Friday, July 13, 2012

MAM at Kalamazoo 2013!

Remnant of a mural in the church of San Benedetto a Piscincula.

  • Call for Papers: MAM at Kalamazoo 2013
  • Call for Papers: Nature and the Natural in the Middle Ages (Univ. of Chicago; May 3-4, 2013)
  • Interesting Map Discovery in Munich, Germany
  • Call for Papers: Voice and Voicelessness in Medieval Europe and Beyond (Boston University, Feb. 28-March 2, 2013)
  • Spanish police recover 12th-century codex

The Medieval Association of the Midwest is seeking submissions to the following sessions for the 2013 International Medieval Congress.  Proposals of approximately 250 words (accompanied by the Participant Information Form, available at should be sent to the organizer for each specific session no later than Sept. 15.
The Formation of Identity in Middle English Arthurian Romance


This session will explore issues of identity formation in Middle English Arthurian Romance through the lens of gender, class, and/or nationality. Although abstracts dealing with Malory and/or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will be considered, I am particularly interested in abstracts that consider less frequently discussed texts such as Awntyrs off Arthur, Gologras and Gawain, Ywain and Gawain, Libeaus Desconus, et cetera. How are the massive political and cultural changes that define the later Middle Ages in Britain reflected, explored, and/or critiqued in Middle English Arthurian romance? Possible topics may include the contested space between subject/object, material culture's participation in identity formation, knightly masculinity/femininity, spiritual/religious identity, geographical (or environmental) impacts on identity formation, transmission of characters from French romances to Middle English romances, boundaries between the human and the monstrous, et cetera.
Organizer: Kristin Bovaird-Abbo (Kristin.BovairdAbbo@UNCO.EDU)
Justice, Law, and Literature in the Middle Ages

How are medieval justice and law treated in philosophical, theological, legal, historical, and literary texts, as well as in the arts?  This question invites an interdisciplinary approach that examines how competing and/or complementary texts, genres, discourses, and values contributed to the formation of medieval concepts of law and justice, such as legal identity, citizenship, sovereignty, polity, fairness, legitimacy, criminality, contracts, international relations, and individual and social welfare. Interdisciplinary papers and new approaches from a global perspective are especially welcome.  
Organizer: Toy Fung-Tung (
Medievalists Reading and Teaching Shakespeare

Scholars of the more recent periods often go back to teach and critique Shakespeare, but those of us from the Classical and medieval periods do so less often.  This session will aim to explore whether scholars of the earlier periods may bring a particularly useful set of knowledge and skills to the teaching and study of Shakespeare's work--perhaps, in some case, even more so than do Renaissance specialists. We invite papers on all aspects of Shakespeare studies that include elements of medieval literature, philosophy, religion, art, and history, as well as linguistics and philology.
Organizer: Edward Risden (
Lydgate without Chaucer

John Lydgate was undeniably influenced by the work of Geoffrey Chaucer.  Explicit references to Chaucer, usage of words coined by Chaucer, and an attitude of self-deprecation all mark the close relationship between these two poets.  This relationship, however, often leaves Lydgate unable to escape from Chaucer’s shadow and maligned for simply not being his self-professed master. There is much more to Lydgate’s work.  Possible angles include:
-Lydgate’s fifteenth-century service to the Lancastrian court, a time period that Chaucer
did not live to see
-Lydgate as civic poet to the burgesses of England
-Lydgate as early playwright, writer of mummings
-Lydgate as visual poet, crafting poems to accompany wall murals
-Lydgate as religious poet, a substantial portion of his corpus that has received far less
attention than his secular works
            -Lydgate as monk and abbey-poet, an agent of Bury St. Edmunds abbey, an institution
whose influence he was born and died under
What happens when we discuss Lydgate apart from Chaucer?  Pursuing such angles may shed light on distinctly Lydgatean concerns that will humanize the man and alter our perception of his poetry.
Organizer: Timothy Jordan (
(Un)true confessions: love's affairs, adventures and consolations in the Iberian Middle Ages


MAM’s Hispano-Medievalists are anxious to share the love once again in Kalamazoo. On this occasion, love, as revealed through confessionary events and representations, is pressed into service. This shared erudition is certain to prove stimulating and invigorating for all those researching the discourse, economics, and culture of love.
Organizer: Carlos Hawley (

Medieval Business:  Commerce, Economics, and Trade  
This interdisciplinary session is related to commerce and economics of various countries and cultures during the Middle Ages.  The focus will be on the practice of “business” (to use a modern term) at this time with an emphasis on processes, material culture, and how the life of the average individual was affected, enhanced, and altered.  This session will pull together several topic-focused papers across disciplines in an effort to not only identify emergent themes in medieval trade, but also to understand the pervasive aspect of “business” during this timeframe.
Old Norse and Beowulf: Exploring the Great Divide


This session proposes to move beyond the sources/analogues quagmire into a critical/analytical consideration of the themes, narrative patterns and tones that Old Norse texts like Grettis Saga and Hrolf Saga Kraki have in common with Beowulf.
Organizer: Nikolas Haydock (

