Showing posts with label conferences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conferences. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Call for Papers: The Exegetical Turn (Kalamazoo 2014)

Killing a heretic, killing a dragon.
BL Harley 2886

Biblical verses were never "naked" in the early Middle Ages. They were clothed in the heavy garments of tradition & weighed down with the burden of commentary. We have the tendency to see an 11th-century monastic chronicler cite Jeremiah and think "Jeremiah," when we shoul dbe thinking, with the author & intended reader, "Hrabanus," "Haimo," "Paschasius," and "Jerome." We tend to forget that men of the early Middle Ages, and the 10th and 11th centuries especially, encountered the Bible through Carolingian and Patristic commentaries. 

This session will therefore seek to see what precisely we may have missed, to reconsider historical, literary, and/ or artistic artifacts from the Middle Ages in light of the exegetical tradition in which they were created. Then, in turn, this session will allow us to ask if this new understanding of how these objects were created and received fundamentally change how we understand the European Middle Ages itself.     

Session sponsored by Virginia Tech Medieval & Early Modern Studies.

Proposals, with Participant Information Form, should be emailed as PDFs to Prof. Matthew Gabriele by September 15, 2013.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Conferences and the Medievalist Community

One of the new things we've been trying on this blog is Facebook integration (shorter: we have a Facebook page), following the lead of places like In the Middle. Anyway, I posted something on my personal Facebook page on Sunday 6/16, referring to a number of complaints I saw about entitlement and the process of selecting sessions at Kalamazoo. We can talk about that if people like but, to my mind, the conversation got really interesting.  Essentially, one person suggested that the new Medieval Studies conference at SLU would pick up disgruntled attendees of Kalamazoo. That prompted my response below.

I then asked (after some more discussion) if I could bring that discussion public and the feedback was positive, so here it is. I don't want to use other peoples words without permission, so I'll try to summarize and then offer some thoughts.

One person keyed on my use of "need" and rightly questioned by what standard we'd judge that. Others chimed in to say that we do indeed need multiple conferences because of the disciplinary and temporal diversity in our field, but perhaps as supplementary to existing conferences. This could be modeled on the MLA, which has 1 main conference but then respected regional conferences as well (and I know the American Academy of Religion and American Sociological Association also operate on this model). Further complicating this, however, it was pointed out that even with this larger/ smaller conference structure around 1 organization, there are numerous other groups that host conferences that might be of interest -- the AHA, MESA, the 3/4 (not sure SLU is among the big 3 yet, even if it might be someday) medieval conferences, above, not to mention any independent conferences that might appear in any given year.

And that's kind of my point. As medievalists, we don't have "our" conference. And why can't we? What we have now is this:
  • Medieval Academy -- used to be old, stodgy, and patriarchal, though that's better -- but not fixed -- now (or maybe I'm just older). Now not trusted because of the stuff with the former Executive Directors, though I think both sides overplayed their hands and didn't come off looking all that well. 
  • Kalamazoo -- big conference, established. Democratic in culture in that rank/ prestige seem to matter much less here than anywhere else. Can be overwhelming to newbies sometimes. Has gained a reputation for a distinct "literary" bent to its program. This year, some have complained about the selection of panels and how they didn't get what they "deserve." The location is difficult to get to and it occurs at a difficult time for a lot of academics who aren't quite done with their semesters.
  • Leeds -- big conference, established. Has gained a reputation for a distinct "historical" bent to its program. Expensive. New venue in the city center could be good or bad. Relatively democratic in culture. A bit insular, in that this seems to be "the" medieval conference that UK academics attend every year. This can be good or bad -- good if you know people, alienating if you don't.
  • SLU -- new (this is its 1st year). Remains to be seen what it is and what'll become of it.
So what to do? Can one of these serve? Should one of these serve?

