Thursday, July 23, 2015

CfP: In Fashions Reminiscent (Kalamazoo 2016)

Call for Papers
Punctum Books Sponsored Session
at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 12-15, 2016

Punctum Books is seeking proposals for the following session:

In Fashions Reminiscent:  The Overlapping Objects, Discourses and Ideas of the Sixties and the Middle Ages

In John Kerry's well-known 1971 Senate Fulbright Commission testimony about the "ravages" of the Vietnam War, he compared the behaviors and ideologies of American military practice and policy in the Sixties to those of the Middle Ages.  He said that his fellow soldiers told stories about how "they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads. . . cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan." As this statement suggests, though not often brought into conversation, the issues, concerns, and controversies of the Sixties have much to offer studies of the medieval world – and vice versa. Taking a cue from the complexities and challenges of the Vietnam Era, the Civil Rights movement, and other social developments of the Sixties, this session invites papers that explore trans-historical and/or cross-cultural overlaps between postmodern America and premodern Europe. By using the Sixties as a fresh way into the so-called Middle Ages, the organizers hope to explore the ways in which history and knowledge, past and present, are collapsed, collated, and inter-connected. Accordingly, the session will deliberately utilize a cross-disciplinary lens to analyze shared ideas, objects, perspectives, types, tropes, and terms, aiming to bring into sharper focus the similarities and differences between periods, ideas, discourses, nomenclature, and even academic disciplines. Seeking new connections and considerations, the organizers are looking for proposals that variously address (or work within) the following themes or threads:

-Drugs & Addiction (For example, what was the rationale of mind-altering in the Middle Ages? What were the accepted perceptions of medicinal vs. recreational drug usage, and how was "addiction" understood?)

-Dissent & Protest (What types of behaviors were seen as "radical" in the premodern world? In what ways is heresy simultaneously a political and religious revolt? What forms of "whistleblowing" are seen in the face of corrupt governments?)

-Security & Defense, Terror & Violence (Was there a kind of de facto "Iron Curtain" between Western Europe and the Saracen lands of "the East"? Does the "military industrial complex" effectively develop in the Middle Ages? Is the "Cold War" in any way connected to premodern European conflicts? How was politicized "terror" defined and understood?  What constituted police brutality, and what served to define/shape the premodern police force? What were major forms of "intelligence", investigation, and surveillance, and what types of paranoia were a result?)

-Religious Fanaticism (Where might the line be drawn between medieval/modern piety and fanaticism? What cultural and political role did fanatics – Christian and otherwise – play in premodern Europe?)

Please send proposals with a one-page abstract and Participant Information Form ( <> ) to Geoffrey W. Gust  ( ) by September 15, 2015.

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