Schedule: 11 July
10:00-10:30 Welcome and Conference Opening
10:30-12:00 Smudging, Carter Revard, Presidential Lecture
1:30-3:00 SESSIONS: GROUP 1
While Chaucer’s enduring position at the center of Middle English studies is increasingly interrogated within Anglophone literary studies, this session focuses on Chaucer’s cultural and geopolitical functions across the globe. Who owns the medieval past, and whose past is medieval? Should Chaucerians dispersed across the world participate in political debates regarding English, British, or European identity (past or present)? How do reception histories and artistic appropriations of the medieval past worldwide reframe understandings of race, home, and cultural belonging? What duties do we have to far-flung international audiences in our acts of scholarship, teaching, editing, or publishing?
Thread: Chaucer Abroad
Organizer: Louise D’Arcens (University of Wollongong, Australia); Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University)
- Hwanhee Park (Incheon National University), “How to Own Chaucer in Twenty-First Century South Korea: Experiences and Perspectives"
- Elizabeth Watkins (Loyola University New Orleans), "The Canterbury Tales in Translation in the Philippines”
- Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo (University of Iceland), “Chaucer Makes Sense in Africa”
- Kathy Forni (Loyola University Maryland), “Marketing Chaucer: The Power of the Image”
Session 1B: The Value of Truth (Position)
What is the value of truth? This session asks each participant to take a stance on how truth matters, either to histories of medieval knowledge or for us today. Of course, what “truth” means is not straightforward. Middle English treuth variously denoted fidelity, righteousness, doctrine, and correspondence to reality. In historical grands récits, the Middle Ages appear both slavishly beholden to theological truths and blind to the rational truths of the Enlightenment. Today, we’re sometimes said to live in a “post-truth” society, whether because politicians lie with impunity or because the contextual conditions of truth-claims are widely acknowledged. Moreover, the past two decades of Middle English studies have criticized and proposed alternatives to the positivism that once determined the truths of our field. Has “truth” changed for us? Participants are invited to stake a position as to what the worth of “truth” might be.
Thread: Forming Knowledge
Organizer: Julie Orlemanski (University of Chicago)
Moderator: Julie Orlemanski
- Jessica Henderson (University of Toronto), “Truth-Claims in Middle English Medical Writing and the Crisis of Reproducibility”
- Karl Steel (Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center), "Skepticism: On ‘Miscreaunce’ in Ovidian Metempsychosis"
- Lee Read (Wilde Lake High School), “The Wordes Moote Be Cosyn To The Dede”
- Miriamne Ara Krummel (University of Dayton), “The Truth is There Some Where: 1255, Belaset, and Hugh of Lincoln”
This session seeks to discuss what literary scholars and historians have learned from one another about Chaucer and late medieval culture and society, and whether our conversation is evolving or faltering and being superseded. Does occupying the interstitial spaces between literature and history result in a sharper or richer image, or have the two disciplines been talking at cross purposes? Is now the best moment to evaluate what we have learned from talking together, and will the outcome suggest that it is worthwhile to continue the dialogue between historians and literary scholars? Or are we instead facing a period of retreat, isolation, new alliances?
Thread: History Now
Organizers: Clementine Oliver (California State University, Northridge); Elliot Kendall (University of Exeter); Sebastian Sobecki (University of Groningen)
Moderator: Paul Strohm (Columbia University)
- Martha Carlin (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), “John Gower: Loan Shark, Proud Husband, and Friend of Richard II's Murderer? (The Importance of Interdisciplinary Dialogue)”
- Matthew Giancarlo (University of Kentucky), “History of, History for, History with …”
- Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia), “The Forms of Literary History”
- Steve Rigby (University of Manchester), “Chaucer and Ideology”
- Lynn Staley (Colgate University), “Chaucer’s History”
After 1200, Old English ceased being widely copied. The Tremulous Hand of Worcester is the latest figure known to have studied the language closely until the mid sixteenth century. What happened in between? Did readers and writers of insular French, Middle English, or Anglo-Latin care about and talk about Old English? If so, why did they care and how did they express their interest? Were early modern Anglo-Saxonists aware of having predecessors? This panel calls for short position papers exploring answers to these question using as many kinds of evidence as possible: manuscript glosses, chronicles, legal texts, writings on language and translation, and more.
