Monday, September 07, 2009

CFP: Romance Temporalities

by J J Cohen, on behalf of Amy Burge

This panel should be right up the alley of many ITM readers. [What does 'right up the alley' even mean? Am I being anachronistic in using the idiom for a medieval research project? Should I have said 'right inside the scriptorium'? Anyway ...]

Proposed Sessions by the Medieval Romance Society

45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 2010

Romance Temporalities

In recent years, medievalists have increasingly considered the medium of time as a dynamic position from which to analyze the medieval as we explore and question our own temporally determined relationships to the period we study. As evidenced by the publication of criticism such as Robert Rouse’s The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England in Middle English Romance, this heightened awareness of our temporal distance from our scholarly subjects has also encouraged us to explore the conflations, confusions, uses, and abuses of time and periodization at work in medieval literature itself. We are no longer satisfied with the idea of histories and chronologies—whether purportedly factual or openly fictional—as linear, progressive, or innocent. Medieval romance, in particular, offers today’s readers a rich array of timely challenges, from temporal discontinuities and ahistorical moments to shifting verb tenses. The three proposed sessions of the Medieval Romance Society aim to address questions such as, “How does time function in romance?” “How does our modern understanding of medieval romance infiltrate contemporary literature?” “How do we teach medieval romance today in fun, accessible, and responsible ways?”

The Medieval Romance Society would like to invite papers that explore how we understand medieval romance in our contemporary world, both as critical researchers and as teachers of romance. We value interdisciplinarity and welcome proposals from graduate students as well as established scholars. Though papers should be presented in English, we hope to include papers on romances of multiple medieval languages. One-page abstracts (or 250 word abstracts for the roundtable) should be submitted by September 15 to Amy Burge at

“Once Upon a Time:” Romance Temporalities

Critics have long acknowledged the “once upon a time” trope at work in medieval romance, but we are increasingly uneasy with the innocence and “merely” fantastic or escapist motivations assumed in its deployment. This session invites reconsiderations of what kinds of temporal systems are at work in medieval romance (and why), how romance makes use of revisionary chronologies, how it imagines its pasts and futures.

Temporal Touching Roundtable: Medieval Romance and Popular Culture

Although medieval romance and popular culture are distinct genres, scholars increasingly recognize the productivity of blurring the medieval/modern divide in order to examine the relevance of the medieval to the modern. This roundtable session aims to explore the transmission of medieval romance into modern popular culture and to investigate the benefits of diachronic research to medieval studies.

Time for Romance? Teaching Medieval Romance in a Modern World

How do we, as teachers, mediate the “otherness” of medieval romance in the classroom? On the one hand, we have a responsibility to help students learn about medieval cultures as distinct from our own; on the other hand, we want to help them view medieval literature as accessible and enjoyable as an object of study. This session invites papers by teachers of medieval romance to share their strategies and engage in critical exploration of the challenges of teaching romance, particularly to undergraduates.

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