I don't have a good answer to this but I want to see what more people have to say about it. Let me, however, close with a few observations.
  1. Let me observe that there's only 1 "big" European medieval conference, whereas there's 2/3 in the US. 
  2. Let me observe too that many of the complaints/ issues about specific conferences have a disciplinary tinge to them -- they don't like this or that because of what's there, which isn't the "right kind" of medieval stuff they're interested in. Too literary or too historical...
  3. Finally, let me observe that this is a particular issue to me as we observe travel budgets becoming increasingly meager. I've always been willing to dip into my own personal income to go to conferences and have been fortunate enough to be able to do so, but I know that that's not a common thing. Grad students, assistant professors, adjuncts, etc. don't have that luxury. Wouldn't it be nice to have 1 large conference somewhere that everyone, across discipline and specialization, could meet to collaborate? Is that a pipe dream?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

MAA 2013

This past weekend, I attended my first meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, and had a great time at it. There were many good papers, good conversations, all with new friends as well as old. While I would love to write a full review of the conference, I find myself back to routine and crunched with the last weeks of the semester looming ahead of me. But I did tweet at various times throughout the conference, and constructed a story of these tweets over on Storify. I share it here, so that you may have a sense of my experience, at least in fits and bursts.

Here is my story (to read it chronologically, scroll to the bottom and follow it back to the top):

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CFP: NEMSC Graduate Student Conference, March 16, 2013

I am currently in the midst of co-organizing a rotating graduate conference, which will be hosted this academic year by the University of Connecticut (my home institution). So I'm posting the CFP here in hopes of getting the word out to any and all interested attenders. Please feel free to pass it on!

30th Annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, March 16, 2013
University of Connecticut

Abstracts from graduate students are now being accepted for the 30th annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference, to be held at the University of Connecticut on Saturday, March 16, 2013. This year’s theme will be "Collaborations."

"Collaborations" is a concept that pervades both the medieval period and the field of medieval studies, and provides a major theme for considering a variety of relevant subjects. In its breadth, this theme is meant to encompass a wide array of topics from graduate students working in all areas of medieval studies. Toward this end, we welcome papers from an assortment of disciplines, including:

Anthropology — Archaeology — Art History — Byzantine Studies — Classical Studies —Digital Humanities — Gender Studies — History — History of Science — Islamic Studies — Judaic Studies — Language Studies — Literary Studies — Mediterranean Studies — Manuscript Studies — Musicology — Philosophy — Religious Studies — Theology

We also look forward to papers that incorporate or deal with notions of interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary methods; and that examine the theme of collaborations theoretically.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
Collaborations in medieval culture
Receptions of the medieval in the modern world
Collaborations in academia
Interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary methodologies
Theories of collaboration

The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2013. Abstracts of up to 250 words should be e-mailed to Brandon Hawk and Patrick Butler at Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length and read in English. Graduate students whose abstracts are selected for the conference will have the opportunity to submit their papers prior to the conference to be considered for the Alison Goddard Elliott Award for the Outstanding Conference Paper.

For more information about NEMSC, see our website:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Among the Barbarians

I'll soon be attending my very first conference of the AAR -- American Academy of Religion. I'm hoping to blend in but if you don't hear back from me in a week or so, send in the marines.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Dreaming of Portland

While we might have celebrated the official start to summer a few days ago, it's hard not to feel like much of the summer has already passed me by.  At the end of July, I'll be attending the 18th Biennial Congress of the New Chaucer Society, in Portland, Oregon (see here for the program). Given that I'll be driving from New Orleans to Portland, this trip will take up a large, albeit enjoyable (one hopes), chunk of my time.  So, though there's about two months of summer left, the Congress will be a major dividing mark, and I expect the time post-trip will largely be given to Fall prep and odds and ends.

I'll be participating in a Seminar session called "Romance and the Neighbor/Stranger." The whole event looks excellent, so be sure to click the link for the program.  And better yet, make sure you're there! I mean, come on, I'm driving across the country, so get thee on a plane!

As a motivator to put my nose to the proverbial grindstone, I'm posting here the abstract for my paper. When the paper takes more form, I'll post more.