Organizers: Nicholas Watson (Harvard University); Elaine Treharne (Stanford University)
Moderator: Nicholas Watson; Elaine Treharne
- David F. Johnson (Florida State University), “The Tremulous Hand of Worcester: The ‘First Anglo-Saxonist’”
- Kathryn A. Lowe (University of Chicago), “Using Old English after the Conquest: Charter Texts”
- Ian Cornelius (Loyola University, Chicago), “Middle English Verse before 1066”
- Wendy Scase (University of Birmingham), “Late Medieval Scribes' Old English”
- Scott Bevill (University of Tennessee), “Copies All the Way Down: The Parkerian Transcriptions of Bede's Death Song in CCCC 100”
Acknowledging exciting engagements with proliferating adaptations of Chaucer worldwide, this session looks inward, seeking interrogations of and challenges to Chaucer’s place at the center of the Middle English (and perhaps late-medieval) canon. As we explore ways in which Chaucer authorizes Middle English studies, is it time—or too late—to ask (again) about de-centering the canon? Should we keep on loving Chaucer as the preeminent textual maker, or hate him for overshadowing the diversity and range of Middle English (medieval?) textuality? Papers, manifestos, essays, polemics, or persuasions welcome, as we assess the benefits and/or liabilities of keeping Chaucer and his legacy as the authorial, textual, canonical, or aesthetic center of the field.
Thread: Making the Text
Organizer: Patricia Clare Ingham (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Moderator: Patricia Clare Ingham
- R. D. Perry (New Chaucer Society Postdoctoral Fellow), “Done with the Canterbury Tales”
- Katie Little (University of Colorado, Boulder), “Chaucer and the Crisis of the Humanities”
- Marion Turner (University of Oxford), “Rethinking Biography”
- Sierra Lomuto (University of Pennsylvania), “Thinking With and Beyond Chaucer: Adaptations for the Inclusive Classroom”
- Robert J. Meyer-Lee (Agnes Scott College), “Loving and Hating Canonicity”
Session 1F: Chaucer and Rape: New Directions (Lightning)
This session seeks papers focusing on representations of sexual violence in Chaucer’s poetry. Chaucer’s literary engagement with rape is both persistent and nuanced, further complicated by his involvement in Cecily Chaumpaigne’s 1380 raptus case, and this session will feature papers that examine that engagement in innovative ways. Speakers can contextualize Chaucer’s treatment of rape within medieval legal or historical discourses; they can examine his work in conversation with other works about sexual violence, like pastourelles; or they can discuss productive ways of teaching Chaucer’s rape texts in the college classroom. This session particularly welcomes new work linking sexual violence in Chaucerian texts to contemporary issues like campus sexual violence, alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, and anti-rape education efforts.
Organizer: Carissa M. Harris (Temple University)
- Rachel E. Moss (University of Oxford), “From John and Aleyn’s Jape to Brock Turner’s Text: The Homosocial Gaze and Rape”
- Nicole Nyffennegger (University of Bern), “From Chaucer to Stanford and Back”
- Alison Gulley (Appalachian State University), “Rape Erasure in Chaucer’s Writing: The Cases of Cecilia and Custance”
- Nicole Nolan Sidhu (East Carolina University), “Sexual Assault and Religious Difference in the Man of Law's Tale”
- Sarah Baechle (University of Mississippi), “‘Oure corn is stoln’: Pastoral Discourse and Chaucer’s Rape Narratives”
- Jessica Rosenfeld (Washington University in St. Louis), “Chaucer and Consent in the Classroom”
The inception of formalist methods in literary studies ("practical criticism" and "new criticism") in the early twentieth century made lyric poetry a privileged object of analysis. Yet Caroline Levine's influential Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015) not only proposes a new set of terms of art for formalism but also asserts the primacy of novels in formalist studies, even as other disciplines take formal approaches to a variety of media. What kinds of "affordances," to use Levine's term, do medieval forms offer to new formalisms? Within this critical landscape, should formalism still take poetry as a primary object of study? This panel invites position papers that take up the question in its title by engaging with medieval texts, art, disciplinary history, manuscript studies, or any other topics pertaining to formalism.
