Friday, November 16, 2012

NCS Reykjavik Call for Thread Sessions

by J J Cohen

Many ITM readers will be interested in this call for proposals for sessions within the various threads. A general CFP comes in the spring.


Call for Thread Sessions

The NCS 2014 Program Committee for the 2014 Congress in Reykjavik has determined that this program will comprise three major elements: sessions tied to a particular thematic thread (see below), independent sessions, and independent seminars. This message is about the first of these: we are inviting proposals for sessions within threads, with a deadline of December 15, 2012. Such proposals should be sent to the thread convener(s), whose names and email addresses included with the descriptions below.

After these sessions and their organizers have been established, a general call for papers (for independent sessions, sessions within threads, and independent seminars) will go out in early February, 2013.

Sessions within threads may be proposed in the following formats:
 ·        Paper Panels (either 3 papers @ 20 minutes each or 4 papers @ 15 minutes each)
·         Roundtables (discussions by 5-7 speakers on a topic of common interest; speakers do not deliver papers, though they may speak from notes.)
Glenn Burger, Co-Chair, NCS 2014 Program Committee
Holly Crocker, Co-Chair, NCS 2014 Program Committee



Organizers: Anthony Bale ( and Sif Rikhardsdottir (

A large amount of critical work has been accomplished on relationships of East and West during the age of Chaucer, but much less has been done on the north-south orientation of late medieval literary culture. These two linked threads will begin to address this subject, one especially apposite for our meeting in Reykjavik.


This thread seeks proposals for sessions addressing the representation of northern Europe, the Nordic region, the North Sea and the North Atlantic, and the Baltic in Chaucerian and medieval English literature. What, for example, was the influence of the north-south axis of medieval cosmography in the age of Chaucer or of one’s self-identity as ‘Southern’ or ‘Northern’? What was the inheritance of Scandinavian folklore and language and the relationship of Nordic forms such as the saga to late medieval English literature? How are the qualities of the north, such as maritime culture, dark and cold, insular and peninsular identities, manifested in late medieval culture. What might be said about the unique features of the book crafts and manuscript arts of the Nordic Middle Ages, manuscripts and books of Chaucerian and Middle English texts in collections in the Nordic countries, and post-medieval collections of Nordic medieval manuscripts?


This thread seeks proposals for sessions addressing comparative studies of the North. What are the relations of the North to the East, West, or South, to dominant medieval discourses of orientation, or to ‘global’ and provincial cultural geographies. What emerges from comparative studies of Nordic and late medieval British culture, for instance Icelandic artes poeticae and those of late medieval England; conceptions of aristocracy and courtliness in Iceland and England; saints’ lives in England and the Nordic region; or different relationships to foundation myths, such as those of Troy or King Arthur? What can be gained from a study of cross-cultural contacts between Nordic and Baltic communities and those of late-medieval Britain, or of the border-crossing taking place in the North Atlantic and North Sea in the age of Chaucer? What is learned by considering the development of Middle English in relation to Scandinavian languages or the linguistic and textual communities active in the North?


Organizer: Alexandra Gillespie (

This thread hopes to bring together scholars working in any of the following areas - codicology, palaeography, book history, material culture, historical phenomenology, object-oriented philosophy, thing theory, the "descriptive turn," ecocriticism, philology (old and new), formalism (old and new), aesthetics, and historicism "after historicism". The goal is to initiate - or in some cases continue - new and innovative conversations about medieval books. We seek proposals for papers/panel and paper sessions that consider the status of the evidence that books bring to medieval studies; that imagine new uses for critical theory in book history; and that stage critical interventions using textual objects - manuscripts and early printed books, but also a broad range of medieval writing materials and technologies, from tablets to epigraphs, from parchment bookmarks to brass book fastenings. This thread will also include an innovative “poster session,” designed for delegates to speak to a specific artifact or example. Further details will follow in the February call for papers.


Organizer: Laura Ashe (

This thread explores periodization and its scholarly teleologies: the meanings and implications of being “early” or “late,” in literary, linguistic, and cultural development; the intellectual shaping of divisions and watersheds, “before” or “after” Chaucer, or Conquest, or renaissance/s, or R/reformation; nascencies and afterlives, hauntings and foreshadowings, the absence and presence of the past. It thus includes both medieval and modern historiographies, and the formation of intellectual fields as they have been constituted both in (medieval) chronologies, and over time in the academy. Sessions might consider new, old, and anti- and un- historicisms, both as critical practice and condition of understanding, or reassess the contribution of our changing theoretical frameworks, and of canonicity and the uncanonical. The place of Chaucer, and of Chaucer criticism, within historiographical contexts is key – as is the broadening of perspective which can make the Ricardian English efflorescence appear both belated and precocious. Such questions are fundamental to our understanding – or creation, or interpretation – of a national literary tradition, and sessions might interrogate the occlusions and losses of such narratives as well as their productive creativity.


