Friday, August 24, 2012

CFPs: Imagined Encounters, Fixers, Gender in Material Culture

by J J Cohen

Hello everyone, just back from Iceland and Maine and trying (mostly in vain) to catch up on email. I'll share a bit of the family travels here eventually, but for now: a few CFPs that will interest you.


CFP: “Imagined Encounters” 
Special Issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, Vol. 7 (March 2016)

José Saramago’s History of the Siege of Lisbon (1989) is structured around a transgressive proofreader who alters the course of history with the insertion of the word “not” in a historical text.  By negating a crucial statement in the text, the proofreader then sets out to rewrite the history of the siege of Lisbon. Medievalists must often reconstruct the nature of their objects and audiences in order to produce narratives on visual and literary interactions between images, texts, and their communities. Through excavations, primary texts, and artifacts, cultures of reception are articulated and experiences with objects and texts are interpolated. Similar to a proofreader’s ethical code, archaeologists and art historians operate with an infinite list of assertions and negations that define the possibility of certain inquiries and narratives. The scholar knows, for example, that an eleventh-century Byzantine viewer did not use an iPad for worship. Despite understanding the visualities of a Byzantine beholder and the workings of an iPad, the extrapolation of this encounter is verboten as a scholarly narrative.  Nevertheless, such encounters across time offer fruitful parallels and sites of generative critical resistance that operate within the same processes of imaginative and discursive (re)construction that a scholar deploys to produce any historical narrative. The “imagined encounter” enables the scholar to produce scholarship that is socially motivated, rooted in the concerns of the present while still offering critical feedback beyond anachronism. This volume’s essays encourage the suspension of disbelief and the negation of historical ‘givens’ in order to construct imagined (rather than imaginary) historiographies.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
-       Failed projects and dead ends in scholarship
-       Fictional worlds as discursive tools
-       Modern objects in medieval worlds
-       Medieval viewers/readers/users in modern worlds
-       Speculation and object-oriented ontologies
-       Queer temporalities and other forms of trans-temporal belonging

Please submit a 500-word abstract along with a CV to the volume’s editor, Roland Betancourt ( by 15 October 2012.


Kalamazoo 2013
Session sponsored by UVA Graduate Medieval Colloquium

At the 2012 Kalamazoo Exemplaria roundtable (“Literature, Theory, and the Future of Medieval Studies: Middle English and its Others”), the panelists raised a number of urgent questions about the current state of the long-standing relationship between medievalism and inter-disciplinarity, which has recently been threatened on several fronts. How can scholarship intervene in the crisis that endangers the survival of so-called “minority” departments and fields like French, Italian, German and Anglo-Saxon?  What have been the most successful strategies for resisting, complicating and reversing the English colonization of Beowulf, Marie de France, and Continental theory?  How might pedagogical and scholarly inter-disciplinary strategies be implemented in research and scholarship?  How have digital tools been used, and how might they be used in the future, to continue the project of decentering canonical texts from their nationalist origin myths and resituating them in the context of the global or transnational Middle Ages?  Other avenues of inquiry may include, but are not limited to, explorations of novel (and promiscuous) applications for fresh philological, inter-textual, and collaborative scholarly methods, particularly those that arise from “minority” disciplines.  We welcome experimental methods of cross-fertilization (collaboration across disciplines or periods, use of digital tools/media, and flirtation outside the bounds of fluency or departmental affiliation). We invite disciplines across the academy, including History and Art History, as well as the more recent scholarship of the Medieval Mediterranean and the Digital Humanities, to engage with this ongoing conversation. As Zrinka Stahuljak has argued, "our research cannot continue to privilege only contact between texts, but must add the dimension of contact between people(s), facilitated by 'fixers'—interpreters, local informants, guides, or negotiators." This is a call for fixers.

Please send abstracts of 250 words to Emma Solberg & Ellie Voss by Sep. 28.  


Call for Papers 
Annual Gender and Medieval Studies conference on the theme of 'Gender in Material Culture' 
Bath Spa University (Corsham Court campus)
4th to 6th January 2013
The Conference will consider the gendered nature of social, religious and economic uses of ‘things’, exploring the way that objects and the material environment were produced, consumed and displayed in medieval culture. Papers will address questions of gender from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, embracing literature, history, art history, and archaeology. Plenary papers will be delivered by Prof. Catherine Karkov, University of Leeds and Dr Simon Yarrow, University of Birmingham. 

From saintly relics to grave goods, and from domestic furnishings to the built environment, medieval people inhabited a material world saturated with symbolism. Gender had a profound influence on the production and consumption of this material culture. Birth charms and objects of Marian devotion were crafted most often with women in mind, whilst gender shaped the internal spaces of male and female religious houses. The material environment could evoke intense emotions from onlookers, whether fostering reverence in religious rituals, or inspiring awe during royal processions. How did gender influence encounters with these objects and the built environment? Seldom purely functional, these items could incorporate complex meanings, enabling acts of display at every level of society, in fashionable circles at European courts or amongst civic guilds sponsoring lavish pageants. Did gender influence aesthetic choices, and how did status shape the way that people engaged with their physical surroundings? In literary texts and in art, the depiction of clothing and objects can be used to negotiate symbolic space as well as class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity. Texts and images also circulated as material objects themselves, with patterns of transmission across the British Isles, the Anglo-Norman world, and between East and West. The exchange of such objects both accompanied and enacted cross-fertilisation in linguistic, political and cultural spheres.

Themes will include:
-  adornment, clothing and self-fashioning
-  the material culture of devotion-  objects and materialism
-  the material culture of children, adolescents and life cycle

-  emotion, intimacy and love-gifts
-  entertainment and games  
-  memory and commemoration

-  pleasure, pain, and bodily discipline 
-  production and consumption-  monastic material culture
-  material culture in literary texts

Please e-mail proposals of approximately 300 words for 20 minute papers to the GMS committee at by 14 September 2012. Please also include your name, research area, institution and level of study in your abstract. The Kate Westoby Travel Fund provides limited financial support for postgraduates and independent researchers who wish to attend the meeting. Please consult the GMS website for further details:

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