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2010 Congress: A Call for Participants
Siena, July 15th-19th, 2010
The Seventeenth Biennial Congress of the New Chaucer Society will take place in Siena, Italy in 2010.
NCS members who wish to give papers or participate in panels at the Congress should send a one-paragraph abstract to the organizer(s), to arrive before July 15, 2009, preferably at the email addresses given below in the session description. Please indicate any specific audio-visual needs. Session organizers will select papers and panels soon afterwards, in consultation with the Program Chairs. The Program Committee will form additional sessions as interests arise. Names of Congress participants will be announced in an upcoming Chaucer Newsletter. Members may apply to participate in more than one session, but they may finally take part in only one.
The program committee is composed of Thomas Hahn (Chair), Marion Turner, David Wallace, Jessica Brantley, Orietta Da Rold, and Stefania D'Agata D'Ottavi (Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee) with Richard Firth Green (NCS President) and David Lawton (NCS Executive Director) ex officio.
In keeping with the suggestions made at the 2003 Glasgow Congress, there is no single theme for the Congress. The overall structure reflects areas of inquiry that emerged from members’ initial proposals for sessions. Sessions will consequently follow several threads: Chaucerian Temporalities; Medievalisms; Found in Translation: Italy and England in the Age of Chaucer; Transnationalism; Insular Multilingualisms; Political Languages; Visual Cultures; Religious Practice, Institutions, and Theology: Chaucerian Contexts; Bodies; Animal Discourses; Philosophy and Science; and Manuscripts and Printed Books. In addition, there will be a number of non-aligned panels and sessions, and several plenary sessions.
Paper sessions will comprise three or four fifteen-minute papers. At least one paper will be given by a graduate student or research student. Panel sessions will comprise seven or eight five-minute presentations. For both paper and panel sessions, organizers will enforce time limits to allow for discussion.
The NCS Constitution requires that Congress participants (except for invited speakers from other fields) be members with their dues paid. We encourage you to share information about the Congress with other interested people who may not be NCS members at present – graduate students, new colleagues, and others working outside the field who may find sessions related to their specialisms. (Graduate students and research students may join NCS at a reduced membership rate.) Finally, a tight limit has been set on prior invitations to participate in any session. The overwhelming majority of participants in the Congress will be those who respond to this call.
For a text file of the following 2010 New Chaucer Society Call for Participants,
Please note that sessions are numbered consecutively in this listing and designated either papers or panel. A one-paragraph abstract should be sent in to the organizer(s), to arrive before July 15, 2009. Please indicate any specific audio-visual needs.
General organizer: Jennifer Summit (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Literary history has recently become less a complement than a challenge to traditional historical and historicist narratives of the past. As Wai Chee Dimock observes, “The now experienced by any reader is idiosyncratic, unlike anyone else’s. It has its particular radii, particular genealogies and coevals. . . .It is not synchronized with the numerical now on any standard calendar.” This thread re-examines Chaucer’s literary histories: his production in and of literary tradition, his generation of revisionary chronologies, and his mediation of past and present. In so doing, it invites new frameworks for understanding Chaucerian temporality, beyond the grand récits of received literary history and periodization.
SESSION 1 (PAPERS): CHAUCER AND THE TRADITIONS OF MEDIEVAL AUTHORSHIP
Session organizer: Robert R. Edwards (email@example.com)
This paper session will explore recent thinking about forms of authorship in the medieval and early modern periods and appraise its usefulness for understanding Chaucer’s authorship. Such thinking recognizes that authorship is directed toward claiming a position within tradition and that the frequent inaugurating gesture is a revisionary poetics. Further, it examines the cultural and political implications of entering tradition. What, after all, is at stake when a writer claims authorship, even if under the cover of being a compiler or “maker”? How does authorship make itself intelligible through material production, transmission, and reception? Multiple traditions that bear on Chaucer’s poetry include courtly, classical, continental-vernacular, historiographical, religious, and didactic models; yet such traditions structure and constrain as well as activate the invention of poetic selfhood.
SESSION 2 (PANEL): REVISIONARY CHRONOLOGIES AND THE CHAUCER CANON
Session organizer: Kathryn Lynch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This panel session will re-examine widely accepted Chaucerian chronologies that both enable and limit interpretation. We will take up a range of questions – specific not only to the dating of poems and events in Chaucer’s life, but also to larger historical, historiographical, theoretical, and textual problems raised by the enterprise of establishing provenance generally. How, for example, do our own changing historical or institutional settings shape our understanding of medieval periodicity and influence our sense of the form and significance of a medieval author’s career? How do those issues structure our ordering of Chaucer's chronology, canon, and biography (e.g., the division of his career into French, Italian, and English periods)? What are the sources of that standard chronology and/or canon, how have they evolved over time, and how do recent discoveries challenge them? Also welcome are explorations of the connection between Chaucer chronologies and those constructed for other medieval and early modern writers (e.g., Gower or Shakespeare).
SESSION 3 (PAPERS): TOUCHING THE PAST
Session organizer: Jeffrey J. Cohen (email@example.com)
This session will examine what has been called "the affective turn" in medieval studies as way of moving the field past historicist readings of medieval materials. The challenge posed by Carolyn Dinshaw's Getting Medieval is still being felt in productive, new encounters with the bodies and pleasures of the past. Some recent scholarship has been especially provocative in experimentation with new critical modes that stage an encounter between past and present through affect and the haptic, an elaborated version of what Dinshaw once called the vibration. Other scholars have been arguing that we are in a "posthistoricist" period of medieval studies. "Touching the Past" is dedicated to exploring complicated temporalities in which past does not lead linearily to present, but where past and present promiscuously intertwine.
General organizers: Carolyn Dinshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Bruce Holsinger (email@example.com)
The sessions and panels in this thread will address the modes and varieties of medievalism and neomedievalism in the medieval and post-medieval worlds. How do the idioms of medievalism participate in the ongoing production of the Middle Ages and of the present? Why are some cultures, eras, and writers more interested in the Middle Ages than others? In what historical and political circumstances do we witness a proliferation of medievalisms, and with what consequences? How have non-Western cultures appropriated models of medievalism derived from Western schemes of periodization, and how have they resisted such schemes? Does Chaucer give rise to particular habits of medievalizing thought? We include a session on Chaucer’s own medievalism -- the periodization habits in Chaucer’s own writing -- inviting comparison between medieval and post-medieval medievalisms. Finally, if all of medieval studies, from textual editing to literary theorizing, is, or is also, a form of medievalism, what are the implications for taking this identification seriously, and how might it inform our work as medievalists? Conversely, is there still reason to claim a disinterested historical scholarship in Chaucer studies that resists the lure of medievalism studies?
SESSION 4 (PAPERS): CHAUCER AND ADAPTATION
Session organizer: Dana Symons (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scholars’ increased interest in studying the translation, popularization, and adaptation of Chaucer’s works has parallels in Chaucer’s growing visibility in popular culture in the last ten years, from the 1998 animated Canterbury Tales television series and the 2003 BBC adaptations of six tales to the appearance of Geoffrey Chaucer as a character in the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale. Chaucer’s works, particularly The Canterbury Tales, have undergone myriad other adaptations, including fifteenth-century additions, John Dryden’s “translations” and other often bowdlerized eighteenth-century modernizations, and Pasolini’s twentieth-century X-rated movie version, to name but a few. Linda Hutcheon’s book A Theory of Adaptation (2006) shows that current interest in adaptation goes beyond medieval studies and suggests that our preoccupations with Chaucer as both adapter and adapted author might benefit from recent theoretical work in media and cultural studies. Instead of dismissing adaptations as derivative or inadequate, Hutcheon argues for their importance as works in their own right and for the centrality of adaptation to storytelling. Although Chaucer habitually transformed older stories to create his own meaning and raise questions about textual authority, his influence as an icon of high culture has meant that adaptations of his works have in their turn suffered under the critical eye. What might we learn from taking such adaptations seriously, as Hutcheon suggests, even when they seem to violate our expectations as readers of Chaucer’s “originals”?
