Monday, September 7, 2015

Reminder - MAM's Call for Papers for Kalamazoo 2016

From MAM's 2008 meeting in Fargo, ND. Studying a book
made by students at the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN).

The Deadline for the 2016 International Congress for Medieval Studies is rapidly approaching. Here again are the MAM-sponsored sessions for 2016 (please contact the organizers directly should you wish to submit an abstract):

Anglo-Saxon Elements in Middle English Literature
Session Organizer: Dominique Battles (

Recent scholarship has argued for the continuity of Anglo-Saxon literary tradition into the post-Conquest period.  Anglo-Saxon narrative elements of character, landscape, battle tactic, architecture, mood, and plot design survive into Middle English literature as late as the fourteenth-century, long after this tradition was believed to have died out.  Certain Middle English romances feature a hero characterized largely in Anglo-Saxon terms going up against a villain who bears all the hallmarks of Norman nobility and privilege, contrasting pre and post-Conquest ways of doing things. What aspects of characterization, such as age, outlook, weapons and clothing, and domestic setting, do Middle English writers use to convey Anglo-Saxon identity in the hero? What aspects of setting and landscape, both natural and man-made, do post-Conquest writers use to capture a pre-Conquest milieu for their stories? Is Anglo-Saxon identity in a character something to be embraced or outgrown in Middle English literature?

Animal Languages
Session Organizer: Alison Langdon (

Language is one trait by which humans were defined against other animals in the Middle Ages, yet at the same time many nonhuman animals were understood to possess language of their own and in some cases to participate in human language. This session will explore 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?

Chronicles and Grimoires: The Occult as Political Commentary
Session Organizer: Dominique Hoche (

Whether seen in signs and portents, or read in grimoires or magic books, the occult in the premodern world is both marveled at and feared.  A significant amount of the description of occult and sorcerous activity functions as political commentary, whether as direct criticism of secular current events or as a voice or conceptual space for the spiritual “other” in medieval society. Some examples of these voices can be heard in the chronicle of Eustache le Moine (c. 1170-1217), who studied necromancy and the black arts and who ultimately became a pirate; in the popularity and repeated multi-language printings of the Clavicule of Solomon in Italy in the 1300’s; in the introductory and defensive letters in the German humanist scholar Agrippa’s books on occult philosophy (c. 1533); in the tempered criticism of Johan Weyer’s De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563) or its opposite, Martin Del Rio’s inflammatory Disquisitionum magicae (1608). Political commentary regarding the occult often tests the limits of scribal activity, and can lead to persecution and/or charges of treason or heresy.  We welcome papers that explore this dangerous connection between the reception of the occult and political commentary or criticism.

Law and Ideal Justice in Medieval Contexts and Beyond
Session Organizer: Toy-Fung Tung (

How do medieval law and ideal justice converge or clash in legal, literary, philosophical, theological, and historical texts, as well as in the visual arts, architecture, and performances? This question invites an interdisciplinary approach that examines how narrative and other non-legal perspectives can address thorny issues of justice, where law fails. Of particular interest is how competing texts, genres, discourses, expressions, and values contributed to the formation of medieval concepts of law and justice, such as legal identity, citizenship, sovereignty, polity, community, fairness, legitimacy, criminality, contracts, international relations, and individual and social welfare. Interdisciplinary papers and new approaches from a global perspective are especially welcome, as are papers that link medieval concepts of law and justice with their subsequent development in succeeding centuries.

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