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Krzysztof Rzepkowski

Assistant professor
University of Warszaw, Poland
Mill and Miller in Western Culture: an Anthropological Perspective
01 October 2010 -
30 June 2013
Social anthropology and ethnology

Krzysztof Rzepkowski, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of Warsaw. He is the author of a monograph on Late Antiquity comedy Querolus and of several articles on Classical Antiquity and the Italian Renaissance, published in international journals (Antiquité Tardive, Mnemosyne, Interpres. Rivista di studi quattrocenteschi). He is also initiator and co-editor of the bilingual series Renaissance Library, which includes commented translations of Italian humanists (Petrarch, Boccaccio, Bruni, Ficino). He has held fellowships from several foundations and international institutions, and has been a visiting scholar at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris (in 2008).

The inventing of the mill had enormous influence on the non-material culture of the Western societies, enriching them with both a vast number of folk songs, folk tales, and folk proverbs concerning millers as well as a rich symbolism of mill’s location, architecture, and equipment.
My project is aimed at presenting the problem diachronically on the one hand (from antiquity until the beginning of the twentieth century ) and synchronically on the other (a cultural cliché of the mill and miller present in folk tales of preindustrial Europe). I am carrying out researches on several levels at one time: historical (the origin and development of milling in Europe, milling law as a tool of exercising lords’ power), sociological (the position of the miller in the social fabric), ethnographical (the motive of the miller in folklore), and in literary studies (the motive of the miller in belles-lettres). I am concentrating on the anthropological perspective, which allows the better understanding of the formation of the discussed motives as well as their spread and constant popularity in the folk culture. The command of the classical languages, Old French, some Romance and Germanic languages, and also Slaves languages, gives me the necessary means to analyse and interpret written sources from virtually whole Western Europe from antiquity until present. It makes possible to convey the issue comprehensively, to understand the mechanisms of the permeation of various cultural artefacts between culturally and linguistically distinct groups, and to observe the convergence between the folklore of the Romance, Germanic, and Slavonic peoples.

Other or several periods