SESSION 5 (PAPERS): “WHILOM”: MEDIEVAL MEDIEVALISMS
Session organizer: Bruce Holsinger (email@example.com)
We often tend to impute to later eras the periodizing habits of mind that defined the Middle Ages as benighted, fantastical, or what have you. Yet the medieval world possessed its own modes of periodization, many of them heavily ideological in their invention and effects. This session will take up this subject by examining Chaucer’s periodizing habits in relation to his culture’s understanding of historical temporality and period formation. How do Chaucer’s constructions of various pasts (classical, Celtic, Norman) help shape his project as a writer? How might we compare Chaucerian periodization to other models of temporality in his sources, in the writings of his contemporaries, and in the modern world?
SESSION 6 (PANEL): ROUNDTABLE ON MODERN CHAUCER, MEDIEVALISMS, AND MULTI-MEDIAS
Session organizers: Kevin J. Harty (firstname.lastname@example.org ) and Laurie Finke (email@example.com)
If the Chaucerian text has changed little since the Middle Ages, the technologies that have reproduced it during the twentieth-century – in theatres, at home on DVD, or online at a computer – have fundamentally altered our relationship with it. We would like to propose a panel that explores modern Chaucer adaptations across a variety of contemporary media. While we might be tempted to think of media simply as the material or technological apparatuses – film, television, radio, computer games, or the internet – through which we view our world, media are not simply neutral carriers of content, but complex hybrid networks of material, technological, social, political, cultural, economic, and signifying practices. Recent work in media studies calls attention to the formal logic by which new media refashion prior media and their contents, as well as the ways in which that refashioning causes us to revisit older media, asking of them new kinds of questions. Panelists should examine the mechanisms through which new forms of media—film, television, radio, computer games, the internet--complicate our experience of medievalism, the Chaucerian text, and/ or its intermedial intertexts.
SESSION 7 (PANEL): ROUNDTABLE BLOGGING, COMMUNITIES, AND MEDIEVAL STUDIES
Session organizer: Stephanie Trigg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For those scholars who are aware of them, the professional landscape of medieval studies has been changed, in recent years, through the advent of blogs and other online fora for the exchange of ideas. From the wildly engaging Chaucer blog to the collaborative scholarship of In the Middle, and a range of more or less anonymous blogs from individual medievalists, it seems that certain medievalists love to blog. But why? To what extent has blogging changed the way medievalists communicate with each other? In the idealised answer to this question, blogging makes it possible for isolated scholars, junior scholars, graduate scholars, disabled scholars and others to take part in a more democratic, more easily accessible exchange of ideas. But blogging can’t escape hierarchies or intellectual imprecision altogether, while the ease of anonymous or pseudonymous publication potentially threatens the accountability of more formal and more highly regulated mode of publication and intellectual engagement. Other questions arise, too. What are the copyright implications of sharing drafts or published material on blogs? How has blogging changed our understanding of medieval studies and its communities? Is there anything distinctive about medieval blogs? What is the future of medieval blogging? Papers are invited from bloggers, lurkers on blogs, and non-bloggers.
SESSION 8 (PAPERS): DEFINING THE ‘MEDIEVAL’ IN FILMS OF THE MIDDLE AGES
Session organizer: Arthur Lindley (email@example.com)
Not surprisingly, many films of the Middle Ages define their protagonists as tolerant, rational agents of proto-modernity at odds with the dark and violent time in which they find themselves: Connecticut Yankees in savage courts. On the other hand, a film must to one degree or another familiarize the period in order to make it comprehensible to a contemporary audience. This panel will consider the different ways in which film and television have responded to the prevalent Othering of the Middle Ages. In addition to papers on particular films, topics might include:
• Differences between art house and commercial, independent and Hollywood films
• between English-lkanguage films and those in Italian, French, German, etc.
• between recent and earlier versions of the medieval;
• between films claiming historicity and those based on folk tales or fantasy;
• between a film text and its medieval sources and analogues;
• or between films set in this period and those set in other periods, such as the Renaissance or the Victorian.
Given the remit of the conference, some preference will be given to papers with a direct relation to the Ricardian period and its literature.
SESSION 9 (PAPERS): UMBERTO ECO AND NEOMEDIEVALISM
Session organizer: Theresa Coletti (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since their publication in the 1970s, Umberto Eco’s several writings on medievalism and neomedievalism have formed an important point of departure for subsequent work in this interdisciplinary field. How have Eco’s original questions and provocations been answered, and to what extent have they informed subsequent scholarship? What did Eco overlook in his writing on medievalism, and with what consequences for the study of medievalism?
SESSION 10 (PANEL): ROUNDTABLE ON THE PLACE OF MEDIEVALISM
Session organizer: Carolyn Dinshaw (email@example.com)
Medievalisms are explicitly concerned with periodization – temporal displacements and longings – but they are also crucially dependent on and engaged with issues of space, place, and locale. This may be most evident in heritage cultures that have grown around particular sites (e.g., Canterbury), but, as recent scholarship has suggested, is certainly operant in far-flung colonial endeavors (e.g., British India) as well. Where, and under what conditions, do medievalisms arise? From personal and private dreams to national fantasies, this session will be concerned to discuss the importance of material sites to medievalisms.
FOUND IN TRANSLATION: ITALY AND ENGLAND IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER
General organizer: Warren Ginsberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th c., Italy and England were different places with similar concerns. This thread will examine this proposition; by its conclusion, participants will, we hope, be able to discuss what the differences tell us about the similarities, what the similarities tell us about the differences. Issues that sessions might address include: Latin and vernacular, authorship and authority, rhetoric, politics, the law, medicine, in Italy and England, diplomats and diplomacy, borders and centers, city and village. We will schedule a final open session, at which all who have followed the thread will have a chance to discuss what we have found in the differences and similarities that made Italy and England translatable in the later Middle Ages.
SESSION 11 (PAPERS): ITALIAN MATTERS: RHETORIC, CIVIC CULTURE, AND LITERARY WRITING
Session organizers: Rebecca S. Beal (email@example.com) and Michaela Paasche Grudin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Giovanni Villani calls Brunetto Latini (c. 1220-94) "the first master in refining the Florentines, and in teaching them how to speak correctly, and how to guide and govern our Republic on political principles." Whether or not he was “the first,” he was, as Virginia Cox points out, a pivotal figure in a thirteenth- and fourteenth-century revival of Ciceronian rhetoric in new vernacular contexts. This session aims to explore rhetoric as an “Italian matter” with European resonances; we welcome proposals for papers examining ways in which later medieval writers, whether Italian (for instance, Cavalcanti, Salutati, Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio), or English (for instance, Chaucer, his contemporaries) exploited the classic rhetorical legacy they received from masters such as Brunetto. This session is also a part of the Political Languages thread.
SESSION 12 (PAPERS): BORDERS AND CENTERS
Session organizer: Lenny Koff (email@example.com)
This session seeks papers about the similar and dissimilar ways late medieval / early humanist English and Italians conceive of a European world that includes or excludes them, as well as those whose origins are elsewhere — Jews, Muslims — but who live within Europe or constitute its outlines even from within, or those whose origins are “before” — pre-Christians — but whose theological distance informs the idea of a European present. Petrarch’s “Ascent of Mount Ventoux” may serve as a paradigm for welcoming and fearing such a Europe, where borders recognized or refused help define a center.