“Monsters and Other Neighbors: The Stranger Knight in Medieval Romance” 

One of the most familiar and recurring tropes in medieval romance is that of the stranger knight who offers a challenge to the Arthurian court, and after some adventure or trial by combat, is welcomed or re-integrated into the communal fold. As a genre, medieval romance conjures the fantasy of the domesticated stranger, offering a figure that at first seems to undermine political stability but ultimately ends up reinforcing bonds of fellowship. What is most intriguing about this stranger knight that kick-starts so many medieval narratives, however, is that he is often someone who should be part of the political order but has been disenfranchised or somehow excluded. For example, the figure of Sir Gromer Somer Joure in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle makes his challenge because Arthur had broken an agreement with him. I would argue that, instead of affirming social bonds, the knightly challenger fluctuates between excluded and included with alarming ease, not necessarily following a linear development. The political theology of the Neighbor, particularly as it is interrogated in Slavoj Zizek’s “Neighbors and Other Monsters,” presents some productive ways to think about the stranger who transforms into the familiar. Zizek returns repeatedly to the problem of the inherent ontological monstrosity of the Neighbor, something that I would suggest is made explicit in many medieval romances. The stranger knight often exhibits features of the monstrous, like the Green Knight’s hue and gigantic stature, or like Sir Gromer’s wildness. Further, the markers of monstrosity do not always fully disappear after the stranger has been integrated into the larger group. In this project, I will explore the ways that the stranger knight intersects with the monstrous as read through the theory of the Neighbor. My specific focus will be on (but not limited to) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and how it stages the transformation from monstrous stranger to unsettling neighbor. While medieval romances with a stranger knight often attempt to perform a narrative of inclusion, I argue that the genre reveals a fundamental anxiety about the potential monstrosity of the neighbor, both in terms of the philosophical concept and of real social relationships between individuals and communities. 

Edit: I left out this paragraph by accident.  In the Introduction to The Neighbor, the authors have the following: "Finally, and for the concerns of the present volume most importantly, does the commandment call us to expand the range of our identifications or does it urge us to come closer, become answerable to, an alterity that remains radically inassimilable? In this spirit, one might paraphrase Max Horkheimer's old motto from the late 1930s "If you do not want to talk about Fascism, then shut up about capitalism": if you do not want to talk about Odradek, Gregor Samsa, and the Muselmann, then shut up about your love for a neighbor.'" I'd like to have "If you do not want to talk about Sir Gromer or the Green Knight, then shut up about your love for a neighbor" as the subtitle to my paper.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Modern Medieval at Kalamazoo 2012

It's that time of year again, for the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI. Just this week, thousands will descend on the university for full days of medieval talks, meetings, revelry, and all that comes with it. It appears that some of the Modern Medieval bloggers have their hands in several of the sessions throughout the conference, and I wanted to highlight them here for any and all readers who are interested. We hope to see you there!

Here are our participations:

Session 65: A Reckoning: Translation as Cultural Change and Culture Clash
Organizer: Larry J. Swain, Bemidji State Univ.; Mary K. Ramsey, Eastern Michigan Univ.
Presider: Larry J. Swain
"Hiding or Highlighting: Treatment of Sources in Old English Translations"
Jonathan Davis-Secord, Univ. of Texas–Arlington

"Translating Christology in the Hêliand and Old English Poetry"
Bruce Gilchrist, McGill Univ.

"The Transmission of Political Tradition: Translations from Arabic and Persian in the Pre- and Early Ottoman Period"
Yasin Arslantas, Bilkent Univ.

Session 114: Beowulf and the Hêliand in Comparative Cultural Perspective
Organizer: Larry J. Swain, Bemidji State Univ.; Kathleen J. Meyer, Bemidji State Univ.
Presider: Kathleen J. Meyer

"What Can the Meter of The Hêliand Tell Us about the Date of Beowulf?"
Thomas Bredehoft, West Virginia Univ.

"What’s Wyrd about Christianity in Beowulf and the Hêliand?"
M. Breann Leake, Univ. of Connecticut

"Beowulf and The Hêliand: “Wyrd,” “Word,” and the Poetics of Cultural Transmission"
Aysha D. Bey, Univ. of Alabama–Birmingham

Session 154: Burn after Reading: Miniature Manifestos for a Post/medieval Studies (A Roundtable)
Sponsor: postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studiesOrganizer: Eileen A. Joy, Southern Illinois Univ.–Edwardsville
Presider: Valerie Vogrin, Southern Illinois Univ.–Edwardsville
"Intentionally Good, Really Bad"
Heather Bamford, Texas State Univ.–San Marcos

"Kill the Shakespeareans"
Will Stockton, Clemson Univ.

"Waging Guerrilla Warfare against the Nineteenth Century"
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ.