Organizer: Ingrid Nelson (Amherst College)
Moderator: Ingrid Nelson
- Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY), “The Embarrassments of Rhyme”
- Katherine Jager (University of Houston, Downtown), “The Affordance of Memory: ‘The Rebel Letters’ of 1381, Formalism and the Function of the Lyric”
- Kara Gaston (University of Toronto), “Forms of Constellation”
This session invites papers that engage with current approaches to Chaucer's use of science in his dream vision corpus, examining how Chaucer’s knowledge of physics, metaphysics and the study of natural phenomena contributes to his literary works. The connections between science, technology and the imagination in medieval literary culture have long been of interest in Chaucer studies, and attention to these topics has only intensified in recent years. Papers will investigate the ways in which Chaucer’s scientific learning is imaginatively presented in his fiction. How does Chaucer draw upon Aquinas’s Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle creatively in his dream vision poetry, for example? How does he apply or even recreate Aristotelian science?
Organizer: Charlotte Rudman (King’s College London)
Moderator: Charlotte Rudman
- Micah Goodrich (University of Connecticut), “‘Or as craft countrefeteth kinde’: Technologies of Counterfeit in the House of Fame”
- Megan Leitch (Cardiff University), “Chaucer’s Dream Visions and the Science of Sleep”
- Boyda Johnstone (Fordham University), “The Nature of Healing in Chaucerian Dream Poetry”
Scholarship has become accustomed to addressing “symbolic violence”—according to Bourdieu, “that form of domination which... is only exerted through the communication in which it is disguised”—but of course medieval literature is replete with depictions of physical violence as well. This violence is also the subject of contested history; Steven Pinker, for instance, has recently argued, in a kind of evolutionary-psychology updating of Norbert Elias, that humankind is on a perpetual progression upward from greater to lesser violence. This session seeks papers on violence in Middle English literature: its representation, its significance, its relationship to symbolic power and domination, its relation to meaning-making and communication, or the competing ways in which it is interpreted, justified, or suppressed.
Organizer: Robert Epstein (Fairfield University)
Moderator: Robert Epstein
- Nicholas Perkins (St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford), “Communicating Violence, or, The Silence of the Limbs”
- Justin Park (Yale University), “‘His ire is thus agoon’: Anger and Violence in the Knight's Tale”
- Alyssa Coltrain (Rutgers University), “‘Weppons Wyghtly Weld’: Violence and the Limits of Hagiography in Sir Gowther”
- Ashby Kinch (University of Montana), “Practicing Violence: The Manciple’s Prologue and the Luttrell Psalter”
3:00-3:30 Coffee break
3:30-5:00 SESSIONS: GROUP 2
Chaucer accents Eastern elements beyond those present in his sources. He lavishes attention on Syrian women—Zenobia (Monk's Tale), the Sultaness (Man of Law's Tale)—and on Dido (Legend of Good Women and House of Fame); he heightens Islam’s role in Man of Law's Tale, sets Squire's Tale and Prioress’s Tale in eastern lands, and compiles eighth-century Egyptian astronomer Messahala’s texts in Treatise on the Astrolabe. From characters to content to forms, Arabic learning and Eastern elements reverberate. We seek papers addressing such elements in Chaucer, both how Islam and the East shape Chaucer's poetry and, reciprocally, how Chaucer reshapes Islam and the East.