SESSION 13 (PAPERS): ITALIAN ENCOUNTERS: FORMS AND VENUES OF LITERARY AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE 1350-1430
Session organizer: Carolyn Collette (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Multiple exchanges and inter-actions between English and Italian writers, scholars, and clergy like Richard de Bury, Osbern Bokenham, and Poggio Bracciolini occurred during this period of early humanism. Chaucer’s career falls near the mid point of this time frame which is designed to place him within a context of literary encounter and cultural exchange that shows his so-called “Italian period” to have been part of a broad cultural phenomenon. This panel invites scholars to share research and ideas about the nature of transnational culture during the period and the vectors—personal, institutional, accidental-- that facilitated English-Italian literary exchanges and encounters, particularly in regard to the papal court at Avignon, a cross road of international culture. Evidence as well as informed speculation are both welcome.
SESSION 14 (PAPERS AND E-SESSION): DIPLOMACY AND DIPLOMATS
Session organizer: Candace Barrington (email@example.com)
Keeping in mind that Siena is appropriate for Chaucerians because of Chaucer’s diplomatic journeys to Italy in 1373 and 1378, this session addresses uses of diplomats and diplomacy in Chaucer’s (and perhaps his contemporaries’) work. Diplomacy clearly connects with an idea Chaucer inherited from Italy: the vernacular poet who conveys messages from distant lands and the past to the native commonweal. Moreover, if we think about diplomacy as the work of a go-between speaking for another unable to speak because of barriers erected by distance, language, skills, status, or realms of existence, then we can see the ways diplomatic work permeates Chaucer’s texts. Of course, Pandarus comes immediately to mind, but there are also the emissaries from other realms (for example, the devil’s yeoman in The Friar’s Tale and the emissary to Cambyuskan’s court in The Squire’s Tale), the dreams bringing messages from the spiritual world (in, for example, Book of the Duchess and House of Fame), the transmission of letters (in, for example, Troilus & Criseyde and The Merchant’s Tale), agents sent in the stead of another (for example, John and Alain in The Reeve’s Tale), as well as the false mediator (for example, Nicholas in The Miller’s Tale). Moreover, Chaucer himself is often the diplomatic figure, recounting the tales of the Canterbury pilgrims, plus translating and presenting foreign texts—both familiar ones and those otherwise unknown to his English audience. In these and many other cases, we see Chaucer presenting the tensions inherent in the diplomat’s role. While the diplomat is authorized to speak for the powerful, he must often remain silent about his mission. Though he is able to negotiate, he must remain within imposed limits. Sent to further communication, the diplomat may instead obfuscate. Or, the diplomat may substitute his own desires for those he represents. This session is also listed in the Political Languages thread.
SESSION 15 (PANEL): AUTHORSHIP AND AUTHORITY: ENGLAND / ITALY
Session organizer: Warren Ginsberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the fourth book of Convivio (6.5-6), Dante says that authority (autoritade) is nothing more than the pronouncement (atto) of an “author” (autore). “When spelled this way, without a c,” Dante continues, “the word has two possible sources.” One is the verb auieo, which signifies ‘to tie words together.’ This sense is reserved for the work of poets. The second source of authority comes from the Greek autentin which means ‘worthy of faith and obedience.’ An ‘author,’ in this derivation, is used for any person who deserves to be believed and obeyed; ‘authority’ means a “pronouncement worthy of faith and obedience.” Dante applies it to philosophers. There is a third derivation, which Dante knew but does not note in the Convivio: auctor, with a c, from augeo, (I) increase. This meaning is political; it applies to emperors like Augustus, whose name comes from the verb, who are “augmentors” of the imperium. This session will investigate authorship and authority, in its intersecting literary, social, intellectual, ethical, religious, and political senses, in late medieval England generally, and Chaucer in particular, in comparison with / or in the face of its Italian forms and expressions.
SESSION 16 (PANEL): FOUND IN TRANSLATION: AN OPEN ROUNDTABLE
Session Organizer: Warren Ginsberg (email@example.com)
A gathering devoted to the idea of the thread, at which any and all who have followed its sessions will have a chance to discuss the differences and similarities that made Italy and England translatable in the later Middle Ages.
General organizer: Suzanne Conklin Akbari (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It is paradoxical that Chaucer is seen as both the most English of writers, a foundational figure in the canon of English literature – and the most Continental of medieval writers, his poetry intricately bound up with the work of Dante, Boccaccio, Jean de Meun, Machaut, and many others. This paradox has been viewed through a number of critical lenses, including Comparative Literature, Globalism, and World Literature; this series of sessions uses Transnationalism as its focus, exploring the role of language and geography in mediating between national and regional identities.
SESSION 17 (PAPERS): CHAUCER’S WORLD AND THE GLOBAL MIDDLE AGES
Session Organizer: Geraldine Heng (email@example.com)
Papers on literature and culture intersecting with Chaucer’s texts or Chaucerian England.
SESSION 18 (PANEL): TRANSNATIONAL FRENCH
Session Organizer: Suzanne Conklin Akbari (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, medieval French was a transnational language spoken by poets, merchants, and sailors. This session invites papers on the many varieties of French and their cultural and economic roles in Chaucer’s world: Anglo-Norman, French spoken in the Flemish regions, French of the île-de-France, and Mediterranean French (including its relationship to Occitan and the emergent lingua franca).
SESSION 19 (PAPERS): DISPLACING CHAUCER
Session Organizer: David Matthews (David.Matthews@manchester.ac.uk) and Alfred Hiatt (A.Hiatt@leeds.ac.uk)
How is Chaucer read today outside the Anglophone nations? Papers might focus on the role of Chaucer as a canonical figure in cultures where English is the transnational language of economic and technological exchange; Chaucer as the entry point for discussions of English in the world frame and comparisons with other transnational languages (Chinese, Arabic, etc.); recent developments in the study of Chaucer outside the UK, North America, and Australasia.
SESSION 20 (PAPERS): MARE NOSTRUM AND THE ARCHIPELAGO
Session Organizers: Chris Chism (email@example.com)
Recent work on the literature of the British isles has sought to conceive of English literature in postcolonial terms, as emerging from the geography of the archipelago; at the same time, the emergent field of medieval Mediterranean Studies has explored the role of waterways as both dividing lines and routes of connection between cultures. Papers are sought that draw upon conceptions of space, medieval to postmodern, in order to situate late medieval English literature in its geographical and cartographic matrices.
SESSION 21 (PAPERS): BORDER PATROL
Session Organizer: Sylvia Tomasch (Sylvia.Tomasch@mhc.cuny.edu)
The transnational capacities of language and literature are consistently challenged by borders, whether physical, political, bureaucratic, or cultural. This session invites papers that take account of the crossing of boundaries and the policing of borders, thresholds and margins, in Chaucer’s works or in the world Chaucer inhabited.
General organizer: Thomas Hahn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In making “the rise of English” a teleological and triumphalist linguistic re-Conquest, conventional histories of the language have enshrined an insularity that even recent reassessments of vernacular culture perpetuate to some degree. Chaucer’s attentiveness to history, variation, change, competition, code-switching within English registers and dialects, or his contrast of English with the French of Paris and that of the London suburbs, has given this mother tongue a historiographical privilege that it may not have enjoyed among his contemporaries. Chaucer’s worries that the rapid, observable change “in forme of speche” might render literary registers archaic or obsolete, or that English might not be “suffisaunt” in its expressive and staying powers, compared to Latin, French, or Italian, have paradoxically been taken to certify its emergent capacities. This thread aims for a fuller understanding of how English interacts with and jostles against its rivals among monolingual, polyglot, and diglossic speakers, writers, and readers on the ground in late medieval Britain, and among speech communities across the Channel and across the Irish Sea.
