Bao Huiyi



The garden is either a place of divine grace where angels descend, or a labyrinth of lust and pleasure where the mind is seduced, either an Epicurean school where virtue is cultivated, or a land of decadence depicted by Bosch. In medieval dream-poetry, the protagonist often falls into dreamland and wanders into otherworldly places in a hortus conclusus, and such enclosed gardens can be subsumed under a broader concept of landscape: the locus amoenus, pleasant place which appears frequently in the writings of classical authors such as Horace and Virgil.

Why was the garden enclosed? How did the fairyland become a dangerous place? For what reason did the land of pleasure transform into the land of gluttony (Cockaigne)? How was the imagery of the garden in the Helleno-Hebrew culture changed in the European Middle Ages? How did Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Persian miniature painters attempt to reconstruct paradise on canvas? Through the analysis of a series of medieval garden texts and images, this lecture retraces and asks these questions, and explores the possibilities for individuals in the here and now to construct and refine the garden as an archetypal psychic landscape.

About the Guest Speakers

Huiyi Bao(PhD, University College Dublin) is associate professor at the Department of English, Fudan University, and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Peking University. Her research interests include Old and Middle English literature, textual-pictorial engagement in medieval manuscripts, literary cartography, world poetry. She has published one monograph in English, Shaping the Divine: The Pearl-Poet and the Sensorium in Medieval England; two monographs in Chinese, The Art of Middle English Lyrics,  Mirror Maze: The World of Shakespeare’s Sonnets; four books of essays, Scriptorium, A Portrait of the Translator as a Young Woman, The Rose of Sharon, Annal of the Emerald Isle; and a book of poetry, I Sit on the Edge of the Volcano. She is the translator of fourteen books from English to Chinese, including Complete Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, Good Bones by Margaret Atwood, Imram and Isle: Works of Four Contemporary Irish Poets. She co-edited European Romantic Literature: A Reader’s Guide, and the bilingual anthology Homings and Departures: Selected Poems from Contemporary China and Australia. 

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.