Thread: Chaucer Abroad
Organizers: David Hadbawnik (American University of Kuwait), Susie Nakley (St. Joseph’s College)
Moderator: David Hadbawnik
- Gabriel Ford (Converse College), “Arabic Frametales and Chaucerian Fabliaux: A Reassessment”
- Leila K. Norako (University of Washington), “Chaucer's Spectrum of Otherness”
- Radhika Koul (Stanford University), “The Canterbury Tales in Light of the Kathāsaritasāgara: A New Perspective from the East”
As medievalists continue to direct their attention outward, toward different times, places, disciplines, cultures, and languages, their approaches are increasingly interdisciplinary. Studies of post-medieval Chaucer, of Chaucer inside and outside of Europe, of Chaucer and various branches of medieval science, among others, have become familiar to us, but invite further investigation. Is there what might be called a “method of interdisciplinarity,” which unites such approaches? Do these various approaches have ultimately similar aims? What assumptions underlie them, and what draws scholars to them? Unlike other sessions interested in the content of specific forms of interdisciplinary scholarship, this one is focused on its methods: how do we practice interdisciplinarity in Chaucer studies, and why do we employ the methods we employ? What are the most promising tactics and approaches for new research?
Thread: Forming Knowledge
Organizer: Michelle Karnes (University of Notre Dame)
Moderator: Michelle Karnes
- Ingrid Nelson (Amherst College), “Thinking (with) Media”
- Shazia Jagot (University of Surrey), “Chaucer and Arabic”
- Candace Barrington (Central Connecticut State University), “To Interdisciplinarity and Beyond”
Session 2C: Do We Need Periodization? (Position)
Medieval studies has not been entirely well-served by traditional periodization, since the med/Ren divide produces a kind of opposition: religious, communal, boring vs. secular, individual, new. And so in the last 20–30 years medievalists have attempted to break down (or through) this divide. In response to such volumes as Brian Cummings and James Simpson’s (eds.) Cultural Reformations, it is now worth asking whether what is gained by this revision is greater than what is lost. This session seeks position papers on the topic of periodization that address questions such as: Does one need an idea of the Middle Ages in order to teach and study it? What would replace traditional periodization were we to dispense with it? Does periodization prioritize certain kinds of historical change, and, if so, what are they and why? Is the term used in recent English histories of drama—Tudor—more or less helpful?
Thread: History Now
Organizer: Katherine Little (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Moderator: Katherine Little
- Laura Ashe (University of Oxford), “Not Period but Process”
- Kathy Lavezzo (University of Iowa), “Bad Medievalism”
- Theresa Coletti (University of Maryland, College Park), “Periodization, Temporalities, Medieval Drama”
- Mike Rodman Jones (University of Nottingham), “New Directions in Med-Ren Studies”
- David Matthews (University of Manchester), “Now what?”
Session 2D: Translating the Non-Human (Seminar)
This seminar invites participants to consider the connections created by translations of the nonhuman into human languages. To what extent is language the domain of the human, and the human defined by language? And how does thinking about nonhumans destabilize these questions? Participants might share work on how nature is translated onto the page, the ways that ideas of humanness are connected to non- or plurilingualism, translations of the nonhuman across genre, and how translation as a contact zone between the human and the nonhuman might encourage exchange and neighborliness between the two.
Organizers: Liam Lewis (University of Warwick); Haylie Swenson (The George Washington University)
Moderators: Liam Lewis; Haylie Swenson
- Susan Crane (Columbia University), “Charming: How to Talk to Things”
- Lara Farina (West Virginia University), “‘Simples’ and the Foliation of Language”
- Megan E. Palmer (Independent Scholar), “Translating Tracks of Exile: Avian Eloquence in Seafarer and Wanderer”
- Arthur J. Russell (Case Western Reserve University), “Field Studies in Mimesis”
- Rob Wakeman (Mount Saint Mary College), “The Simplicity of the Ass”
- Andrea Whitacre (Indiana University), “How to Re-Translate a Werewolf”
- Tom White (University of Oxford), “Written in Trees”
This session explores medieval manuscripts and/or early printed books in a state of mobility, moving from loss to “perfection.” Examples might include manuscripts with pages that are not original or where illuminations have been inserted or restored, as is the case in Cambridge Gg.4.27, which includes Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and in Morgan M. 126, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, among others; chronicles and guildhall records that are “perfected” over time with pages added to fill out the history or record long after the original scribes or writers are gone; or early printed books filled out with facsimile pages or with leaves from other editions by the same printer (frequent in Caxton editions). Discussion of perfected copies will open to a larger consideration of what precisely constitutes a book, along with questions of making and reception.
