Peter Jaeger: Martyrologies

Martyrologies opens this Friday at 12.30pm, Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing, School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury. Closing time: 6.30pm Saturday 10th May. Admission: free. The installation will run for the duration of the Fear and Loathing: Phobia in Literature and Culture conference, but you do not have to be a delegate to attend.

What do modernist and contemporary traditions of found poetry and conceptual wri ting have to do with Christian history? The sound installation Martyrologies borrows and recontextualizes sentences drawn from Bede, John Foxe, Thieleman van Braght, and other Christian accounts of martyrdom, in order to underline the paradoxical inscription of subjectivity found in these early texts.

Each sentence in the poem was selected specifically because it represents a martyr’s death, and the surrounding story of events leading up to that death has been omitted. Martyrs gain identity precisely at the moment of their own demise 3B in effect, their death is the event which gives them historical subjectivity.

The text’s montage of found sentences defamiliarizes its source material, thereby interrogating connections between narrative and religious identity, and reworking traditional accounts of European religious history. An earlier version of Martyrologies was published in Jaeger’s Eckhart Cars (Salt 2004). This event is organised by Amy Evans as part of the Fear and Loathing: Phobia in Literature conference in the Centre for Gender, Sexuality and Writing at the University of Kent, 9th-10th May 2014.