SESSION 22 (PAPERS): COMMON LANGUAGES: THE CLAIMS OF THE VERNACULAR
Session Organizer: Ardis Butterfield (email@example.com)
Within and outside England, the French of Paris enjoyed the status of a European and Mediterranean lingua franca, a world language rather than a territorially-based mother tongue. In contrast, English was just one -- and a belated example at that -- of an array of vernaculars striving for authority in different cultural registers in late medieval Europe. This panel looks to examine some of the implications of the shifting grounds of linguistic hierarchy for our understanding of the status of English in the later medieval period. One approach is to develop questions about the discourse of the mother tongue, and how different writers appropriated it for different vernaculars, even assigning that description to Latin as well. How, then, were these seemingly disparate notions of a common language negotiated: for English as a mother tongue, French as a European vernacular lingua franca and Latin as the principal medium for intellectual, bureaucratic and ecclesiastical communication? How did such notions of commonality co-operate or collide in the period? How useful is the modern discourse of postcolonial theory to this complex re-positioning of cultural power? Specific topics that might address these issues include bilingualism in translation practices; the status of French in 14thc England; post-postcolonial theory; theories of the mother tongue; vernacular theology and Bible translation; languages of dissent; languages and literatures in London; intersections between learned and popular; metropolitan and regional cultures.
SESSION 23 (PAPERS): TRANSLATION, TRANSPARENCY, TRANSGRESSION: THEORY AND PRACTICE
Session Organizer: Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In invoking Chaucer as grant translateur, does Deschamps mark translation as normative, transparent, or transgressive? When Chaucer himself characterizes his oeuvre as no more than a series of “translacions and enditynges,” or his writings as a form of “channeling” (“He may translate a thyng... And taketh non hed of what matere he take”) how are we to understand the relations of source and target languages, and their role in the production of written texts? This session seeks to explore the practices and theories that govern and emerge from the interplay of languages in late medieval England, above all French and English, but also Latin, Italian, and other interlanguages. In what ways do languages limit or unfetter the potential meaning – linguistic, literary, pragmatic, religious, political, administrative, commercial – of texts, of the manuscripts that contain them, or of the communities of interpreters that receive them? What are the cultural venues and motives for multilingualism, and how does the “admission price” to the texts at hand differ for the overlapping or separate readerships that sponsor them? In what ways does consciousness of multilingualism reshape our readings and conceptualization of language and writing in the age of Chaucer?
SESSION 24 (PAPERS): LATIN AND ITS RIVALS
Session Organizer: Thomas Hahn (email@example.com)
As the most durable and practicable of available book languages, Latin seems less volatile than the other languages of England. Moreover, as a restricted code linked to specialized discourses (legal, mercantile, theological, bureaucratic, diplomatic, and so on), it maintained conventions that were deliberately unresponsive to everyday linguistic pressures. Yet Latin maintained flexibility as medium of personal expression and literary experimentation, of intimacy, intrigue, and secret communications, or of public poetry like Richard Maidstone’s. In sustaining its vitality outside professional / occupational coteries, and in competing with burgeoning vernaculars and interlanguages, Latin also generated hostility among those who felt or resented its influence, for example the insurgents in 1381 or the Lollards. This session seeks papers that explore the varieties of English Latinity – its uses, genres, sponsors, readerships, its “standard” status – as an alternative language in practice and as a challenge to the histioriography of the ascendancy of the vernacular(s).
SESSION 25 (PRECIRCULATED PAPERS): NETWORKS, MEDIA, AND LANGUAGE OPTIONS
Session Organizer: Thomas Hahn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This session seeks a richer understanding of the make-up and the interactions, internal and external, among the multitude of speech communities that populated late medieval Britain. How far would Chaucer and his contemporaries have known of non-standard forms – “a maner Latyn corrupt,” the “firste Briton tonge” – from books or speakers? How permeable or permanent were language communities – French, Anglo-Norman, Franco-Italian, Lumbarde, Flemyng, Bohemian, Spanish, Welsh, Scots, Irish – and what was the nature and extent of their exchange with English speakers from different regions, registers, or occupations? To what degree were such communities made up of permanent residents or transient foreigners, and how did this affect the practice of English? In what ways was such contact a force for or against standardization? What evidence do manuscripts offer of the influence of spoken dialects on writing, of “unrelated” languages on one another, or of the cross-over of boundaries and deviation from “standards” according to local needs or audience expectations? The session aims to address the variety of languages actually in use in medieval Britain, and the practice of language communities on the ground, as these were shaped by material constraints and opportunities.
SESSION 26 (PANEL): ROUNDTABLE ON INSULAR MULTILINGUALISMS
Session Organizer: Thomas Hahn (email@example.com)
A gathering devoted to the idea of the thread, at which any and all who have followed its sessions will have a chance to discuss the interplay of spoken and written languages within and beyond Britain in the later Middle Ages.
General organizer: Marion Turner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This thread is concerned with the interplay between diverse discourses and kinds of text in late-medieval Europe and especially in England. The sessions and panels all engage with ways in which political discourses inform, underpin, and relate to literary texts. Some papers and sessions engage with connections between documents not usually defined as literary and texts by Chaucer and other poets; others focus on ways that authors such as Chaucer deploy political discourses within 'literary' texts. Historicism, manuscript work, and comparative approaches are all key methodologies here.
SESSION 27 (PANEL): DIPLOMATICS AND POETICS
Session Organizers: Matthew Giancarlo (email@example.com ) and Wendy Scase (W.L.Scase@bham.ac.uk)
The relevance of late medieval documents to Chaucer and other poets of the period has attracted considerable recent critical attention. At the same time there are major projects underway on the primary sources from medieval England (e.g. on Chancery Petitions, Ancient Petitions, and the Rolls of Parliament) and from the continent (e.g. on notarial culture in medieval Italy). This panel will investigate where we might go next in this field and whether the research agendas of these projects could converge productively. How might Chaucerians use the vast unpublished archives from the period as a resource? What kinds of edition, database, calendar, guide etc. do Chaucerians need? Can the methodologies of diplomatics usefully inform literary work? Panellists will briefly address these questions each using as illustration a short documentary text of their choice, e.g. a letter, a petition, a charter, a will, a trial record, before the discussion is opened up to all participants (texts will be made available to delegates in advance). We welcome proposals (please specify your suggested text and briefly outline how you will present it) from across the full range of relevant disciplines – including from palaeographers, lexicographers, historical linguists, cultural historians, legal historians, and literary critics.
SESSION 28 (PANEL): GUILD CULTURES
Session Organizer: Jonathan Hsy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This panel seeks presentations that explore guild cultures – however defined – in “the age of Chaucer” and beyond. Topics may include scribes, manuscripts, and miscellanies; associational forms and urban conflict; pageantry, performance, and material culture; artisanal craft and aesthetics; charity, piety, and mercantile identity. This session invites new perspectives on any aspect of guild cultures, including non-Chaucerian authors or 15th century contexts (e.g., Caxton, Gower, Kempe, Langland, Lydgate, Malory, or medieval drama); particularly welcome are comparative approaches, especially work that extends beyond London or England.
SESSION 29 (PAPERS): PRINCEPLEASING
Session Organizer: Susanna Fein (email@example.com)
In honor of Richard Firth Green’s Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages, this session invites explorations of the subject of patronage as a motivator for medieval artists, especially in the making of literary art, such as lyrics, tales, hagiographies, treatises, manuals, anthologies, and manuscripts designed for presentation. It invites analyses of political discourses embedded in specific texts, representational programs, or aesthetic fashions, viewed beside theoretical considerations of art in negotiation with capital, or beside reconstructed social networks that brought artists like Chaucer into orbits of power. The session welcomes reflections on how patronage studies has changed since Green’s book, how it matters for our understanding of medieval literature, and how it challenges us to think about the ways poets speak or bow to power, address or occlude issues of disempowerment, and offer assessments of themselves.
SESSION 30 (PAPERS): CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN THE CANTERBURY TALES
Session organizer: Jerome Mandel (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com)
All of Chaucer’s tales involve conflicts or tensions between individuals or between individuals and institutions that tend to be resolved by tale’s end. Conflict in these tales can occur at international, national, regional, local, domestic and personal levels, sometimes all in one tale. They can involve cultural, political, religious, social, personal, narrative or meta-narrative solutions. Medieval theories of conflict resolution based upon current ideas of sovereignty, authority, culturally sanctioned violence, “courtly love,” Christian or ecclesiastical theory and so on as well as modern theories of conflict resolution are equally instructive in revealing Chaucer’s command of character, narrative design, and aesthetics. This session invites papers that address the various ways Chaucer (or another narrator or a character) addresses the resolution of conflict in one of the Canterbury Tales or that trace one particular method of conflict resolution through several of the tales or a particular genre.
