Kzoo 2019 cfp: Periodization

A call for papers for a Special Session at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI (May 9-12, 2019). E-mail 250-word abstracts to by September 15, 2018. This paper panel is in sequence with Katie Little‘s roundtable, “Periodization I: Do We Need It?”

Periodization II: What Can We Do about It?

No one in the Middle Ages thought they were living in ‘the Middle Ages,’ of course. The middle of what? By the very nature of their research area, medievalists are well aware of the traps and ironies of historical periodization. When we become conscious of the marginalization of medieval studies in our institutions, we join periodization’s discontents. Since 2000, widely discussed books and collections by James Simpson (Reform and Cultural Revolution, 2002), Jennifer Summit and David Wallace (“Medieval/Renaissance: After Periodization,” 2007), and Kathleen Davis (Periodization and Sovereignty, 2008) have criticized the institutional status quo and pointed ahead to new periodizations or even to the end of historical periods as we know them.

This panel provides a timely forum for reconsidering the question of periodization and directing it to new research problems. For example, all the work mentioned in the previous paragraph concerns the medieval/modern periodization, but scholars within individual disciplines must grapple with other periodizations: late antique / medieval; Old English / Middle English within medieval English studies; high medieval / late medieval within continental European medieval studies.

Moreover, Davis asserts that medieval studies must build bridges with postcolonial studies if medieval studies is to avoid Eurocentrism even as it attacks presentism. That is, the issue of time and temporality has been bound up, in Western historiography, with the issue of space and spatiality. To question the medieval/modern divide may also amount to questioning the European/non-European divide. A clutch of edited volumes since 2000 attests that this transdisciplinary synthesis is already under way (The Postcolonial Middle Ages, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, 2000; Postcolonial Moves: Medieval through Modern, ed. Patricia Clare Ingham and Michelle R. Warren, 2003; Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World, ed. Davis and Nadia Altschul, 2009).

This panel seeks submissions that could address a variety of questions from any disciplinary perspective, including:

  • How have our scholarly predecessors divided historical time?
  • Who has, historically, decided how to divide time, and why?
  • What are the negative or positive implications of those divisions for a particular subfield, approach, author, or text?
  • What is the relation between temporality and spatiality, ‘medieval’ and ‘Europe’?
  • What role do, or should, programs or institutes of medieval studies play in addressing periodization?
  • If periodization is an institutional and/or intellectual problem, what can be done about it?

Kzoo 2018 cfp: Elections before Elections

A call for papers for a Special Session at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI (May 10-13, 2018). E-mail 250-word abstracts to by September 15, 2017.

Elections before Elections: Insular Political Prophecy

Inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s twelfth-century Prophecies of Merlin, the tradition of political prophecy in Britain covered numerous centuries and languages, from the twelfth century to the seventeenth and from Welsh to English, French, Latin, and Scots. The genre of political prophecy combines conventionality and topicality in unfamiliar ways, presenting the recent political past as an imagined future and serving (sometimes simultaneously) as political propaganda and social protest. Relatively understudied, prophecies are often unedited and are to be found in large, incompletely catalogued manuscript collections. The publication of Victoria Flood’s Prophecy, Politics and Place in Medieval England (2016), a major study, marks renewed interest in this strange and urgent mode of writing. Political prophecy has obvious relevance to contemporary national politics, particularly regarding the relationship between political discourse and truth (notably, in the outrage over fake news in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election) and the rhetorical use of the future for political purposes.

This session will solicit papers addressing a general scholarly audience, concerning political prophecy in Latin or any of the vernaculars of Britain, the manuscript tradition of prophecy, and medieval insular politics. Possible topics include: regnal politics and propaganda; the history and politics of individual texts; regionalism; multilingualism; the relationship between writing and medieval insular (proto-)national politics; new texts discovered in the archives; prophecy and other genres of writing; texts and manuscripts as evidence for social history; and literary form.

New England cfp: Charlemagne’s Ghost

The 44th Annual New England Medieval Conference will take place at MIT in Cambridge, MA on Saturday, October 7, 2017. The conference theme is Charlemagne’s Ghost: Legacies, Leftovers, and Legends of the Carolingian Empire. The keynote speaker will be Simon MacLean of the University of St. Andrews, speaking on “What Was Post-Carolingian about Post-Carolingian Europe?”

Abstracts due June 1. More information here.

Kzoo 2016 cfp: Late Old English Verse

A call for papers for a Special Session at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI (May 12-15, 2016). Send abstracts to by September 15, 2015.

Late Old English Verse

This session focuses on Old English poetry datable to between c. 950 and 1150. Many of these poems are embedded in late annals in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; most of them were snubbed by being excluded from the standard edition of Old English verse, the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records (Columbia University Press, 1931-53). As a result, late Old English poems as a group are severely understudied. Indeed, because Old English verse is written out in unlineated text blocks in manuscript, and because most theories of Old English meter are based on putatively pre-950 poems like Beowulf, scholars disagree about the exact number of extant late Old English poems. As recently as 2007, Thomas Bredehoft could identify an entirely new, never-before-discussed poem. This session explores what the study of short, late, and (often) topical Old English poems might contribute to critical conceptions of Anglo-Saxon literary culture and Old English literary history.

Possible paper topics include: metrical form; manuscript contexts and textual transmission; historical allusions; authorship and audience; problems of definition between verse and prose; and transitions to Middle English language and literary cultures.

NCS 2016 cfp: Chaucer’s Langland

A call for papers for a roundtable at the 2016 New Chaucer Society conference in London (July 10-15). Co-organized by Stephanie Batkie and myself. Submit abstracts using this interface.

Chaucer’s Langland

Many scholars have discerned evidence of the influence of Piers Plowman on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. What is the literary-historical significance of this “obligatory conjunction” between two major Middle English poems? This session seeks to enrich the current critical discussion about the cultural and literary resonance of Langland’s alliterative poem for Chaucer and his audience. Possible topics for short position papers include Chaucer’s perceptions of the alliterative meter; the nature of Chaucer’s access to manuscripts of Piers Plowman; Chaucer and Langland as London poets; Piers Plowman as a pre-Ricardian poem; and the overlapping literary genres of the two poetic projects, especially dialogue and estates satire.