Organizers: Rita Copeland ( and Karl-Gunnar Johansson (

Papers on translation and literacy as an intra-cultural, inter-cultural, and pan-European phenomenon are invited. This thread aims especially to feature literary (and other textual) engagements between Scandinavia and Continental Europe and/or Britain and Ireland, including textual adaptation and genre imitation, the transformation of epic and romance in saga literature, European reception of Scandinavian themes, the movement of learned Latinities, Scandinavian reception and transformation of classical antiquity, and the movement of manuscripts across cultures. Proposals on this featured subject are warmly encouraged. We will consider proposals for papers dealing with the earlier Middle Ages as well as the later Middle Ages. Please send proposals to both Rita Copeland and Karl-Gunnar Johansson.


Organizers: Ethan Knapp ( and Matthew Boyd Goldie (
We invite session topics and descriptions for a thread on the movement, networks, and economies of people, objects and information. Sessions might address: networks of exchange on the economic and cultural levels; movement as a narratological and economic category; the spatial imaginary in medieval narrative and cartography; intellectual networks as constituted through relations of coterie composition, reception and source affiliation.


Organizers: Alastair Minnis ( and Daniel Wakelin (
Literary criticism long ago steered away from “mere chatter about Shelley,” renouncing a deeply-entrenched biographical bias; and its “intentional fallacy” was confronted nearly seventy years ago. Yet biography remains one of the scholarly genres with the greatest readership, and historicist criticism often draws on biographical information. This thread will explore different uses of biography in Chaucerian Studies. We seek proposals for sessions about such questions as: What shape should Chaucerian biography take in the 21st century? Do we dare to read Chaucer’s works for signs of biographical life? What do we now know about Chaucer’s friends, patrons and enemies, and does this benefit literary criticism? Does Chaucer look any different when viewed within the wider European context which recent scholarship has opened up? Is the ongoing investigation of Chaucer’s scribes throwing any clear light on his life and early afterlife? What evidence is there for Chaucer’s writing processes or indeed for the very fact of his authorship in some cases; is everything in the current canon secure? How has Chaucerian life-writing changed over the centuries, and what value do such developments have for present-day Chaucerians?


Organizers: Robyn Malo ( and Nicole Smith (

Confessional narrative and its branches--virtue and vice, mercy and forgiveness, conduct and catechism--are fundamentally rooted in a set of practices that range from the sacramental and doctrinal to the secular and communal. While it is clear that confession provided a relatively uniform way to address issues of sin, evidence suggests that categories of conduct were continually under revision. For instance, laypeople and clerics alike modified the emphases of ecclesiastical doctrine to reflect their own lived concerns. Confessional narratives in late medieval literature serve as witnesses to both the wide influence of penitential theology and the desire to adapt it when and where necessary, even in what might be termed "secular conduct writing." Our thread, "Handling Sins," is designed to explore these very issues. We seek proposals for sessions that might address genre and the form of confession; sin in works by Chaucer and his contemporaries; catechism and codicology; or remedial virtues and their sustainment of communities. Session proposals with creative and broad conceptions of "handling sins" are most welcome. Please submit them to both thread conveners.


Organizers: Seeta Chaganti ( ) and Daniel Wakelin (

This thread will explore medieval words on the page as they have been shaped and reshaped through pre- and postmodern readerly response and theoretical discourse. Such shaping can occur through means as diverse as book production, theories of poetics, readers’ responses, and modern critical method. The thread will combine different varieties of attention to the textual surface, from poetic formalism and media theory to philology and palaeography. How might we newly theorize late-medieval poetics beyond the language of aureation, looking instead toward demotic, comic, or strategically plain language; toward writers’, scribes’ readers’ and critics engagement with etymology and vernacular language history; toward material culture’s intersections with poetry? What are some ways of rethinking medieval scribes’ and readers’ experiences of literary language and form, or of rethinking what form meant to medieval audiences? What roles did form play on the page? Off the page in aural encounters with texts? How did readers perceive language and form across different pages, in interactions among manuscript versions? In the textual space between poets and readers are scribes – how might we reconceive our interpretations of scribal response to literary language, form and occasion? Finally, how might current engagements with critical discourses such as new formalsm, media studies, performance theory, or post-historicist inquiry inflect all these questions concerning the encounter with the medieval text?


Organizers: Andrew Cole ( and Maura Nolan (

This thread will focus on the rich and often neglected category of medieval sensation: how medieval artists represented sensory perception, what was perceptible to their audiences, and how these categories illuminate literary, theological, and historical texts, as well as medieval manuscripts and books. It will consider the fullness of the medieval sensorium and the plenitude of perception medieval artists enjoy in their synaesthetic experiences—the sounds they see, the colors they hear, the words they touch. We ask panelists to think through the categories of knowledge, sensation, and perception to learn more about what people of the past are telling themselves, each other, and us about their engagements with the world. Our challenge is to open ourselves to the category of experience in the Middle Ages, to learn what is touching about abstraction, what is tasteful about material culture, what sensation meant then and means now.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this! The different threads seem to cover a really broad area. It cannot but turn out to be an interestingly interdisciplinary congress.