Thread: Making the Text
Organizer: Martha Driver (Pace University)
Moderator: Martha Driver
- Hope Johnston (Baylor University), “Perfecting Imperfect Early Printed Chaucers”
- Siân Echard (University of British Columbia), “‘Imperfect and Valueless’: Early Modern Transcriptions, Modern Scholars”
- Devani Singh (University of Geneva), “Tampering or Perfection?: Renaissance Additions to Chaucer's Early Books”
Session 2F: Allegorical Scale (Paper)
Allegory is, in a very basic sense, a device for manipulating scale. At the beginning of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Lady Philosophy literally changes scale, at some times “keep[ing] herself within common mortal limits” while at others “seem[ing] to strike at the heavens with the crown of her head” and even “pierc[ing] heaven itself.” In doing so, she figures the way in which allegorical reading and composition link interpersonal interactions, human emotions and, in many cases, closely observed mimetic detail to broader moral, political, and philosophical problems. This panel welcomes discussions of the relationship between allegory and scale ranging from close readings of particular figures to broader considerations of the workings of allegorical scale as such. To what extent is it useful to think about allegory as a characteristically medieval technology for adjusting the scale at which we read and think?
Thread: Middle English Literature at Scale
Organizers: Katharine Breen (Northwestern University); Carolynn Van Dyke (Lafayette College)
Moderator: Carolynn Van Dyke
- Danielle Allor (Rutgers University), “Allegorical Instability in Piers Plowman’s Tree of Charity”
- Megan Cook (Colby College) “Very Small Forms: Heraldry, Allegory, and Scale”
- Seth Strickland (Cornell University) “Peace at Peace: Scales of Redemption in Piers Plowman”
In this session we seek to historicize medieval affect. Papers might consider the following questions: Is there a specifically Chaucerian affect that develops through Chaucer’s particular engagements with the genres of dream vision and fin amor, or through the “impersonated artistry” of The Canterbury Tales, or in the later construction of “Father Chaucer” by English and Scottish poets following him? What are the relationships between form and affect in Chaucer’s poetry and in that of his contemporaries? To what extent are objects and material contexts crucial for affective interaction in late medieval poetry? What are the mutually constitutive relationships between gender and affect in late medieval poetry? How does affect matter in the construction of religious identity; can we speak of a specifically Jewish or Muslim affect?
Organizers: Glenn Burger (Queen’s College and the Graduate Centre, CUNY); Holly Crocker (University of South Carolina)
Moderator: Holly Crocker
- Siobhain Bly Calkin (Carleton University), “Affect and the Construction of Religious Identity: Tales of Christians, Saracens, and Cross Relics in the Age of Chaucer”
- Stephanie Trigg (The University of Melbourne), “Emotional Practices: Chaucer, Veronica and the History of Emotions”
- John Fry (University of Texas at Austin), “Hagiography’s ‘Structure of Feeling,’ the Legend of Good Women, and the Limits of Martyrdom”
The complex lineage of Chaucer’s works has been subject to much scholarly scrutiny, with the acknowledged sources of Chaucer’s works and manuscripts gesturing towards a variety of male auctoritates. However, a recent special issue of The Chaucer Review, focusing on women’s relation to the literary canon, suggests that reconsideration of the influence of female-coded modes of knowledge, whether intellectual, spiritual or scientific, is now timely and urgent. We therefore invite short papers engaging with innovative, more capacious ways of accounting for the formation of the English canon at the time of Chaucer—papers that acknowledge female-coded epistemologies and the much neglected contribution of women’s piety and literacy to Chaucer’s intellectual landscape and that thereby open up our understanding of processes of canon formation beyond traditional patrilineal lines of transmission.
