Monday, December 28, 2015

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic CFP

a guest post by Dan Remein

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic - November 3-5, 2016

Hi ITM readers.

With Donna Beth Ellard (University of Denver) and Tiffany Beechy (University of Colorado Boulder), I’ve been planning a conference for next November that we hope will grab the attention of the ITM readership:

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic is a three-day national conference that brings together scholars of early medieval Ireland, Britain, and Scandinavia to imagine cooperative, interdisciplinary futures for the study of North Atlantic archipelagos during the early medieval period.  Seafaring invites proposals for two kinds of sessions, seminars and workshops/forums, that will help imagine more collective and cooperative futures for scholars of the so-called "British" archipelago and/or reinvigorate the interdisciplinary mandate of early medieval studies.

Designed less around traditional conference presentations than as a "workspace," Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic invites proposals that will engage participants in mini-tutorials, masterclasses, writing workshops, and learning laboratories - all of which are designed to widen their linguistic competence, interdisciplinary methods, geographic familiarity, and temporal scope, within and beyond the early medieval period.

This conference, “Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic” came out of a discussion Donna Beth and I had last year after a workshop on translation theory, contemporary poetics, and Beowulf that I ran with her very smart and pleasantly intimate Graduate seminar on Beowulf of Spring 2015. The workshop produced a series of what we thought were really compelling and fresh readings of particular scenes of Beowulf, partially by forcing the study of Old English Poetry into conversation with some other disciplinary economies (namely, more avant-garde 20th century poetics).

We, and a lot of ITM readers, are trained in the study of Old English—and wouldn’t trade that for anything. But we all know that the world of Old English poetry is a) not only a world that takes place between roughly 450 and 1100 CE (the very fact that this world extends into 21st century classrooms alone suggests its longer and more complicated life), and b) a world that is much larger—geographically, ethnically, racially, and temporally—than the world summoned by the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Thinking through this, along with Donna Beth’s own work on race and ethnicity in Old English Studies, we worked through a number of ideas as to how to build more space for the study of Early Medieval Britain that could at once reframe literary and historical discussions outside the traditional disciplinary lines of Nationalized Literatures and open those discussions to a wide variety field-changing disciplines, from poetics to neuroscience. We think that what we’ve put together will take some very concrete steps towards formalizing spaces for disciplinary experimentation and de-nationalizing literary history in early medieval Britain and across the North Atlantic.

We also think that for this to work, certain kinds of workshop spaces need to be opened up: places to pick up new skills as much as present new readings, spaces where scholars from a variety of disciplines can work on some shared questions. So, we’re inviting proposals for seminars (intimate groups that will focus on a shared text, question, topic) and proposals for workshops or forums (focused on a particular skill, a philological crux, etc). 

We’ve decided to extend the deadline for Seminar Proposals to January 10. Take a look at the Conference Call here: [], and consider carving out a few moments of the holidays to consider how you might want to contribute.

Submit your seminar proposal to, subject line: "Seminar Submission."

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