Nature and the Natural in the Middle Ages

May 3-4, 2013

University of Chicago

In the Middle Ages, as now, people appealed to the idea of nature and the natural as an authorizing, legitimizing force, though their conceptions of what nature was and how it worked varied considerably.  Nature was frequently aligned with God, with Creation, with right order and the good, and was evoked to support a range of projects, political programs, and ideas.  The created world provided an object of endless study and of visual representation.  Bestiaries, gemologies, cosmologies, and encyclopedias sought to order, describe, and understand the natural world that, in turn, was depicted in the borders of manuscripts, tapestries, statuary and carvings.  An accurate and comprehensive understanding of the created world was necessary, as patristic writers such as Augustine and Origen affirmed, in order to arrive at a correct interpretation of Scripture.  Since the created world was God’s work, the concepts of nature and the natural had significant normative and explanatory authority.  The presumed nature of women, for instance, was used to delimit their sphere of action in the world.  Nature appears as a literary character in the works of Bernard Silvestris, Alain de Lille, Jean de Meun, and others, where she is associated with divine principles of creation. The natural world can be ordered in literal, textual, or visual terms, while the disorder of nature can signal moral turpitude.  The vernacular is the natural language of people, a distinction with implications for both poetics and politics. Political authority is itself naturalized, as legitimate kings, unlike tyrants, are ‘natural’.

Such disparate meanings and uses of nature in the Middle Ages have most often been considered within the framework of specific disciplines. This conference will bring together specialists from a range of disciplinary perspectives in order to consider in broad terms medieval representations and understandings of nature and the natural world in its many guises – theological, legal, linguistic, poetic, artistic, scientific, political, and sexual.  We aim to provide a space for productive dialogue across disciplinary boundaries in order to explore how the practices of one field may illuminate work being done in other areas, and to generate discussion across fields, but within the framework of medieval studies, understood in broad terms that include non-Western and non-Christian areas.

This conference will be open to the public.

Those interested in presenting are invited to send a 250-word abstract to Daisy Delogu ( by September 1, 2012.   


Mural in the monastery of St. Scholastica, Subiaco, Italy

Interesting Map Discovery in Munich, Germany

Submitted to the ExLibris Listserv by Falk Eisermann (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke / Inkunabelsammlung):

"A hitherto unknown copy of the Waldseemüller map (with variants) was found in Munich University Library a couple of days ago and is already available online; see below (English text available at"
Additional information (in German) at: .
Digitized version of the map at "Open Access LMU": .

Voice and Voicelessness in Medieval Europe and Beyond
An interdisciplinary conference to be held at Boston University (USA) 
February 28-March 2, 2013 

Contributions are invited for an interdisciplinary conference examining the practices and values attached to the human voice in medieval cultures.  An edited volume is planned. 

The question of “voice and voicelessness” engages with several important trends in medieval studies today, including issues of law and representation; theology and embodiment; historicist models of subjectivity; the poetics and esthetics of marginality; and the linguistic dynamics of intercultural encounter. The first goal of the project is to examine the axis proposed by the conference title as approached by scholars working on medieval literatures, theology, law, art history, history, philosophy, and musicology. The project’s second, methodological goal is to seek a common ground of interdisciplinary engagement by examining how distinct areas of scholarly endeavor approach a problem of universal resonance but elusive definition.  This pursuit will be further enriched by the conference’s international composition, so that disciplinary, methodological, and national habits of thought and argument will be brought into dialogue.  The topic of voice and voicelessness engages with questions related to the expression of self and respect for an other, and so lends itself particularly well to this multi-level encounter. Contributions that are transnational or transdisciplinary in nature, or which interrogate the relations between contemporary and medieval thought will be especially appreciated.

Prospective contributors are invited to send 500-word abstracts to no later than July 20, 2012, using the keyword “Voice” in the message title.  Please include a recent CV with your submission. Papers as delivered should be 30 minutes in length. The language of the conference and publication is English.  Participants will be notified shortly thereafter.

Irit Kleiman
Assistant Professor of French
Department of Romance Studies
Boston University
718 Commonwealth Ave, #301D
Boston, MA 02215
Tel: 617-358-4653
Fax: 617-353-6246

Spanish police recover 12th-century codex
The Codex Calixtinus, an illuminated 12th-century manuscript that is considered the world’s first guidebook, was recovered July 4 by Spanish police a year after it was stolen from the library of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The presumed thief, Manuel Fernández Castiñeiras, a disgruntled former employee of the cathedral, housed the priceless manuscript in a garbage bag in his garage along with a variety of other stolen books from the cathedral’s library and €1.2 million (US$1.5 million) in cash. Susan Boynton writes about the importance of this codex. More about the robbery (in Spanish) here....
Fine Books Blog, July 6; OUPblog, July 6; Hechos de Hoy, July 6

Mural in the Sacro Speco in Subiaco, Italy.

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