Organizers: Liz Herbert McAvoy (Swansea University); Roberta Magnani (Swansea University)
Moderator: Roberta Magnani
- Dorothy Kim (Vassar College), “‘Alt-Feminism,’ the Prioress, and Female-Coded Epistemologies of Antisemitism
- Samantha Seal (University of New Hampshire), “Disowning Philippa: The Poetic Posterity of Chaucer's Wife”
- Diane Watt (University of Surrey), “The Paston Women and Chaucer: Canon Formation in the 15th Century”
Session 2I: Innovations in Access: Using New Media Tools to Teach Medieval Texts (Paper)
Organizers: Kara Crawford (The Bishop’s School); John Hoarty (Saint Ignatius College Prep)
Moderators: Kara Crawford; John Hoarty
- Moira Fitzgibbons (Marist College), “Close Reading in the Age of Screens: Teaching the Canterbury Tales alongside Graphic Narratives”
- Gina Armstrong (Birmingham-Southern College), Teresa P. Reed (Jacksonville State University), “The Place Where You Live: Digital Humanities as Accessible Pedagogy”
- Kenna L. Olsen (Mount Royal University), “Emerging Medievalisms: Tweets, Pods, Popular, and Popularized - New Medieval Media”
This session aims to think of death as something other than a contest of power, a limit of meaning, a zone in which sovereignty plays out, or a dispersal of the self within absolute expenditure. It aims to circumvent thinking about death that has dominated work inspired by Hegel, Bataille, and biopolitics, and to avoid work that presents death as a grim struggle of the self against an indifferent world. This session therefore invites papers that consider medieval death practices in terms of community, hospice, and the management of shared vulnerability. It hopes to collect papers that are both "traditionally" archival and speculatively philosophical.
Organizers: Karl Steel (Brooklyn College, CUNY); Ashby Kinch (University of Montana)
Moderator: Ashby Kinch
- Justin Brent (Presbyterian College), “Ars Moriendi and Palliative Community”
- Elizabeth Light (Fordham University), “Deathbed Biopolitics: Power, Care, and Otherworldly Visions in Julian of Norwich”
- Andrew Kraebel (Trinity University), “Auctoritas Moriendi”
- Rebecca F. McNamara (Westmont College), “Impending Death, Experience, and Authority in Chaucer”
- Devin Byker (College of Charleston), “Appearing, Revealing, Glimmering: Erasmus’s Vivid Deathbed”
- Bridget Whearty (Binghamton University, SUNY), “Death, Care, and Prayer in the Fifteenth Century”
5:15-6:00 Members Parliament
6:00-8:00 Research Expo with Reception at Hart House
Organizers: Rebecca McNamara (University of California, Los Angeles); Matthew Fisher (University of California, Los Angeles)
- Anthony Bale (Birkbeck, University of London), “St Barbara's Tower”
- Thomas Blake (Austin College), “‘Semyrame the secounde’: Pantsuits, Power, and the 2016 Presidential Election
- Matthew Clancy (Birkbeck, University of London), “Recreating Lost Material Cultures: the Tomb of Arthur at Glastonbury Abbey”
- Emilie Cox (Indiana University, Bloomington), “Medieval and Modern ‘Cucks’: Parsing the Misogyny of Chaucer’s Fabliaux and Alt-Right Politics”
- Eugene Lyman (Independent Scholar), “An Exploration of Letterforms in Eight MSS of The Knight's Tale”
- Hideshi Ohno (Hiroshima University), “Variation among Manuscripts and Editions of The Canterbury Tales: With Special Reference to the Use of Personal and Impersonal Constructions”
- McKenzie Peck (Texas Tech University), “The Tail of the Manuscript: The Editorial Transformation of the Bob in Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas”
- Emerson Richards (Indiana University, Bloomington), “New Research on John Rylands Research Institute MS Latin 19 (an Illustrated Apocalypse)”
- Sarah Wilma Watson (University of Pennsylvania), “‘Mon seul desir’: French Mottos in Fifteenth-Century England”
- Susan Yager (Iowa State University), “DIY Digital Humanities: Tools for Examining Chaucer’s Language”