Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


RESCHEDULED: The Falcon as Fulcrum

10 May 2023, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

British Museum, 14th C ivory mirror case

Eliza Zingesser from Columbia University will give a talk called 'The Falcon as Fulcrum', drawn from her current book project, 'Lovebirds: Avian Erotic Entanglements in Medieval French and Occitan Literature'

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Professor Patrick Bray


IAS Forum
G17, ground floor, South Wing
UCL, Gower Street, London
United Kingdom

Change of date

This event has been rescheduled due to planned industrial action on the original date. Instead of 15th March it will now take place on 10th May 2023.

This talk will be drawn from my current book project, Lovebirds: Avian Erotic Entanglements in Medieval French and Occitan Literature. Lovebirds, globally, is about the way in which birds mediated the experience of eroticism in the Middle Ages. In my talk, “The Falcon as Fulcrum,” I will argue that birds of prey shaped both erotic subjectivity and object choice. I will show, more specifically, that the bird of prey often acted as a fulcrum in two ways: first, it caused shifts in positions of subjective identification, causing the pursuer to imagine himself as quarry or vice versa. Second, it caused shifts in love objects, leading a character or speaker’s affections to be redirected to someone else. This flux, I suggest, results from the triangulated scenario of hunting with its multiple positions of identification (falconer, bird of prey, quarry). I show that birds shape subjectivity and plot in profound ways, and that they have a type of agency in medieval narratives that has not been recognized before. My corpus will include visual materials including the ivory mirror case pictured here.

This event has been organised by the Centre for French and Francophone Research at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.

Image credit: British Museum, 14th C ivory mirror case, 1856,0623.109 (Dalton 376)

About the Speaker

Eliza Zingesser

Associate Professor of French at Columbia University

Professor Zingesser is a specialist of medieval French and Occitan literature, with a particular focus on animal studies, cultural and linguistic contact, and gender and sexuality.

More about Eliza Zingesser