by Mary Kate Hurley
So far, 2016 has been an interesting year for Anglo-Saxonists, and not always for good reasons. Personally, I’ve been focusing on the positive – for example, Christina Lee’s fantastic work on “Ancientbiotics,” or the latest gold piece found in Norfolk, or the upcoming postmedieval issue on the Staffordshire Hoard.
But what struck me, back in January’s darker days, was how the first impulse of the majority of our field was to organize. Elaine Treharne and the MLA Forum on Old English joined with ISAS to put together gatherings at Kalamazoo and Leeds – places we could gather informally to discuss the issues pertinent to our scholarly lives, and enjoy the conviviality that our field is so adept at. Statements have been made. Collaborations, scholarly networks, and mentoring schemes are all in the works. The support, for all of them, has been phenomenal. And so, as Winter finally yields to Spring here in the Midwest, I’m feeling hopeful.
For me, one of the most exciting upcoming events—one that had been in the works for some time before January—is a conference that Daniel Remein (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and Donna Beth Ellard (University of Denver) are co-organizing November 3-5, 2016 at the University of Denver. The conference has been advertised here at ITM before. I’m particularly excited about “Seafaring” because of its format. From the conference website: “The primary workspace for this conference will be an eight-to-twelve-person seminar. Seminars will meet for two days of the conference in order to foster extended discussion. Seminar organizers may wish to ask participants to read their papers or summarize pre-circulated writing. Either way, the emphasis of the seminar is on protracted, constructive discussion: of an individual's paper, of connections between papers, and of the seminar topic.” The conference will also feature workshops including “Translation as Poesis,” Introductions to Old Irish and Middle Welsh, Runes, Podcasting, and Paleography. Plenary Speakers include Alf Siewers – one of my favorite ecocritical medievalists – and a joint presentation by Gillian Overing and Clare Lees—two scholars whose ethos of collaboration and generosity in the field has made it a far better place.
Another reason I’m so excited about this conference is that it marks my first formal collaboration with Jordan Zweck (University of Wisconsin-Madison). We’re co-organizing a seminar on the “Archives of the North Atlantic,” and are welcoming one-page proposals through March 15. Our seminar is deliberately broad, treating the archive in its theoretical, artefactual, ecocritical, book historical, and modern/medieval senses. We're open to papers that include metaphorical archives or ephemeral archives, and that treat the difficulty of assembling the proper archive if you're a lone medievalist or precarious faculty -- as well as strategies and innovations that help you cope. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: jlzweck [at] wisc [dot] edu or hurleym1 [at] ohio [dot] edu. Our session description is below. And be sure to check out the CFPs for other seminars (and our long-form CFP!) at the conference—this is an event at which there will most assuredly be something for every scholar.
Archives of the North Atlantic
This seminar explores the ephemeral archives of the North Atlantic. We welcome proposals that conceive the archive both broadly and transtemporally (ship burials, oceans, spolia, or literary texts as bearers of cultural memory), and traditionally (collections held by libraries or monasteries). How did medieval archives celebrate and mourn the inevitability of loss and erasure? Participants might consider the challenges of creating an archive for interdisciplinary work on the early Middle Ages. What research difficulties attend the process of rebuilding the daily or sensorial world of the period, including sound, visual culture, or domestic goods – the materials that do not always survive in the historical record?