"Net Worth"
Bettina Bildhauer, Univ. of St Andrews

"The Gothic Fly"
Shayne Aaron Legassie, Univ. of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

"This Is Your Brain on Medieval Studies"
Joshua R. Eyler, George Mason Univ.

"The Material Collective"
Asa Simon Mittman, California State Univ.–Chico; Nancy Thompson, St. Olaf College 
"Blast This: Manifestos, Credos, and Statements of (Mis)belief"
Ruth Evans, St. Louis Univ.

"De catervis ceteris"
Chris Piuma, Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Toronto

"History and Commitment"
Guy Halsall, Univ. of York

"Burn(ed) before Writing"
David Hadbawnik, Univ. at Buffalo

"Second Program of the Ornamentalists"
Daniel C. Remein, New York Univ.

"Radical Ridicule"
Noah D. Guynn, Univ. of California–Davis

Session 503: Rethinking the Apocalypse: How the Middle Ages Approached the End of the World
Sponsor: Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Virginia Tech
Organizer: Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ.
Presider: Jace Stuckey, Louisiana Tech Univ.

"Apocalyptic Outsiders and Their Uses in the Early Medieval West"
James Palmer, Univ. of St. Andrews

"Living within Sacred History during the Eleventh Century"
Matthew Gabriele

"Joachim of Fiore and the Remembrance of Things Past"
Brett Whalen, Univ. of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

Session 539: Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture I
Sponsor: Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture
Organizer: Thomas N. Hall, Univ. of Notre Dame
Presider: Frederick M. Biggs, Univ. of Connecticut

"The Fifteen Signs before Judgment in Anglo-Saxon England: A Reassessment"
Brandon W. Hawk, Univ. of Connecticut

"The Vision of Constantine and a Patristic Model for the Fæle Fri›owebba in Cynewulf’s Elene"
Jill Fitzgerald, Univ. of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign

"The Apostolic Muse: Inspired Authorship from Arator to Cynewulf"
Shannon Godlove, Alfred Univ.

"Judgment Day II and the Poetics of Prayer"
Ben Weber, Cornell Univ.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

NeMLA and the Disciplinary Perspective

I just returned home from a weekend in Rochester for the Northeast Modern Language Association Convention, which was a great event. Here I'll just offer some reflections on the conference while it's all fresh in my mind.

Arriving in the later afternoon on Friday, I only attended panels on Saturday and Sunday morning: several paper panels yesterday, including one that I co-organized on "Continuities in English Literature between the Norman Conquest and Reformation," and one seminar session this morning.  Our panel was the only one dedicated to medieval English literature, and one of only a handful of sessions on medieval topics at all (a few others on Italian and French medieval literature, for example). While the lack of medieval topics (and, generally, topics relevant to my own work--very little on literature and religion) disappoints me, I do understand the size and breadth of scholarship for NeMLA makes any specific area a small subject in the large scheme. That said, I was very happy with the turnout of audience for the panel, the papers were great, and questions and conversation afterward were productive and fun.

Also despite the desire for more medieval topics, the lack necessitated that I use my conference time seeking out other potentially interesting or helpful panels. So I attended one panel on graduate student work and departmental life; another on fairy tales in film adaptations; and, finally, a seminar-style session on the undead in popular culture. [As an aside, I must say that I really like the seminar style session, in which 5-6 essays were pre-circulated to participants (though I was not among them), and presenters gave 5-10-minute snapshots of their arguments, with much of the time left for discussion--all an interesting alternative to standard 3-4-paper panels.] It was nice to see how even fields far out from my own have ways of intersecting with my own work. For example, attending the panel on the undead led to thinking about the boom in zombie narratives over the last few decades and reimaginings of "apocalyptic" and "post-apocalyptic" narratives, and a fruitful conversation with friends about apocalyptic literature and thought in the long history of Western society.

What all of this reminds me--and I'm grateful for this reminder--is the much wider academic community to which I belong and with which I should be in dialogue. The ICMS at Kalamazoo every year also reminds me of the huge field in which I work, but a conference like NeMLA does an even better job of revising my perspective. I work not only in Old English studies; nor only in medieval studies; nor only in English literature/language--I work in the broader field of cultural analysis, stretching across centuries, geographies, languages, disciplines, and boundaries. It is good to keep this in mind, and it was good to see this in action.