SESSION 31 (PAPERS AND E-SESSION): DIPLOMACY AND DIPLOMATS
Session organizer: Candace Barrington (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Cross-listed with the Found in Translation thread, and described in full above).
SESSION 32 (PAPERS): ITALIAN MATTERS: RHETORIC, CIVIC CULTURE, AND LITERARY WRITING
Session organizers: Rebecca S. Beal (email@example.com) and Michaela Paasche Grudin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Cross-listed with the Found in Translation thread, and described in full above).
General organizer: Jessica Brantley (email@example.com)
Cultures of the image have been increasingly relevant to critical thinking about medieval literature. Central to explorations of text and image has been the recognition that the relations between them are hard to describe in general terms: images can both support and disturb textual meaning, and texts can rely on images as much as images on texts. This thread examines the complicated visual cultures that surround Chaucer’s poetry, as well as those contained within it. Papers are invited on the following topics: the sometimes contentious relation of text and image; the function of images in rhetorical discourse; the functions of image in both public liturgy and private meditation; iconoclasm; the role of images in secular traditions, both erotic and political; the construction of authorship through images; the role of images in both natural and unnatural spaces; and the ways in which traffic in images reveals traffic in ideas.
SESSION 33 (PAPERS): IMAGE TROUBLE, 1380-1538: THE SACRED IMAGE
Session Organizer: James Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lollard hostility to the image, and the first legislated iconoclasm in England (1538), are merely the most obvious symptoms of image-trouble in late medieval England. In less spectacular ways, the devotional image also manifests symptoms of ill-health: orthodox writers attack the image; or, even as they promote images and the imagination, orthodox writers turn images into text; or even as they rely on the image, orthodox writers succumb to a mise-en-abyme of the image, using images to authenticate images. The relation of image to text becomes uneasy; the image threatens to become an idol; the image displaces the Eucharist, or, what's more unsettling, the Eucharist is itself described as an idol. In short, everywhere one looks, one sees devotional images in different kinds of trouble before the iconoclast's hammer falls in 1538. This panel will explore topics related to all aspects of image-trouble in the sacred sphere, including iconoclasm and responses to it, and the function of images in both liturgy and meditation.
SESSION 34 (PAPERS): IMAGE TROUBLE, 1380-1538: THE SECULAR IMAGE
Session Organizer: Jessica Brantley (email@example.com)
Much has been said and written lately about the changing culture of devotional images in the late Middle Ages. The theological questions raised by iconoclasts about the relation of image to word, and of image to reality, have their counterparts in secular contexts, however. This panel seeks to explore the cultures of the late-medieval secular image, asking whether the debates about devotional imagery have an impact on other realms of visual experience. Perhaps, alternatively, those realms of secular vision bring their own kinds of image-theory to bear on questions of representation. Papers on the role of the image in erotic, political, and rhetorical discourses will be welcomed.
SESSION 35 (PAPERS): ILLUMINATING AUTHORS
Session Organizer: Joyce Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Late medieval manuscript illuminations encoded cultural meanings at every level, communicating about the status of the particular manuscript, the reception of the given author(s), the power and vulnerablity of text in the manuscript's period and of texts across periods. Yet it is only recently that literary scholars have begun to pay attention to the politics of such illuminations, after decades in which the images were usually evaluated (and mostly condemned) on traditional esthetic grounds. (Furnival, for example, dismissed the image of Chaucer in the opening W of Lansdowne 851's Canterbury Tales as "a stupid peasant thing.") Recent work has viewed these images through a historical and cultural lens, relating illumination to such issues as authorship, vernacularity, political propaganda, and religious repression. This session will explore manuscript images that comment on the cultural status of the book, and perhaps particularly on the politics of authorship.
SESSION 36 (PANEL): THE LITERARY, HORTICULTURAL, AND HISTORICAL GARDEN TRADITIONS BEHIND CHAUCER’S POETRY
Session organizers: Susan K. Hagen (email@example.com) and Teresa P. Reed firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reference to the Dictionary of the Middle Ages for information about medieval gardens finds a rather interesting combination of “first-hand” literary and horticultural citations, including (in chronological order), The Romance of the Rose (1225-30), Albertus Magnus’s De plantatione viridarium in De vegetilibus (c. 1260), Pietro de Crescenzi’s Ruralium commordorum, book 8 (1305), Boccaccio’s Decameron (1350), The Ménagier de Paris (1394), and Jon Gardener’s “The Feate of Gardeninge” (before 1450). This odd list of real and fictive gardens, of planters and poets, of plants and polemics suggests the reasonableness with which Chaucerians turn to The Romance of the Rose for understanding and visualization of Chaucer’s gardens, but it also suggests that there are other sources of agricultural and cultural import that should be more fully examined. This session will examine horticultural gardens of the period in order to broaden our perspectives on the special configurations of medieval gardens. Papers might investigate literary and exegetical sources or art historical evidence for period gardens—especially from the manuscripts of Crescenzi—Classical and Mid-Eastern influences on western gardens, and Italian gardens. The purpose of this session is to suggest a fuller cultural context and richer visual tradition for the gardens of Chaucer’s poetry (e.g., Knight’s Tale, Franklin’s Tale, Merchant’s Tale, and Troilus and Criseyde).
SESSION 37 (PAPERS): ITALIAN ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS AND INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE IN FOURTEENTH CENTURY EUROPE
Session organizer: Michael Hanly (email@example.com)
Trade flourished between Italy, France, and England in the later fourteenth century despite the obstacles of pestilence, papal schism, and the Hundred Years War. This session will focus on Italian illuminated books, and consider a broad variety of issues concerning the production and international dissemination of works and of iconographical themes in the age of Chaucer. Papers dealing with individual painters or scribes, with ateliers, and with international art dealers (e.g. the Rapondi brothers of Lucca, purveyors to the French royal dukes) will be welcome, as will considerations of the intersections between particular regional styles (Millard Meiss's work on Florentine and Sienese painting comes to mind), and of contacts between various national traditions, such as the Italian influences described in Michelle Brown's new facsimile of the Holkham Bible.
RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, INSTITUTIONS AND THEOLOGY: CHAUCERIAN CONTEXTS
General Organizer: Sarah Beckwith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Religion is not primarily a set of beliefs in a group of propositions. It is a set of practices, and it is best studied in attending to the ways in which, say, words about God, or about church are actually used. As sacrament, religion organizes major life passages such as birth, marriage and death, as well as social identities from layman to ordained priest licensed to confect the eucharist and to administrate the forgiveness of sin. It is vitally involved in the very concept of role and office and with notions of authority, authorship and mediation. In medieval culture religious practices were fundamentally organized around making present God, the saints and the word. We are, it seems, in a “religious turn” in the humanities and scholars of the Middle Ages are particularly well placed to address this turn.
The following sessions are intended to house a range of papers on religious practices, institutions and theology in Chaucer’s writing, reception, and in the society he inhabited. Papers explicitly treating Chaucer’s writings are welcome; so are papers engaging Chaucer in relation to other poets, genres and practices, eg, Langland, Gower, medieval drama, Hoccleve, Lydgate or other forms such as theater, ceremony or ritual practice. We invite papers addressing medieval theology, ecclesiology, exegesis, the sacraments, sin and the virtues, Wycliffism, the laity, institutions and questions of authority.
SESSION 38 (PAPERS): LITURGY, SACRAMENTS, ECCLESIOLOGY
Session organizer: Sarah Beckwith (email@example.com)
Studying Chaucer in the context of the Medieval Church is a large, wide-ranging interdisciplinary topic with obvious importance to both Chaucerian scholarship and the challenge of equipping our students with the means of achieving a well informed reading of his works. The pace of current research on the medieval church, particularly with regard to the life and dynamics of the local parish, means that it is very timely to reconsider and re-examine this topic. Indeed, 2010 will see the publication of a major new electronic resource on the Church in England which will incorporate much recent research and make it accessible to students. The organisers would welcome papers on both scholarly and pedagogical approaches to the subject. Topics could include: satire; time and the calendar; liturgy; personal devotion; the role of the saints; the cleric in life and literature; buildings and space; the visual experiences of medieval parishioners; the narrative role of the church; death and dying; Lollardy and other challenges to the church; preaching. (Session description written by Dee Dyas and Rosalind Field).
SESSION 39 (PANEL): THE FRIAR’S DISCOURSE: FRATERNALISM AND ANTI-FRATERNALISM
Session organizer: Sarah Beckwith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In reviewing the state of Chaucer studies in his closing remarks at the New Chaucer Society Congress in Glasgow in 2004, David Lawton included this brief observation: “Friars: still out; Lollards: still in.” Four years later, the point remains true, and is unlikely to change before the society meets again in 2010. No one would begrudge the scholars of Wycliffitism their astonishing success in recent years. But why have the Friars, their rivals on the other end of the ideological spectrum, about whom Chaucer has vastly more to say, become and remained so marginal to critical discourse? What may be most needed is a fresh historical and theoretical consideration, to revivify the subject and once again make it seem a vibrant part of the field of Chaucer studies. An ideal opportunity for a panel seeking such contributions would be the meeting in Siena (some 60 km from Assisi), birthplace of the Franciscan St. Bernardino and home to both the Basilica San Francesco and the great Dominican church with the relics of St. Catherine. To encourage the greatest possible experimentation and innovation, I think this panel would ideally be open to presentations on all topics related to fraternalism, including Franciscan literature as well as representations of friars by authors other than Chaucer. (Session description written by Robert Epstein).
SESSION 40 (PAPERS): DOXA AND ITS DISCONTENTS: ORTHODOXY, HETERODOXY AND HERESY
Session organizer: Sarah Beckwith (email@example.com)
New work on Wycliffism and on medieval English heresy (Cole, Somerset, Kirby-Fulton, Gillespie, Watson, Little, Aers) has challenged our sense of the binaries of orthodoxy and heresy in late medieval culture. On the one hand there is a much greater sense of the sheer capaciousness and internal contradiction of orthodoxy. On the other hand there is a much more nuanced sense of the participation of Wycliffites in liturgical and sacramental culture. Papers addressing all aspects of these relations welcomed, including those addressing pre and post fourteenth century religion and religiosity.
SESSION 41 (PANEL): RELIGION AND READING
Session Organizer: Sarah Beckwith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reader reception, exegesis, allegory, lectio divina: this session welcomes presentations focused on medieval practices of reading in relation to religion.
SESSION 42 (PAPERS): THEOLOGY: HOW TO TALK ABOUT GOD
Session organizer: Sarah Beckwith (email@example.com)
The discourse of religion, especially in so far as it models itself in social theory and the social sciences, tends to avoid talking about God. Yet theology supplied some of the central resources for this conversation. This session provides a home for papers addressing theological issues in the broadest sense.
General Organizer: Ruth Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Now that we have all had several decades to reflect on what used to be called “the new somatics” and on performative gender identities, this thread will take up the question of the specificity of medieval bodies and bodily practices. Addressing humoral theory, disability, Amazonianism, performative reading practices and hetero/sexuality, the thread will also test the critical adequacy of our theoretical categories for reading bodies in the Middle Ages.
SESSION 43 (PAPERS): TAKING THE TEMPERATURE OF THE MIDDLE AGES
Session organizer: Kathryn Lavezzo (Kathy-Lavezzo@uiowa.edu)
This session takes as its starting point the essential part that heat plays in medieval notions of the body and particularly gender formation. According to the well-known theory of humoral psychology explicated by Hippocrates and Galen, heat brings the developing body into (masculine) perfection, and fundamentally distinguishes male from female, so that the hottest woman is still colder than the coldest man. In addition to welcoming papers offering new work on humoral thinking, the session invites submissions promising to shed new light on literary engagements with the role temperature plays in other aspects of medieval culture, such as discipline (Hell), place and community (climatology and weather) and romantic love or fin’amor.
SESSION 44 (PAPERS): DISABILITY
Session organizer: Edward Wheatley (email@example.com)
I solicit papers on disabled bodies in Chaucer and in contemporary medieval texts, including sermons, hagiography, fabliau, and medical writing, and from a variety of theoretical perspectives, whether feminist theory, queer theory, or the work of Foucault. Disability theory itself suffers from a constricting “presentism” that medievalists can usefully challenge and modify. In doing so, we must also interrogate the critical categories that medievalists sometimes apply too quickly to disability in literature, particularly the Bakhtinian grotesque and the monstrous. And in recognition of the site of the 2010 conference, papers might examine the place of disabled people in the society of medieval and early modern Siena.
SESSION 45 (PAPERS): BODILY BOLDNESS IN WOMEN
Session organizer: Alcuin Blamires (A.Blamires@gold.ac.uk)
Boldness in women was a provocative but confused phenomenon in medieval writing. Often interpreted as a negative quality, especially in a young woman and most especially if expressed through the body, boldness might be associated with aggressive wifehood or with Amazonian exoticism, or could be alleged to be an archetypally threatening female potential. Yet the boldness which appears in women such as Custance and Cenobia is recognized as awe-inspiring. This paper session will address paradoxes of physical female boldness; it will discuss and attempt to define its complex gendering, assessing the conditions permitting women to display it, both in Chaucer and in other late medieval writings. Amazonian women, fabliau women, and some women in romance – especially those bent on attaining their own choice of partners – are likely to be candidates for attention. In sum, the session will test whether there was a sneaking admiration for physically bold women, manifested against the grain of formal guidance on female behavior.
SESSION 46 (PAPERS): CONDUCT LITERATURE AND PERFORMATIVE READING
Session organizers: Glenn Burger (GBurger@gc.cuny.edu) and Christine M. Rose (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In their introduction to Medieval Conduct, Robert Clark and Kathleen Ashley argue for thinking of conduct literature not just as courtesy books but more broadly as “written texts systematizing a society’s codes of behavior.” The proliferation of such books in the later Middle Ages, they note, is a pan-European phenomenon that allowed “literate readers to negotiate new sets of social possibilities” as “a combination of sociohistorical forces was changing religious practices, class structures, patterns of consumption, and political identities” (x). This session will explore the performative reading practices encouraged by conduct literature—literate practices by means of which readers enact and perform a sense of self and social identity—as well as the fluid textual culture that emerges because of conduct literature’s productive middle position between the didactic and the literary, the ideological and the social, the communal and the individual.
SESSION 47 (PANEL): CHAUCER’S HETERO/SEXUALITIES
Session organizer: Ruth Evans (email@example.com)
I solicit brief papers for a panel that examines the impact of recent work on hetero/sexuality (the slash is deliberate) on readings of Chaucer. I’m thinking most immediately of the critiques of heterosexuality as a category for reading medieval texts that have been proposed, variously, by Karma Lochrie (Heterosyncrasies, 200) and James Schultz (Courtly Love, the Love of Courtliness, and the History of Sexuality, 2006), but I am interested in any proposals, at the level of engagement with the theoretical issues or the production of new readings of Chaucer, that address such topics as: critiques of the notions of “compulsory heterosexuality” and “heteronormativity” – and even of “gender” – as organizing concepts for the exploration of sexuality in Chaucer’s texts; the contribution of the middle ages, and of Chaucer in particular, to a history of hetero/sexuality; “feminine perversion”; queer perspectives on heterosexuality that do not require it to function as queer’s binary; “critical heterosexual studies” (Kitzinger and Wilkinson 1993; Seidman 2002 and 2005; Jackson 1999 and 2006).
General Organizer: Susan Crane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How did the poetry, practices, and philosophy of Chaucer’s age understand the bodies, voices, behaviors, and merits of animals? Homo est animal, the scholastics say, even as they assert a dominant binary of reasoning human versus dumb beast. Against this scholastic clarity, further discourses on animality in treatises, fables, hagiography, and romances question and contradict one another. This thread emphasizes the variety in medieval perceptions of animals and the important place of animals in all medieval milieus.
SESSION 48 (PAPERS): ANIMAL INTERACTIONS
Session organizer: Sandy Feinstein (email@example.com)
This session concentrates on how variously Chaucer’s age conceived cross-species encounters. What kind of relationship has a knight to his horse, a huntsman to his hound, a Prioress to her small dogs, a Manciple to his crow? Are these relations intersubjective? Are they partnerships? Hierarchies? Where are they exemplary, where instrumental, where affective?
SESSION 49 (PAPERS): ANIMAL SPEECH
Session organizer: Carolynn Van Dyke (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is happening when animals speak in works such as Henryson’s Fables, Caxton’s Reynard the Fox, Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, and Gaston de Foix’s Livre de Chasse? What kinds of language, modes of imagination, and negotiations of difference allow for animal speech? Can we find clues to understanding why and how animals are “speaking” inscribed within the works that represent their speech?
SESSION 50 (PANEL): ANIMAL PHILOSOPHIES
Session organizer: Susan Crane (email@example.com)
How illuminating are philosophy and ethics for understanding medieval literatures? Panelists are invited to present paired readings such as Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy with the Manciple’s Tale on caged birds, Descartes’ Discourse on the Method with the Squire’s Tale on the animal-machine, Foucault’s Order of Things with the Bestiaries on classification, and Levinas’s “Name of a Dog” with Sir Tryamour’s greyhound on ethical relationships.
SESSION 51 (PAPERS): ANIMAL FIGURES
Session organizer: Sarah Stanbury (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Humans of necessity perceive other animals with mediating anthropomorphic eyes; sometimes mediated understanding is the goal of perception, rather than just its necessary limitation. This session invites discussion of animals used as signs, metaphors, and substitutions. The leopards of royal heraldry, the lion in Machaut’s Dit dou lyon, and the unicorn in the Cluny tapestries could be strong cases of figuration. Are the horses in the General Prologue and the puppy in the Book of the Duchess primarily figurative? How do such figures work?
SESSION 52 (PAPERS): ANIMALS AND THE HUMAN SOCIAL ORDER
Session organizer: Lisa Kiser (email@example.com)
How are animals deployed to explore aspects of human identity? How can animals serve as vehicles to enhance or undermine human genders, ethnicities, social stations, religious differences? How does such literary and cultural deployment affect the actual animals among whom medieval humans live? How does it affect the way medieval humans understand their own place in the natural world?
PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE
General Organizer: Michelle Karnes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In recent years, scholars have shown increased interest in Chaucer’s relationship to medieval philosophy and science, an interest revealed when, for instance, Chaucer describes the propagation of sound waves in the House of Fame with reference to the philosophical doctrine of multiplied species, or when he draws on contemporary debate about the properties of mirrors and optical distortion in the Squire’s Tale, naming several figures, including Witelo and Alhazen, who set that debate’s terms. This thread will consider the philosophical and scientific content of Chaucer’s writing as well as the relationship between Chaucer’s literature on the one hand and philosophy and science, medieval or modern, on the other.
SESSION 53 (PAPERS): SENSATION
Session organizer: Charles Archer (email@example.com)
This session will be devoted to the ways in which the senses are articulated in Chaucer's works. It seeks to investigate of all the senses in his oeuvre: smell as a marker of sanctity, for example (as in the Second Nun's Tale), sound as it participates in the ambiguity of gender (thinking of the song sung by the Summoner and Pardoner in the General Prologue, or the songs of Troilus and Criseyde) or in racial/religious distinctions (as in the Prioress's Tale), vision and optics as they inform dream visions and influence themes of vision impairment (as in the Merchant's Tale). Of particular interest, further, will be the place of multi-sensory experience in Chaucer's work in the context of the Augustinian tradition that uses the visual as metonymic for all the senses; or the ambiguities of sound as a medium for ethical decision making (as in the House of Fame).
SESSION 54 (PANEL): ETHICS
Session organizer: J. Allan Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This session invites speakers to reflect on ethical approaches to medieval literature. Ethics has long been integral to medieval literary studies, from the “ethical poetic” or “art and ethics” to growing fields such as green ethics, the ethics of psychoanalysis, Aristotelian ethics and metaethics, and feminist ethics. Is there anything unifying this range of approaches? What ethical demands does medieval literature make on its readers, medieval and modern? How do ethical approaches interact with recent turns to aesthetics or returns to form?
SESSION 55 (PAPERS): EXPERIENCE
Session organizer: Kellie Roberston (email@example.com)
The Wife of Bath's well-known juxtaposition of ‘experience’ and ‘auctoritee’ has given us critical poles that shape our understanding of the Canterbury Tales. And yet, as the historian of science Edward Grant reminds us, the scholastic adaptation of Aristotle involved the bringing together of everyday experience—a “more or less unguided observation”—with the precepts of past classical authorities. This session seeks papers that examine how ideas of experience in medieval natural philosophy may have influenced late medieval poetics. Possible topics might include animals, cosmology, alchemy, physics, and metaphysics.
MANUSCRIPTS AND PRINTED BOOKS
General Organizer: Orietta Da Rold (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Manuscripts and books tell stories: they talk about authors and readers, their experiences and cultural diversity. They also construct new narratives on personal relationships which define literary taste and how texts physically circulated. The sessions in this thread aim to explore and analyze the ‘sondry’ ways in which literature can be written, read and understood. They invite scholars to reflect on a variety of approaches to Manuscript Studies and the History of the Book, and to expand and interpret the evidence in many different directions. Send abstracts of 250 words to individual session organizers.
SESSION 56 (PANEL): WHAT IS THE PLACE OF THEORY IN MANUSCRIPT STUDIES?
Session organizers: Christina M. Fitzgerald (email@example.com) and Holly A. Crocker (Hcrocker@mailbox.sc.edu)
This panel asks what the theoretical turn of medieval studies in the last few decades has to offer the more technical field of manuscript studies. For example, how might theories of gender inform our study of readership, ownership and circulation of manuscripts? Can the collation of a manuscript, particularly in the miscellany or the anthology, codify a particular identity? What might theories of appropriation or bricolage offer the study of the miscellany? What might the “sociology of the text” have to say to the study of provenance and ownership? How do reception theories and reader response theories aid the study of manuscript culture in the Middle Ages? These are but a few of the questions that might be posed; we invite any papers investigating the application of cultural and literary theory to manuscript studies.
SESSION 57 (PAPERS): THE MATERIALS OF MANUSCRIPT PRODUCTION
Session organizer: Alexandra Gillespie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Materialism as a term and as a concept is always booby-trapped by its association with the Enlightenment and with nineteenth-century positivism. Whatever precautions are taken, it always fatally ends up projecting a determinism by matter.
Fredric Jameson, “Pleasure: A Political Issue” (1983)
This session will consider the materials of manuscript production – paper, parchment, and other writing surfaces; plummet, ink, and pigments; needles, thread; binding boards, cords, and covers; pens, razors, ink horns, and desks – and the uses to which authors, binders, scribes, limners, booksellers, buyers, and readers put such materials. Papers are invited that describe the importance of close analysis of the “material” aspect of book production, the process of book manufacture, and physical encounters with texts to a history of medieval texts and textual cultures.
Contributors are also invited to consider the problem that Fredric Jameson describes above: is it possible to discuss the “materiality” of the text (or book) without “projecting a determinism by matter,” an idealising or positivist approach to the medieval artifact or medieval past? Is it possible, as Jameson and others have suggested, to work beyond both materialism and idealism in writing history – and how would this be so for the “history of the book” or for literary histories of “material texts”? How might medieval, as well as modern writing about books; about matter and materialism; or about matter and form as oppositional categories contribute to our understanding of the stuff from which, and the physical processes by which, manuscripts were made in the Middle Ages?
SESSION 58 (PAPERS): MANUSCRIPTS BEFORE AND AFTER CHAUCER
Session organizers: Daniel Wakelin (email@example.com) and William Robins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In his essay ‘The Ellesmere Chaucer and Contemporary English Literary Manuscripts’ (in M. Stevens and D. Woodward, ed., The Ellesmere Chaucer: Essays in Interpretation, San Marino and Tokyo, 1995), Derek Pearsall argues that English vernacular book production is transformed by Chaucer’s influence and the prestige of the Middle English vernacular after his work began to circulate. It’s a bold thesis that explains a lot: shifts in the amount of English copied; shifts in the hands, layouts or formats of vernacular books; maybe even shifts in the work of people trained to write. Are there, though, counter-examples in particular works, genres, languages, types of books or elements of books, which had already changed in these ways before Chaucer’s work circulated, or which did not change after that? Alongside the success of Chaucer and Middle English, which works, genres, languages, types of books or elements of books lost out? What did later Middle English literary manuscripts owe to earlier books that Chaucerians and fifteenth-century scholars might overlook? How are our answers to these questions shaped by the distinctions between ‘literature’ and other texts which Pearsall carefully argues? To explore these questions, we hope for papers which will, with temporal reach, explore changes in book production and literary culture before and after Chaucer.
SESSION 59 (PAPERS): ANNOTATING CHAUCER AND SHAKESPEARE
Session organizers: A.S. G. Edwards (email@example.com) and C. Jansohn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This session will look at aspects of the theory and practice of textual annotation (as distinct from lexical annotation) as reflected in the history of texts of Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s works. It will explore various problems possibly including: the historical development of such annotation, its cultural implications and its significant figures; the question of what does/does not get annotated and why; the nature of personalized annotation, of readers who have constructed for personal or ideological reasons their own apparatus for reading these works; and the possible future of annotation in an electronic world. The overall aim will be identify similarities and differences involved in annotating the two most frequently edited early English authors and the various contexts in which such annotation takes place.
SESSION 60 (PANEL): EDITING THE WORKS OF CHAUCER: RE-OPENING THE DEBATE
Session organizer: Orietta Da Rold (email@example.com)
The last edition of the Chaucer’s Works appeared in 1987 under the general editorship of Larry D. Benson. In recent years new editions of individual works by Chaucer have appeared, for example, Jill Mann has edited the Canterbury Tales and Barry Windeatt has published a new edition of Troilus and Criseyde. This session ask one single question: is there scope for a new edition of the complete works of Chaucer? Abstracts for short presentations to facilitate discussion on this question are invited. Responses can include issues relating to: Chaucer and his canon; editorial practices; pedagogy, texts and manuscripts; and the wider issue of editing Chaucer in the twenty-first century. This session is a round-table discussion. It will comprise a series of short 5-minute presentations to allow plenty of discussion amongst panelists and the audience.
SESSION 61 (PAPERS): THE FRENCH OF ITALY
Session organizers: Karen Gross (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Marilynn Desmond (email@example.com)
While the “French of England” has received considerable attention of late, particularly at the recent Congress in Swansea, it is equally critical to recognize and analyze the “French of Italy” and its impact on Chaucer’s poetry. Chaucer’s working with Latin texts has long been acknowledged to be a polyglot project, with him relying upon a French translation to mediate between the Latin original and his Middle English translation. His encounters with French and Italian were in different ways just as much exercises in triangulation. In other words, Italy not only introduced Chaucer to Italian authors but also to new ways to read French ones. Papers for this panel might address case-specific aspects of French texts that were composed and circulated in Italy, the variety of registers, languages (including Franco-Italian or other interlanguages) and genres written in Italy, and their relation to the development of a pan-European Francophone culture.
SESSION 62 (PAPERS): LANGUAGE (AND) LEARNING IN LATE MEDIEVAL EUROPE
Session organizer: Susie Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the last decade, the multilingualism of Chaucer and his contemporaries has become a hotly contested and richly productive area of study, but the processes and politics of language learning that lie behind this multilingualism, particularly the learning of vernacular languages, has received considerably less attention. What texts might have been used to provide language instruction, whether in the French of "Stratford atte Bowe" or the English of Padua, and who were the schoolmasters who composed and used them? What kinds of cultural exchanges did they enable, what linguistic and cultural (xenophobic? nationalistic? regional?) prejudices did they install, and what reactions did they inspire? How did language learning intersect and compete with instruction in rhetoric, logic, and above all, grammar--or might these disciplines themselves be seen as a kind of language learning? This panel seeks papers that address any aspect of language learning in late medieval Europe, from works that provide a grounding in a new language, to discussions of the stakes of such instruction, to macaronic texts that play with the author's and readers' knowledge of more than one language.
SESSION 63 (PAPERS): BEFORE CHAUCER
Session organizer: Helen Cooper (email@example.com)
This session invites papers that address the trilingual English context in which Chaucer grew up, and which will have informed his education and earlier reading. In investigating the continuities (and disconnects) with Chaucer’s interests and practice, presentations might consider literary and non-literary genres (lyric, sermon, chronicle, romance, tale), prose and verse, lexicon and metrical issues, as well as the production and circulation of literary materials (the regional origin, sponsorship, lay-out, contents of manuscripts, or the make-up of particular readerships).
SESSION 64 (PAPERS): (PAPERS): CHAUCERIAN HUMANISM AND THE HOUSE OF FAME
Session organizer: Helen Fulton (H.E.Fulton@swansea.ac.uk)
The House of Fame articulates many of the philosophical and metaphysical ideas informing most of Chaucer’s output and is therefore crucial to a reading of his work. Rather than using The House of Fame to ‘read off’ contemporary social structures in London, this session will be concerned with the beginnings of English humanism, its Italian origins, and its articulation in The House of Fame. The humanistic values described in the poem will be applied to contemporary social beliefs about the ‘common good’, the nature of governance, the rise of a commercial economy and other preoccupations of political and urban life. Papers might focus on issues such as the influence on the poem of writers such as Petrarch, Dante, and Marsilio of Padua, politics and political theory, humanism as a theory of urban governance, or the emergence of a humanist subject imagined as a citizen.
SESSION 65 (PAPERS): COGNITIVE ALTERITIES
Session organizer: Jane Chance (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recent postmodern work in psychoanalytic theory and gender studies has opened windows into how early literatures processed and manifested concepts of subjectivity and the personal on the one hand and cultural difference (sexual, gender, racial, class, national) on the other. This panel on cognitive alterities would draw upon the current medical and theoretical research into neurobiology and how the brain functions (and dysfunctions) to shed light on how the Middle Ages incarnated an understanding of diversity in cognitive processes. Contemporary neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, 2001; Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, 2003) have examined in experiments the diverse effects of emotion and the personal, particularly after injury or other impairment, on the brain’s processes of decision-making and judgment, modes of consciousness, language, memory, and the creative. This session invites papers (preferably interdisciplinary) on the Middle Ages: how the mind thinks differently, and how medieval cultures imagined in such differences the individual and personal, through various forms of subjective media.
SESSION 66 (PAPERS): HONOR: FOR DEREK BREWER
Session organizer: Richard F. Green (email@example.com)
Proposals for papers on any aspect of this topic are invited, but those that continue and expand Professor Brewer's own anthropological approach will be particularly welcome, as will submissions from old colleagues, students, and friends of Professor Brewer himself.