Max Harris

Position title: Emeritus Fellow (2018--)

Independent Scholar

Portrait image of Max Harris outdoors wearing a blue shirt and jacket.

Battling Demons: The Temptation of Antony in Art, Theater, Fiction, Film, and Fiestas

My study begins by comparing annual Mallorcan folk plays and processions representing the temptation of Antony with well-known paintings on the same subject by Michelangelo and Bosch. In the former, friendly demons perform a much-loved dance. In the latter, the tormenting demons are the stuff of nightmares. With this striking difference as my starting point, I go on to explore the story of Antony’s temptation in genres as varied as hagiography, popular devotion, fine art, saints plays, puppet plays, silent films, and Catalan fiestas. My intent is not only to understand these narratives, artworks, and performances on their own terms, but also to explore what human beings mean when we talk of “battling demons.”

Max Harris served as executive director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council, as well as teaching at the University of Virginia and, as a visiting professor, at Yale University. He is the author of six books: Theater and Incarnation (1990, 2nd ed. 2005), The Dialogical Theatre (1993), Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (2000), Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (2003), Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011), and Christ on a Donkey: Palm Sunday, Triumphal Entries, and Blasphemous Pageants (2019) on which he worked while a Solmsen Fellow at the IRH. His work has won the Otto Gründler Book Prize, and (twice) the David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies.