Thursday, June 4, 2015

CfP -- Animal Languages: Interspecies Communication in the Middle Ages

Call For Papers

Animal Languages:
Interspecies Communication in the Middle Ages

Alison Langdon
Western Kentucky University

Until relatively recently, medieval scholars have tended to focus on the symbolic valence of nonhuman animals, to read their behavior and characteristics as representative of explicitly human interests and concerns. With the advent of critical animal studies new work has begun to critique traditional humanist scholarship by challenging any absolute distinction between the categories of “human” and “animal,” leading to new readings of animals in the medieval world as living creatures rather than merely figurative representations of human experience and values.

Language provides a particularly rich locus for this exploration. Drawing on a tradition stretching back to Genesis, many medieval writers identified the capacity for language as evidence of possession of reason, that faculty which was seen to separate humans from all the rest of God’s creation. At the same time, many animals were understood to possess language of their own and in some cases to participate in human language. Although medieval philosophers generally deny intention and significance in animal vocalizations, a range of medieval textual traditions suggests that animals were commonly seen to communicate within and between species.

This interdisciplinary volume seeks articles of 6,000-9,000 words from all fields of medieval studies exploring language, broadly construed, as part of the continued interrogation of the boundaries of human and nonhuman animals in the Middle Ages. How, when, and with whom did animals talk in the medieval world? What kinds of communicative strategies did medieval people recognize in the animal world, and how were they interpreted?  How was human meaning imposed on animal vocalizations?  How does the use of animals as symbolic language in verbal and visual texts draw upon empirical understanding of nonhuman communication (body language, etc.)? How might nonhuman animals remind us of the embodied nature of language itself?

Proposals of 300-500 words should be submitted by e-mail to Dr. Alison Langdon at the following address: Deadline for proposals is August 1, 2015. Notification of accepted proposals will be made by August 15, 2015, with complete chapters due by June 1, 2016. The volume has been invited for submission to Ashgate and Amsterdam University Press.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Call for Papers: “Heaven, Hell, and Little Rock”

Submitted by Jay Ruud:

“Heaven, Hell, and Little Rock”
Call for Papers

Forty-First Annual Conference
Southeastern Medieval Association
Little Rock, AR October 22-24, 2015

You are cordially invited to participate in the 2015 meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association.  This year’s meeting will take place at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Thursday, October 22, 2015 through Saturday, October 24, 2015, and is sponsored by the University of Central Arkansas.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Heaven, Hell, and Little Rock,” in celebration of a host of anniversaries celebrated this year (the Fourth Lateran Council, the 750th anniversary of Dante’s birth, the burning of Jan Hus, the signing of the Magna Carta). We welcome submissions and encourage panels related to these anniversaries or on other medieval topics.   

Further, in acknowledgment of the pivotal role that Little Rock, this year’s conference location, played in the American civil rights movement. In the spirit of this significant step in; the civil rights movement, we would like to encourage for this conference an emphasis on the “Other” Middle Ages, and encourage panels on East Asia, South Asia, and Islam at the time of the European Middle Ages, as well as panels on the “Other” within medieval Christendom (e.g., Jews and other non-Christians, Norse encounters with “Skraelingas,” or the treatment of the disabled, diseased, sexually “deviant,” or “mad” in Christian society).

In addition, this year’s meeting will include several sessions devoted to undergraduate research.  Please encourage students who have done especially good work to submit abstracts.

Please submit proposals for sessions and individual papers using the link at no later than July 1, 2015.

Plenary Speakers:

Dr. Peter S. Hawkins of the Yale Divinity School (author of Dante’s Testaments: Essays on Scriptural Imagination and Dante: A Brief History among others) will give a plenary address called "Dante's 'Other': Thinking outside the Christian Box."
Dr. Thomas A. Fudge of the University of New England (author of Heresy and Hussites in Late Medieval Europe and The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Heresy and Criminal Procedure, among others) will give a plenary address on Hus and his martyrdom.
Dr. Stephen Owen of Harvard University (author of The Late Tang: Chinese Poetry of the Mid-Ninth Century (827-860) and The Making of Early Chinese Classical Poetry among others) will give a plenary address on Tang poetry and culture.