Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NCS 2016 CFP, and thinking about the future of the field

by J J Cohen

I posted this on Facebook, where it has triggered a conversation on diversity in early fields of study that you may want to peruse. I want to ensure, though, that more people have access to the post than Facebook friends and followers. I worry that Facebook is a gated community and we have not realized what that gate means where access is concerned.

So. Two important, interrelated objectives for medieval studies: the fostering of a more ecologically aware field through an environmentality that connects present to past; and the creation of a more diverse discipline by researching and narrating more complicated [polyglot, multicultural, postcolonial] stories about the Middle Ages and by cultivating a more heterogeneous professoriat than the one we now possess. Well, these two things are important to me at least, and they motivate the two proposals I submitted for New Chaucer Society sessions. I am guessing some others share these concerns.
PLEASE consider submitting an abstract for NCS 2016 in London. My two session descriptions are below, and here is the link to the submission page.

4. Environing London
This roundtable gathers some recent work by medievalists and others on ecology and ecotheory. It asks participants to discuss, what happens when we consider London as an urban ecosystem that surrounds (that is, environs) overlapping systems of life while being environed by others (the Thames as estuarine microclimate, weather in constant flux or as part of a Little Ice Age, the long durations of geological history)? Short papers will provoke a lively discussion of the impress of ecosystem on text, and of the possibility of reading ecological change and catastrophe from the literary archive. This session will welcome papers that ruminate over longues durées, so that A Burnable Book meets the Book of the Duchess meets the fossil record and archives of ice and fire.

47. Are We Postcolonial Yet? Pale Faces 2016 
Paper panel
This session will ponder the ways in which literary medieval studies has both changed and resisted some profound challenges to its self-identity over the past decade and a half. Returning to the theme of Carolyn Dinshaw's 2000 Biennial Lecture in London ("Pale Faces: Race, Religion and Affect in Chaucer's Texts and Their Readers"), presenters will wonder about diversity among medievalists, the place of the personal, the matter of race, and the decolonization of medieval studies as a discipline. Sixteen years after Dinshaw's lecture, in the wake of important work by scholars like Ingham, Heng, Warren and Davis (among many others), we will ask if we are postcolonial yet, and wonder why we remain so pale.

No comments: