2018 Congress

NCS 2018 Toronto Call for Papers

Dear Members,

We are happy to announce the Call for Papers for the next meeting of the New Chaucer Society. The meeting will be held July 10th–15th, 2018 at the University of Toronto. An exciting program is in the works, and we hope that you will find much in the Call for Papers that interests you. Before looking at the session descriptions, please take a minute to read the Guidelines for Submission and the description of Session Types.

As we mentioned in the call for session proposals, in the interest of leaving room for a wide range of topics, we have this year limited the number of threads to six: Chaucer Abroad, Forming Knowledge, History Now, Language Contacts, Making the Text, and Middle English Literature at Scale. Following the description of the Research Expo, the sessions within threads are listed first, after which are the many independent sessions. We have also, as described below, offered two new session types—lightning talks and position papers—to clarify the different forms and aims of sessions with shorter papers (previously called roundtables).

Big thanks for getting us this far toward Toronto 2018 are owed to the members of the Program Committee: Louise D’Arcens, Jonathan Hsy, Elliot Kendall, and Sebastian Sobecki, with Ruth Evans, Ardis Butterfield, and Alex Gillespie ex officio; to the thread organizers; to Jessica Rezunyk for all things technical; and of course to all the session organizers.

We look forward to receiving your abstracts!

Best wishes,

Bobby Meyer-Lee and Claire Waters
Co-Chairs, NCS 2018 Program Committee

 

 

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION

You may submit to only one session, including the Research Expo (a change in policy that the Program Committee has implemented at the recommendation of past NCS organizers). If sessions receive more abstracts that merit a place on the program than they can use, the Program Committee will create new sessions as needed—and so your abstract will not be rejected simply because of your choice of session.

A contribution to the conference in a service capacity—as, for example, a workshop leader, participant in a panel on professional issues, or session chair—does not preclude your participation elsewhere as a presenter of your own research or as a respondent.

The deadline for submissions has now passed. Please do not email abstracts to the session organizers; their addresses have been provided should you have a question regarding the session. Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.

Abstracts are due April 24, 2017.

You need not be an NCS member to submit an abstract, but you must be one before presenting at the conference. Waivers of the membership requirement may be granted for scholars who work in disciplines other than medieval language and literature.

 

SESSION TYPES

NCS 2018 features some changes in session types and terminology. While paper panels and seminars will retain the form that they’ve had in recent years, in response to feedback from the membership the Program Committee has decided to divide the “roundtable” format into two different formats. One features short presentations that address a shared topic; we’re calling these “lightning talks.” The other asks speakers to take positions on a significant, specific question in the field and aims to generate debate; these will be “position papers.” We hope that the change will make the aims of each kind of format clearer. In addition, to reflect more accurately the role of the poster session, we have redesignated it the “Research Expo.”

Paper Panels: A paper panel showcases scholarly work in the form of extended presentations of 20 minutes each. A paper panel will include no more than 3 presenters total (either 3 papers or 2 papers and a respondent) and will allow for at least 30 minutes of open discussion.

Lightning Talks: The goal of lightning talks is to present an array of new work and focus discussion on a shared topic. These sessions will feature up to 6 speakers and presentations of 5–7 minutes, to allow for at least 45 minutes of open discussion.

Position Papers: These sessions, with up to 5 speakers, address a shared question and are specifically intended to foster debate and to consider the state of the field. Papers will be 7–8 minutes to ensure time for discussion.

Seminars: The goal of a seminar is to generate extended conversation about a topic before, during, and after the NCS meeting. Participants will circulate and discuss materials in advance of the seminar. Seminars will include no more than 7 presenters and allow for at least one hour of open discussion.

 

RESEARCH EXPO

Organizers: Matthew Fisher, fisher@humnet.ucla.edu; Rebecca McNamara, rebecca.fields.mcnamara@gmail.com

Those whose research or teaching lends itself to a visual format, or who are interested in trying alternative modes of scholarly or pedagogical communication, are encouraged to submit an abstract for a poster presentation. During the conference, all posters will be displayed in a single time slot in a central location, with presenters in attendance to discuss their work and answer questions.

Posters can be an effective medium for articulating the key focus or outcomes of your work, or the processes of research itself; they can be used to showcase a particular artifact or case study and findings. The 2016 NCS Conference in London saw over 20 posters presented on a rich range of topics from the work of specific scribes and the idiosyncrasies of particular manuscripts, to poetics and aesthetics, to neurology and augmented reality. We hope to continue the tradition of including work by a diverse group of teachers and scholars both junior and senior on topics conventional and adventurous, using similarly varied approaches. We are particularly interested in submissions from those who want to present their research findings around a central item of focus without privileging one particular path through their data.

Submissions to the Research Expo should include a title and the proposed content and format for the presentation: what you plan to present on your poster, how it will be presented, and what is gained in presenting your work in this way. Please note that this year there will be provision for posters to be printed at the venue in Toronto, with up to a 50% subsidy from NCS, easing concerns about cost and logistics.

Useful general information on research posters and their formats has been published by New York University, Pennsylvania State University, Colorado State University, Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, and the American Historical Association.

 

THREAD 1: CHAUCER ABROAD
Organizers: Louise D'Arcens, louise.darcens@mq.edu.au; Jonathan Hsy, jhsy@gwu.edu

1. Border-Crossings: Chaucer’s Italy
Organizer: Kathryn McKinley, kmckinle@umbc.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This session will focus on geographical, conceptual, political, and aesthetic “border-crossings” which Chaucer carried out on diplomatic trips to Italy (1372–78) and upon his return. Papers might address his acts of diplomacy on behalf of Edward III and Richard II; late medieval English constructions of and/or commerce with “Ytaille;” the trecento reception of English diplomats and visitors; learning/speaking Italian in late medieval London; or Italian merchant reading communities and copyists, among other topics. They could also address, as intellectual and aesthetic border-crossings, Chaucer’s “translations” of Boccaccio’s writings, poetics, and theories of the vernacular as a means of negotiating with/contesting Dante.

2. Chaucer Abroad: Who Owns Chaucer Now?
Organizers: Louise D'Arcens, louise.darcens@mq.edu.au; Jonathan Hsy, jhsy@gwu.edu
Format: Position Papers

This session is a paired inquiry with session 35 in Thread 5: “Loving and Hating Chaucer in the 21st Century”
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?

3. Chaucer and Muslim Readers
Organizer: Candace Barrington, BarringtonC@ccsu.edu
Format: Seminar

This seminar brings together faculty and teachers interested in sharing and learning enhanced resources for students with backgrounds in Islam and Middle Eastern languages. Possible topics include three overlapping concerns. First, language: what are the consequences of students reading in Middle English, present-day English, and/or non-Anglophone translations? Second, resources: what is the quality of secondary resources and availability of textbooks? Third, transcultural awareness: what medieval English values, institutions, and practices are alien to Muslim and Middle Eastern students? Pedagogical practices explored in this seminar will be applicable to any twenty-first century classroom.

4. Chaucer on Islam and the East
Organizers: David Hadbawnik, dhadbawnik@gmail.com; Susie Nakley, snakley@sjcny.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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.

5. Marginal Chaucer: Chaucer Studies in Non-English Academia
Organizer: Eva von Contzen, eva.voncontzen@anglistik.uni-freiburg.de
Format: Lightning Talks

Chaucer Studies is fundamentally an English endeavor, dominated by departments and scholars from and in English-speaking countries. Yet there is a large group of medievalists who are based abroad, where inevitably medieval English studies is a marginal field. These scholars are often influenced by different academic traditions and face the challenge of participating in the general discussions in the field while engaging with the debates that are prevalent in their own countries. This session brings together speakers who present their experiences of being “expats” of Chaucer Studies. It aims at scrutinizing how they can become ambassadors for trends and approaches that otherwise remain local and exclusive. Topics may include, but are not limited to, potential starting points for fruitful engagement with non-English academic traditions and debates, and how Chaucer Studies can help foster international exchange and diminish the marginalization of medieval English studies abroad.

6. Metrolingualism
Organizer: Karla Mallette, alrak@umich.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This session is offered in cooperation with Thread 4, Language Contacts.
What happens to language in cities? Mindful of, but looking beyond, Chaucer’s multilingual London, this session encourages submissions that consider cities within and outside Chaucer’s ambit as sites of linguistic plurality and layering. How are languages networked in the pre-modern world—and in urban space in particular? How do languages signal the existence of other languages beyond themselves? Are individual languages clearly distinguished and differentiated from each other, or are the boundaries between them porous and labile? Are languages self-aware? Papers might explore specialized professional languages, linguistic mash-ups and calques, multi-lingual actors and the perils (or pleasures) of monolingualism, or the ways that language is deployed to travel in particular urban environments in late-medieval cultures.

7. Reassessing Boundaries: Chaucer and Medieval European Literatures
Organizer: Shazia Jagot, jagot@sdu.dk
Format: Paper Panel

From Mongol Sarai and Muslim Syria to Castilian kings, Persian polymaths, and crusading arenas that stretch from the Baltic to North Africa, Chaucer’s literary imagination spans geographies and cultures that are often considered to lie beyond the boundaries of “Europe.” This panel seeks to explore and interrogate the notion of “Europe” in relation to such perceived peripheral places in the age of Chaucer from a historical cross-cultural perspective: how are boundaries conceived, contested and/or imagined in relation to intellectual, scientific, cultural and literary exchanges? How can we compare/connect places, ideas and texts? What makes something “European?” Papers may address any aspect of such cross-cultural contact, particularly in light of new critical approaches to the concept of Medieval European Literatures, such as those formulated by David Wallace and outlined in a recent issue of Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures.

8. The Woman Question: Chaucer in his European Context
Organizers: Betsy McCormick, BMcCormick@MtSAC.edu; Lynn Shutters, lynn.shutters@colostate.edu
Format: Seminar

This “working research seminar” will consider Chaucer’s relationship to late medieval European intellectual and literary traditions of women, including story collections of classical women; the Querelles des Femmes; conduct literature; and the Griselda story, among others. We invite papers that reexamine Chaucer’s engagement with these various European traditions. Authors often gain praise for how they distinguish themselves from tradition; thus Chaucer was once imagined as moving through and beyond French and Italian phases to emerge as a great English poet. How might we now benefit from examining similarities rather than differences between Chaucer and continental traditions, particularly those that theorize and represent women? For more on the “working research seminar” model, see: http://www.shakespeareassociation.org/seminars-and-workshops/guidelines/.

 

THREAD 2: FORMING KNOWLEDGE
Organizers: Michelle Karnes, michellekarnes@nd.edu; Julie Orlemanski, julieorlemanski@uchicago.edu

9. Carnal Knowledge
Organizers: Joe Stadolnik, jstadolnik@gmail.com; Carissa M. Harris, carissa.harris@temple.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

If, as Carolyn Dinshaw has argued, the body is “a field on which issues of representation and interpretation are literally and metaphorically played out,” how might we account for acts of carnal exploration and violation as forays into such a hermeneutic field? This session invites lightning talks on diverse modes of carnal apprehension in the later Middle Ages—from Thomas’s doubt to surgeons’ probing, from physiognomic treatises to lyrics about sexual violence, in which female speakers present their bodily trauma as a privileged form of knowledge about class and gender inequalities. In these and other texts, how is knowledge of the body newly grasped through (for instance) intimate observation, suffering, or intrusion? How are these processes implicated in the knowledge-work of texts and textual genres? How are medieval thinkers’ bodies implicated in the knowledge they produce?

10. Chaucer “And”: Methods of Interdisciplinarity
Organizer: Michelle Karnes, michellekarnes@nd.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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?

11. Chaucer’s “Cavillaciouns” and the Sophistries of Knowledge
Organizer: Neil Cartlidge, cartlidgeneil@me.com
Format: Paper Panel

The Middle English Dictionary defines cavillacioun as “the practice of making trivial or insincere objections or presenting captious, evasive or spurious arguments; cavilling, quibbling, sophistry, fraud, or an instance of it.” This session invites consideration of specific instances of cavilling, quibbling, sophistry, or intellectual fraud in in Chaucer’s works, and/or of the ways in which such moments reflect fourteenth-century attitudes to the establishment of knowledge and the defining of truth in general. To what purpose(s), for example, does Chaucer depict literalistic or legalistic attitudes to contracts or codes? And to what extent does Chaucer’s depiction of cavillacioun(s) reflect real unease about over-cleverness and demonstrative intellectualism in general?

12. Fictionality
Organizer: Mary Raschko, raschkml@whitman.edu
Format: Paper Panel

This panel invites reflection on the instructive role of feigned, imaginative, or counterfactual narratives in the later Middle Ages. While we often attribute an ethical, action-oriented function to medieval storytelling, this panel seeks to understand the philosophical dimensions of fiction, its role in truth-telling and intellectual inquiry. How, presenters might ask, do fictional stories construct or organize knowledge? What types of knowledge (empathic, mystical, natural, etc.) does fiction especially generate? If Middle English literature should both entertain and instruct, how might humor, fantasy, or suspense generate particular ways of knowing? Likewise, how could the truth-telling or knowledge-construction within fiction be a source of delight?

13. Household Sciences and the Arts of Conduct
Organizers: Rory Critten, rory.critten@ens.unibe.ch; Arthur Russell, ajr171@case.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This session invites novel approaches to the arts of conduct in late medieval England. Our aim is to reconsider the tradition of texts on table manners, household ethics, and other forms of etiquette, while at the same time addressing materials not typically grouped under the “conduct” rubric but which likewise arbitrate everyday praxis. Such texts include agricultural and gardening treatises, medical and scientific manuals, and catalogs and calendars. Lightning talks might take up questions like the following: How do codes of conduct embody and transmit knowledge? How does form affect reception? Can resistant readings to conduct literature be envisaged? How do conduct texts interface with other types of texts, in what manuscript contexts? How might medieval codifications of everyday praxis speak to present-day conversations about the policing of bodies, behaviors, and ideas? What processes of sexual, racial, gender, and class identity-construction do we inherit from the Middle Ages?

14. Medieval Latour
Organizers: Michelle Karnes, michellekarnes@nd.edu; Julie Orlemanski, julieorlemanski@uchicago.edu
Format: Seminar

Bruno Latour’s work has become prominent within scholarship on the Middle Ages, figuring in analyses of the present’s relation to the past, posthumanism, the history of science, ecocriticism, materiality, and semiotics. We ask prospective panelists to highlight a topic within Latour's corpus that has particular value for medieval studies and to propose a brief selection (about 15 pages) that the audience and fellow panelists might read in advance of the panel to aid discussion. Once selected, panelists will work together to decide on a final list of topics and readings. At the beginning of the seminar, panelists will introduce the readings in order to foment and focus conversation. As with all seminars, an hour will be left for discussion with the audience. We hope that the session will be engaging for those with little knowledge of Latour's work as well as those familiar with it. 

15. Medieval Technocultures
Organizers: Jenna Mead, jenna.mead@uwa.edu.au; Allan Mitchell, amitch@uvic.ca
Format: Paper Panel

Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe finds itself in the midst of a “techno turn” in which functional interfaces, instruments, and techno-scientific ways of knowing are gaining new prominence. Medieval technocultures will explore animating features of early devices, technics, or analytics. We invite presenters to take up such topics as physical media, visual diagrams, haptic feedback, literacy/numeracy, and their effects in and for literary history. We welcome those who stretch or bend the format to incorporate demos, models, ficto-criticism, interviews, the biography of an object, or intellectual geography. Speakers will, broadly speaking, address medieval techno-sciences that tend to propagate object-dependent knowledges. How is information located in an instrument, system, or praxis? Where is science situated?

16. Tried, True, and Innovative Approaches to Research
Organizer: John Hoarty, john.hoarty@ignatius.org
Format: Lightning Talks

This session explores the ways in which we teach research methods, both fundamental and advanced, and the impact of our pedagogical approaches on our understanding of medieval studies. Some possible topics: what distinct pedagogical challenges and possibilities arise in teaching medieval literature for instructors of graduate, undergraduate, and secondary school students? How do relationships between instructor and student as well as between researcher and content lead to the formation of knowledge? What is the role and responsibility of the researcher in medieval studies, and do our roles differ from those of researchers in other disciplines? What research topics engender the most inquiry, and what methods best serve students as they form their own understanding of knowledge? How do instructors navigate the oft-hazardous yet potentially rewarding pursuit of content available in digital formats? How do instructors negotiate between traditional and innovative research methods?

17. The Value of Truth
Organizer: Julie Orlemanski, julieorlemanski@uchicago.edu
Format: Position Papers

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 3: HISTORY NOW
Organizers: Elliot Kendall, E.R.Kendall@exeter.ac.uk; Sebastian Sobecki, s.i.sobecki@rug.nl

18. Balancing Acts: Pedagogical Approaches to Interdisciplinary Humanities Coursework
Organizer: Kara Crawford, crawfordk@bishops.com
Format: Lightning Talks

Interdisciplinary courses and curricular programs are experiencing a resurgence, but the challenges of developing interdisciplinary coursework only begin with logistics, and collaboration between multiple disciplines can create hierarchies. In encouraging intentional strategies for pedagogical collaboration, this session seeks discussion about what approaches best guide our ways of thinking about contemporary humanities study. When we emphasize historical context, to what extent do we frame the discussion of a medieval text as a cultural artifact? How might we structure approaches that balance awareness of a distant context with an immediate experience of literary art? Where does manuscript studies fit in this mix? What guiding topics and themes most effectively engage multiple disciplines? How do our approaches to interdisciplinary coursework shape how we define history and how we understand the meaning and role of literature in human experience?

19. Chaucer and Church History
Organizers: James Simpson, jsimpson@fas.harvard.edu; Zachary E. Stone, zes9bx@virginia.edu
Format: Paper Panel

This panel explores Chaucer’s relationship to church history. How, we ask, did the ecclesiological upheavals of Chaucer’s era mark his conception of the church as a historical entity? Or, from a different point of view, how might the history of the English Church in the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries have determined the formation of English literary history grounded in Chaucer’s poetry? In what ways might church history be the driver of both periodization and literary history?

20. Do We Need Periodization?
Organizer: Katherine C. Little, katherine.c.little@colorado.edu
Format: Position Papers

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?

21. Figuring the Marginal in Late Medieval Society and Its Texts
Organizer: Roger Nicholson, r.nicholson@auckland.ac.nz
Format: Paper Panel

Excluded from good society, marginal figures tend to be registered in legal records, an “archive of repression” (Geremek). Whatever their excluded group, their “abjected alterity” (Butler) enforces established social order even as they may constitute a zone of transgressive pleasure for good society, offering the opportunity of living dangerously (Hanawalt).

Do historical and literary studies give us reconcilable accounts of the marginalized? Apt for historical understanding of the marginalized is a mode close to fiction, the microhistory, which couples social structures with a focus on lives in the everyday (as explored in a recent issue of JMEMS, for example). But what are the consequences of repressive archive and transgressive lure for understanding medieval fiction? Are particular genres (outlaw story, tales of trickery) peculiarly responsive to marginal lives, being "rooted in the real” (like microhistory) even when they engage in a play of conventions? Do novel subjectivities arise in marginalized, “in-between spaces” that “initiate new signs of identity” (Bhabha)?

22. Gendered History, Historicized Gender
Organizer: Elizabeth Robertson, elizabeth.robertson@glasgow.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

When the New Historicism was near its apogee, there was some controversy regarding its relation to feminism. As Wai-Chee Dimock wrote in American Literature in 1991, “If the feminist chronicling of women's oppression and celebration of women's difference have appeared misguided to many New Historicists, the New Historicist universalization of power and blurring of genders have struck many feminists as nothing short of reactionary.” As we reconsider the directions of historical analysis, it is appropriate to revisit questions of gender and history. This session seeks papers that offer innovative historicized analyses of gender, or that consider whether historically oriented critical approaches subsequent to New Historicism have addressed the quandary that Dimock identified.

23. Let Us Talk Then, You and I: The Future with History
Organizers: Elliot Kendall, E.R.Kendall@exeter.ac.uk; Clementine Oliver, coliver@csun.edu; Sebastian Sobecki, s.i.sobecki@rug.nl
Format: Position Papers

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?

24. No Keystone to Canterbury: Transhistorical Readings of the Sacred, Sovereign, and Secular
Organizer: Robert Rouse, robert.rouse@ubc.ca
Format: Lightning Talks

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales stages the competing claims of the sacred and secular in a manner prescient of our contemporary debates over land sovereignty, environmental devastation, and the value of place. What has Chaucerian writing to offer our environmental debates today, and—in the spirit of temporal reciprocity—what might an environmentally aware readership bring to an understanding of the late medieval contexts of Chaucer’s own work? This session will bring together environmental activism with the Book of Nature, indigenous epistemologies with Gene(sis)idal pre-modern European understandings of the relationship between homo and natura, and Chaucerian close reading with ecocritical theoretical framing.

25. The Object In/Of History
Organizers: Kara L. McShane, klmcshane@gmail.com; Jeffery G. Stoyanoff, jstoyanoff@shc.edu
Format: Paper Panel

History traditionally privileges the narrative of anthropocentric society, and thus in any discussion of literature and history we usually find ourselves engaging the elements of literature that also privilege that narrative. Contemporary literary theory, however, has made radical changes to the assumption of anthropocentrism as the default perspective in medieval literature. In particular, Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) have led medievalists to fundamentally revise our understanding of the medieval world. These theories ask us to look at associations between objects and, perhaps most importantly, to realize that humans need not be part of the action, the relationship, or the world at all. This panel, then, seeks submissions that explore these moments in literature where we see the objects in/of history.

 

THREAD 4: LANGUAGE CONTACTS
Organizers: Ardis Butterfield, ardis.butterfield@yale.edu; Claire Waters, cmwaters@ucdavis.edu

26. Anglo-Latin
Organizer: Andrew Kraebel, akraebel@trinity.edu
Format: Paper Panel

As recent interventions by Joseph Farrell, Andrew Galloway, and Nicholas Watson (among others) have helped to make clear, the status of Latin in the later Middle Ages was far more vexed than earlier historiographies allow. Yet, if we can no longer simply consider the relationship between Latin and the vernacular in terms of familiar binaries (of gender, power, culture, etc.), how should we formulate a more rigorously historicized (or otherwise theorized) account of Latin in late-medieval England? This panel seeks papers that, in addressing this question, focus on specific Anglo-Latin authors (e.g., Grosseteste, Rolle, Gower), on Latinate literary trends and discourses (e.g., neoclassicism, scholastic exegesis, liturgical compositions), on works that mix Latin and the vernaculars, or on the place of Latin texts in specific plurilingual manuscripts. Relatedly, papers are also encouraged on the Latinity of Middle English studies in the last century (or more).

27. Aureation
Organizer: Nicholas Watson, nwatson@fas.harvard.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Fifteenth-century English writers admired a heavily Latinate style of poetry and prose that one of them (John Metham) called “half-chongyd Latyn.” Where did this style come from, where did it go, why was it valued, and what does it tell us about literary form and practice in the last medieval century? This session invites papers on the linguistic structure and language politics of aureate poetry, drama, macaronic preaching, and religious, historical, or utilitarian prose in fifteenth-century England and on comparable linguistic and stylistic phenomena in other languages, centuries and places.

28. Implications of French-English Bilingualism
Organizer: Ardis Butterfield, ardis.butterfield@yale.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Recent work in cultural history and sociolinguistics suggests that the extent of Francophonie in England before 1400 may have been substantially underestimated. This session is designed to encourage consideration of the cultural and social implications of French-English bilingualism in the age of Chaucer, and reconsideration of textual evidence that may have been interpreted in the past to fit the seductive narrative of French’s decline as an English vernacular. Contributors may also wish to discuss the intellectual implications of bridging the disciplinary gaps between English Studies and French Studies, or indeed those between literary and linguistic scholarship.

29. Late Fifteenth-Century Anglo-French
Organizers: R. D. Perry, rdperry@berkeley.edu; and Spencer Strub, spencer.strub@berkeley.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This panel invites lightning talks on late fifteenth-century Anglo-French literary relations. Heretofore, critics have focused on cross-Channel exchange in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. This panel will extend the Anglo-French tradition further into the fifteenth century, to ask how the final years of the Hundred Years War influenced literary production, and to consider the status of French in England during the Wars of the Roses and the ascension of the Tudors. How does the still-understudied literature of the late fifteenth century carry on Anglo-French literary relations? Where do new forms and new avenues of influence emerge? For the purposes of this panel, the “late fifteenth century” stretches from Lydgate’s collaboration with Benedict Burgh in the 1440s to the writings of Skelton and the Scottish makars.

30. Language Contacts in Manuscript
Organizer: Claire M. Waters, cmwaters@ucdavis.edu
Format: Paper Panel

While the former standard narratives (by Suggett, R.M. Wilson, Berndt, Kibbee and others) of the literary and social roles played by multilingualism in the medieval period have been extensively revised, less attention has been paid to the nature and range of multi- or plurilingual manuscripts across the period, well beyond the well-known case of Piers Plowman. This session calls for work on the production and reception of codices in which languages are juxtaposed, interleaved or otherwise arranged, and asks what kinds of literary, linguistic, theological, social, or political implications there might be in the choice and disposition of languages across genres. Papers might address glossing, marginalia of all kinds, and the use of language in images, as well as the arrangements throughout a booklet or larger section of a manuscript of works in more than one language.

31. The Linguistic Past in Late Medieval England
Organizer: Thomas Hinton, T.G.Hinton@exeter.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

This session will consider how the textual material of the past was used by late medieval authors and audiences. What cultural work was implicit in the choice of language, and what linguistic features were considered salient or significant? How did authors understand and respond to the process of language change? To what extent was linguistic diachrony a concern in pedagogical contexts? How accurate or useful is the model which contrasts Latin immutability with vernacular instability? To what extent could the vernacular past aspire to the authority of venerable Latin textual traditions?

32. “The Marches”: The Linguistic Positioning of Border Literature
Organizer: Helen Cushman, helencushman@fas.harvard.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Recent work on the multilingual border societies of medieval Britain has shown that frontier regions or “Marches” were often productive sites of encounter, language contact, and cultural exchange, particularly in the Marches of Wales and Scotland during England’s efforts to conquer those countries in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This session weighs the utility of using “the March” as a governing principle for analyzing literature. It considers the tension between viewing a march as a site of cultural transmission and contact (i.e. a line to be crossed) versus a discrete zone in its own right. Participants might address language contact, cultural contact, or the effects of multilingualism in a border context, as well as the extent to which border regions can/should be viewed in relation to the cultural mainstream.

33. Translating the Nonhuman
Organizers: Haylie Swenson, haylie@gwmail.gwu.edu; and Liam Lewis, L.G.Lewis@warwick.ac.uk
Format: 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.

34. What Happened to Old English After the Tremulous Hand?
Organizers: Nicholas Watson, nwatson@fas.harvard.edu; and Elaine Treharne, treharne@stanford.edu
Format: Position Papers

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. 

Note: Session 6, "Metrolingualism," in the Chaucer Abroad thread, is offered in coordination with Language Contacts.

 

THREAD 5: MAKING THE TEXT
Organizers: Thomas Goodmann, tgoodmann@miami.edu; Elizabeth Scala, scala@austin.utexas.edu

35. Loving and Hating Chaucer in the Twenty-First Century
Organizer: Patricia Clare Ingham, pingham@indiana.edu
Format: Position Papers

This session is a paired inquiry with session 2 in Thread 1: "Chaucer Abroad: Who Owns Chaucer Now?”
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.

36. In the Eye of the Beholder?: Perfecting and Completing Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Books
Organizer: Martha Driver, mdriver@pace.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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.

37. Is There a Text for This Class?  Editing Chaucer Now
Organizer: Elizabeth Scala, scala@austin.utexas.edu
Format: Position Papers

This session seeks position papers on current editorial efforts to produce texts of Chaucer for the classroom and for critical reference, and it invites participants to think about why the texts of Chaucer’s writings do not attract anything like the vibrant variety of editorial and publishing support given to those of Shakespeare.

38. Manuscript and the Print Devolution
Organizer: Zachary Hines, zhines@utexas.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Recent scholarship on late-medieval manuscript production has revealed a complex and vibrant network of scribes, illuminators, and workshops, booksellers and readers—a culture that persists after the arrival of Caxton’s press to England in 1476. This session explores the role of the manuscript in the increasingly mechanized literary world of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It theorizes the notion of a “print devolution,” a paradoxical increase in the authority, desirability, and production of manuscript books after the advent of print. Resisting accounts that simply chart the demise of the manuscript, this session explores the complexities and complications of a historical moment where these purportedly disparate forms coexisted.

39. Mapping London Textual Production
Organizer: Lawrence Warner, lawrence.warner@kcl.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

The institutions of medieval London and its surrounds—the Guildhall, the Privy Seal, the Livery Companies, the Priory of St. Mary Overie, etc.—have played increasingly important roles in recent accounts of the careers of Chaucer, Gower, Langland, Hoccleve, and other authors, and of the transmission of their works. This panel invites papers reconsidering the role of London's institutions in our assessment of Middle English literature. Suggested topics might include: archival discoveries, reassessments of current work on such topics, the relationship between "literary" and governmental/legal modes of textual production, and what difference all this makes to Middle English studies.

40. Scribes and the Grammar of Medieval Pages
Organizers: Heather Blatt, hblatt@fiu.edu; Sarah Noonan, sarahloleet@gmail.com; Daniel Wakelin, daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk
Format: Seminar

Nearly forty years ago, Doyle and Parkes observed that a work’s “layout and decoration function like punctuation” since they guide the reader’s interaction with the text. This recognition continues to encourage the reevaluation of scribal acts, as such features are often altered—or duplicated by design—with each recopying. This seminar explores how we might define the grammatical function of rubrication, script hierarchies, paraph marks, initials, etc., either within a single manuscript or across a range of manuscripts. Did communities develop their own scribal “grammars” of layout and/or decoration? Did they share these communicative systems through copying, or was each scribal utterance constitutive of a new idiolectical grammar? How might the fields of semiotics and linguistics, or others, help explain how scribes “made” the texts they copied out, and/or to theorize the scribal act more broadly?

41. Texting in Class: What Do You Use? What Do You Want? What Do We Need?
Organizer: Thomas Goodmann, tgoodmann@miami.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This session seeks focused presentations on texts for teaching and citing Middle English sources and the other contemporary literatures of later medieval England, including Chaucer, of course. Is the demise of the Riverside indicative of deep challenges to the field, or merely a pedagogical inconvenience—and so for Middle English anthologies, and Middle English courses, more broadly? Heretical positions encouraged: is it time to address Chaucer and Middle English texts for the twenty-first century, including respelled texts and translations? Provocations addressing changes, choices, and challenges are welcome: what will be the teaching texts and/or the editions of reference in 2050?

42. Transcription Now
Organizer: Daniel Wakelin, daniel.wakelin@ell.ox.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

Medieval literary study relies on transcription, yet we seldom reflect on or esteem it. It has been done by unacknowledged Victorian women, by untenured postdocs on professors’ grants, or by workers in the developing world building corpora of big data. Is it menial drudgery or an intellectual achievement? Is the process itself enlightening, or just a means to an end? Do digital methods offer more accuracy? Or does transcribing depend on interpretation for solving textual cruces, recognizing form, choosing the limits of the text? Why reproduce some letterforms but not others? Are abbreviations meaningful or expendable—expandable? And transcription seems like a quest for sameness, but it implies transferral, transition, difference. Need it always entail “accuracy”—and accuracy in what? Might “mistranscription,” like “mistranslation,” be rewarding too?

43. Uncritical Editions
Organizer: Megan Cook, mlcook@colby.edu
Format: Paper Panel

This panel will explore an alternative history of Middle English in print by foregrounding texts that fail to conform to critical norms. Participants might consider editions of Chaucer and other Middle English writers produced before the advent of modern textual theory; work that employs alternative or outdated editorial practices and methods; or adaptations, abridgments, and teaching editions that alter the received text without explicit textual rationale. What role does this oft-elided editorial work play in making the Middle English texts that we read, edit, and interpret today? What (if any) is the critical significance of uncritical editions?

 

THREAD 6: MIDDLE ENGLISH LITERATURE AT SCALE
Organizer: Catherine Sanok, sanok@umich.edu

44. Allegorical Scale
Organizers: Katharine Breen, khbreen@northwestern.edu; Carolynn Van Dyke, vandykec@lafayette.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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?

45. Cosmic Scale
Organizer: Kara Gaston, kara.gaston@utoronto.ca
Format: Paper Panel

Astronomy mediates between the very large and the very small. Troilus laughs at “this litel spot of erthe,” as seen from the heavens. But an astrolabe places the celestial sphere in the palm of one’s hand. Astronomical tools such as the Alphonsine Tables could calculate up to 80,000 years’ worth of celestial movements, but the Clerk of Orleans uses them to find the exact moment that Brittany’s black rocks are likely to be hidden. This panel welcomes papers that use astronomy to think about scale. How can astronomy help us understand literature that mediates or moves between vastly different scales? Does astronomy supply medieval poets with a language for thinking about scale? If it is possible to read on a cosmic scale, can we also see the stars on a literary scale? 

46. Imagined Pasts and Possible Futures
Organizer: Jordan Zweck, jlzweck@wisc.edu
Format: Paper Panel

This session invites papers exploring the long temporal scale of the medieval literary imagination, and especially the ways in which medieval cultures imagined their own pasts. Papers might consider a work featuring time travel or a long internal temporal scale, such as legends of the Seven Sleepers, or texts that revisit England’s pre-Conquest past (such as St. Erkenwald or perhaps Athelston). In examining how medieval texts memorialize the past and imagine the future, we might uncover how medieval peoples conceived of time, memory, the archive, and periods.

47. Inhabiting Nonhuman Times
Organizer: Susan Crane, susan.crane@columbia.edu
Format: Seminar

In medieval thought, linear human lifetimes unfolding from birth to death were also marked by nonhuman times, such as the cyclical seasons, the apparently timeless continuity of species and ecosystems, the chaotic turns of Fortune’s wheel. These intersecting times offer an ecosystemic challenge to thinking time, decentering the human in favor of a broader view of creaturely life. For example, what is the temporality of a saint’s restoration of prelapsarian peace among the creatures? In Piers Plowman, why do agricultural and social processes so persistently intersect?  In Chaucer's Knight's Tale, do the ships Mars burns, the towers Saturn pulls down, and the inspirited grove destroyed for Arcite’s pyre imagine the material world to be within the purview of Fortune and Providence? Why does the Gawain poet choose to narrate Sir Gawain's last year of life as a sequence of four seasons?

48. Lyric Scale
Organizer: Daniel Birkholz, birkholz@austin.utexas.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Literary geography has taken hold as a subfield methodology, so far as narrative goes. To inquire into “lyric scale,” however, is to invite paradox, as lyric is slight and elusive; except when it is ponderous and institutional; or simultaneously intimate and universalist; in-the-moment and eschatological; doctrinal and playful. The signature brevity of the form (if it is a form) has made lyric texts prime targets for anthology compilation. Yet individual exemplars prove inclined and able to escape from such programs of interpretive cooptation. Lyricality itself, scholars agree, is clearly a post-medieval invention. So what balances the scales enough to justify treatment? All textual locations, critical orientations, and manifestations of lyric scale welcome.

49. Scale Jumping
Organizer: Matthew Boyd Goldie, mgoldie@rider.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Scale jumping in geography is when a social or other phenomenon jumps from a small sphere of influence to a much larger one or vice versa. The power of scale jumping is that small events can affect large ones, or a small or large phenomenon is exposed as limited because of its scale. The simple juxtaposition of things of vastly different sizes also implies a distinct kind of metonymy or transumptio that is similar to scale jumping. Papers are sought that examine the nature and effects of scale jumping in scientific, literary, historical, and artistic works.

50. Scales of Performance
Organizer: Emma Lipton, liptone@missouri.edu
Format: Paper Panel

This session invites considerations of the role of practices, movements and bodies in the construction of spatial and temporal scale. Building on David Harvey’s argument that concepts of space are simultaneously material and imagined and that they are “necessarily created through material practices and processes,” this panel seeks to explore simultaneities, disjunctions and fluidities of scale in performance. For example, the processional staging of late medieval civic religious drama emphasizes the continual interaction between the imaginary fictional spaces of the pageants on one hand and the material spaces of the pageant wagons and the city streets on the other, while these fleeting moments of dramatic performance signal and create sacred and civic history. Papers on all aspects of performance, scale, and Middle English literature are welcome.

51. What Time Is It?: Non-normative Temporalities
Organizer: Miriamne Ara Krummel, mkrummel1@udayton.edu
Format: Position Papers

Peter Travis concluded a 1997 essay with the suggestively ironic remark, “one of these days we may indeed arrive at an adequate understanding of time.” While in 2017 we still may not be faced with “an adequate understanding of time” given time’s ultimately elusive nature, we have done much over the past twenty years to theorize temporality. We acknowledge that visions of time are relative and dependent upon the lens of the viewer, who may be outside the reigning heteronormative temporality. Queer studies and queer temporality have ultimately introduced consideration of an array of Other voices whose position in and out of standard time is complicated by their racial, religious, able-bodied, gendered/sexed, and socio-economic différance. This session invites papers that take a position on how temporal Others evoke non-normative ways of seeing that may reshape our understanding of temporal scale(s).

 

INDEPENDENT SESSIONS

52. Affect Matters: Historicizing Feeling in the Age of Chaucer
Organizers: Glenn Burger, gburger@gc.cuny.edu; Holly A. Crocker, hcrocker@mailbox.sc.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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?

53. The Ars Moriendi and Practices of Care
Organizers: Karl Steel, KSteel@brooklyn.cuny.edu; Ashbv Kinch, ashkinch@gmail.com
Format: Lightning Talks

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.

54. Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16
Organizer: Simon Meecham-Jones, stmj2@cam.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16 is one of the most influential witnesses of Chaucer’s earlier poetry, and contains as well a sequence of poems possibly by Charles d’Orléans, or possibly (in part) written in imitation of Charles’s work by contemporaries, perhaps including the Duke of Suffolk. This session invites papers that consider the light Fairfax 16 sheds on such matters as the circulation and reception of the Book of the Duchess and the House of Fame in the fifteenth century, the role of noble and gentry patronage (in particular that of the Stanley family) in the circulation of Chaucerian manuscripts, and the importance of Charles in the development of poetry at this time or, more broadly, the relationship of the English and French poetic traditions at a time when the shift away from Insular French for administrative purposes was becoming firmly established.

55. Chaucer and Rape: New Directions
Organizer: Carissa M. Harris, carissa.harris@temple.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

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.

56. Chaucer and Transgender Studies
Organizer: Ruth Evans, revans19@slu.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Gender transformation is a recurrent motif in medieval literature and culture, from retellings of Ovid’s Metamorphoses to transgender saints to John/Eleanor Rykener’s late fourteenth-century sexual performance “as a woman.” What is distinctive about medieval trans narratives? How do they challenge contemporary models of gender and sexual identity? How does trans intersect with other categories, such as disability? What models—for example, “transgender time”—do we use to think about trans in the past? Participants are all asked to address, however briefly, an overarching question: what difference does it make to our reading of texts by Chaucer and those of his age to deploy transgender as a category of analysis?

57. Chaucer’s Friars
Organizer: Neil Cartlidge, cartlidgeneil@me.com
Format: Paper Panel

According to Chaucer’s Summoner, medieval friars were not just verminous (“as bees”), but also extremely numerous (“twenty thousand freres on a route”). There is no doubt that the friars played a prominent role in the literary/intellectual culture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and Chaucer seems to have been heavily indebted to a number of particular fraternal writers—but also to traditions of satirizing friars, to the extent that his relationship with them might be seen as a case of biting “the hand that fed him” (as R. A. Pratt put it). This session invites reconsideration of any aspect of Chaucer’s representation of, and/or response to, friars and fraternal culture(s).

58. Chaucer in the Secondary School Curriculum?
Organizers: Candace Barrington, BarringtonC@ccsu.edu; Kara Crawford, crawfordk@bishops.com
Format: Position Papers

Discussions of how Chaucer can be (and has been) successfully brought into secondary-school classrooms assume that Chaucer should be present in those classrooms. But should he? This session offers a provocation to lead off the pedagogical conversation at NCS, inviting position papers that address such questions as whether the rewards (to students and to teachers) of teaching Chaucer are worth dealing with such barriers as the use of present-day English editions, possible censorship, and a crowded curriculum. Can high school teachers justify adding another dead white male author to the reading list? If there are benefits to introducing students to Chaucer and his Tales, what are they? Are there important reasons why it is predominantly higher education classrooms that "own" Chaucer? Papers will not sugarcoat the obstacles facing teaching in the high-school classroom but will deal with them forthrightly and head-on.

59. Does Formalism Need Poetry?
Organizer: Ingrid Nelson, inelson@amherst.edu
Format: Position Papers

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.

60. Dreams and the Scientific Imagination
Organizer: Charlotte Rudman, charlotte.rudman@kcl.ac.uk
Format: Paper Panel

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?

61. Feminism “In Felaweshipe:” Modern Theories for Medieval Texts
Organizer: Samantha Seal, Samantha.Seal@unh.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Feminism has the distinction of being somewhat older than some of its theoretical peers. Do newer theoretical innovations in Medieval Studies (ecocriticism, disability studies, affect theory, digital humanities, etc.) necessitate a scholarly competition with feminism, or do they enable a beneficial cooperation? How can Medieval Studies embrace new opportunities for theoretical engagement without simultaneously reifying new intellectual boundaries? This panel seeks papers that bring together feminism with at least one other theoretical model (not limited to those suggested above). Of particular interest are papers that demonstrate the value and the challenges inherent in feminist interdisciplinarity, and/or engage in a larger conversation about feminism’s place in an intellectually diverse future.

62. Forms of Middle English Prayer
Organizers: Taylor Cowdery, cowdery@email.unc.edu; Megan Murton, murton@cua.edu
Format: Paper Panel

The history of Middle English lyric is indivisible from the history of prayer. Prayers for spiritual clarity resemble lyrics seeking affective catharsis, while Middle English poets are as likely to call for saintly intercession as to beg a patron’s assistance. This panel aims to explore the intersection of these two modes of language performance and to consider how their kinship might provide insight into broader questions of poetics and religion in later medieval literature. We welcome papers that consider any aspect of the relationship between prayer and lyric, but the following questions might serve as a starting point. To what extent do prayer and lyric share a common style, voice, form, or affect? Is Middle English “prayere” or “orisoun” a form distinct from Latin “oratio” or French “preiere”? Finally, is it more useful to distinguish between “secular” and “sacred” poetics in Middle English lyric or to dissolve this distinction?

63. ‘In the beginning, She Was’: Feminizing Chaucer's Authority
Organizers: Liz Herbert McAvoy, e.mcavoy@swansea.ac.uk ; Roberta Magnani, r.magnani@swansea.ac.uk
Format: Lightning Talks

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.

64. Institutional Affects
Organizers: Thomas A. Prendergast, tprendergast@wooster.edu; Stephanie Trigg, sjtrigg@unimelb.edu.au
Format: Position Papers

We invite reflections on the role of affects and emotions in our response to institutions in the broad fields of medieval studies and medievalism studies. In both arenas relationships with institutions are often as deeply emotional as they are intellectual. We think of Hoccleve in the office of the Privy Seal, or Margery Kempe’s struggles with priests and bishops, or medieval and modern scholars negotiating the demands and privileges of the university and the church; even the sometimes vexed relationship between medieval studies and medievalism in the modern academy. How do/can we read historical emotion and affect vis-à-vis institutions? How does/should emotion affect our work as medieval scholars?

65. Living Research: Drama and Performance in Practice
Proposer: Matthew Sergi, University of Toronto, matthew.sergi@utoronto.ca
Format: Lightning Talks

The two live dramatic productions that Toronto’s PLS brought to NCS 2016 — The Pride of Life and an impromptu site-specific Mankind — brought up a number of questions regarding the way that live production of late medieval plays might relate to the production of academic research in the field, whether or not it constitutes research in itself. This panel invites respondents to report on live productions of early plays or live performances/readings of any early text, emphasizing performances that have reached beyond campus; these short reports will be followed by an open discussion.

66. Loneliness and Solitude in Chaucer
Organizers: Will Rogers, youngman@ulm.edu; Chris Roman, croman2@kent.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Although Chaucer’s works are often marked by a spirit of conviviality and community, there are many moments in his texts where Chaucer the narrator, the pilgrims, or the figures in his dream visions find themselves alone. For this session, we would like to see papers that parse what it means to be alone or lonely in Chaucer’s works. Considering many of us as medievalists work alone, thinking about solitude and loneliness in the works of a poet who is not frequently considered outside the frame of “Social Chaucer” can help to tie our modern identities as medievalists to moments where community in Chaucer breaks down or is simply nonexistent. Finally, this session offers space to think through how moments of loneliness or of solitude reflect Chaucer’s exploration of the nature of emotions, the foundations of sexualities and/or gender, and the dimensions of poetic making, as collaboration or solo activity.

67. Making Room for Chaucer in Secondary Schools
Organizer: Lee Read, ladybeall@yahoo.com; Jessica Rezunyk, jrezunyk@gmail.com
Format: Seminar

How can we make space for medieval literature in secondary school classrooms where literary content is constantly shrinking? There is strong evidence that students who study Chaucer in high school are more likely to take medieval studies classes in college. Seminar participants will examine data on secondary schools that teach Chaucer and investigate strategies to encourage more schools to follow suit. Which curricula encourage the study of literature prior to 1600 and how do they incorporate Chaucer into the broad literary surveys typical of high school? How do academically rigorous testing programs (AP and IB) as well as high stakes testing (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) impact curricular content? What role does translation play in teaching Chaucer to high school students? And how do teacher education programs play a role in fostering or dismissing the belief that Chaucer is well-suited for high-school curricula?

68. The Meaning of Violence
Organizer: Robert Epstein, REpstein@fairfield.edu
Format: Paper Panel

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.

69. Misogynies: Medieval and Modern
Organizer: Nicole Sidhu, sidhun@ecu.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

As the recent American election campaign attests, misogyny—with its capacity to characterize powerful women as shrews and bitches and thereby undermine their political legitimacy—remains a significant political force. In media and popular culture, characterizations of women as jealous, lying, sex-hungry sluts abound. Scholars of the Middle Ages know that these notions have a long history in the West. This session invites short papers that explore the connections between modern and medieval misogynies and that consider how medieval feminist scholarship can contribute to an understanding of misogyny and its power in the twenty-first century.​

70. New Ideas in Manuscript Studies
Organizer: Thomas Farrell, tom.farrell@stetson.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Definition of the "new field" of manuscript studies inaugurated by Doyle and Parkes in 1978 (Kerby-Fulton et al.) remains a process: the study of manuscripts has generated evidence about scribes, communities of scribes and readers, book producers, interactions between authors and scribes, and audience reception of texts; those concerns now overlap in discussions of evidence for scribal attribution, the readership of medieval texts, loci of textual transmission, editorial practice, and other issues. This session invites discussion of newly articulated evidence and newly recognized overlaps in manuscript study: descriptions of the as-yet unexplored ways in which their evidence can generate knowledge about medieval textual production.

71. Newer Materialisms
Organizer: Taylor Cowdery, cowdery@email.unc.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Since the publication of Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter in 2010, medieval studies has witnessed an explosion of debate around the question of the ontology and agency of physical stuff in the Middle Ages. Five years after Bennett’s book, and roughly ten years after Speculative Realism, this panel aims to reassess the place of New Materialism within medieval studies. We welcome any abstracts that consider New Materialism as a field, but particularly welcome are papers that focus on its relation to other critical methodologies, on its historicity and/or historical roots, and on its possible futures. What was New Materialism before, and what is it now? What schisms exist within the field of New Materialism, as broadly defined? And to what extent has New Materialism learned from the critiques of other subfields—in particular, from historicist and Marxist critiques?

72. Parliament, Institutions, Theory: New Cases for Literature and the Law
Organizers: Brantley Bryant, brantley.bryant@sonoma.edu; Jonathan Forbes, jforbes@umail.ucsb.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Late medieval literature intertwines with institutions. Pursuing the commitments of literary texts often leads to parliament, chancery, or exchequer and to their attendant political and legal processes. Historicist approaches have richly sustained study of these intersections. This panel, however, seeks contributions that engage with legal and institutional history, but offer emergent perspectives through theoretical approaches often unpaired with historicist work. For example, what does psychoanalysis as speech theory teach us about political debate? How might ecocriticism attend to the spaces in which the law was practiced? Where’s affect in constitutional history? Participants will deliver brief talks that showcase the contributions that theoretical approaches to the law can make to the study of legal and political institutions or to documentary culture in late medieval England.

73. Practicing Patience in the Middle Ages
Organizer: Tara Williams, Tara.Williams@oregonstate.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

Patience is a complex and even paradoxical virtue. It intersects with agency and, to borrow Sara Ahmed’s term, willfulness, but it is also defined by restraint. It can describe an immediate response and/or a sustained practice. It involves affect as well as intellect. It exists on a continuum (someone can have no, little, or much patience), yet it exhibits a tipping point (when it runs out or is lost). This session invites short papers exploring the nature of medieval patience and its performance in secular and devotional contexts.    

74. Reimagining Invention
Organizer: Steele Nowlin, snowlin@hsc.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

This session welcomes papers that work to reimagine our understanding of concepts of invention in late medieval writing. While papers might of course consider invention in the sense of rhetorical inventio, this session particularly invites papers that can help us deepen, expand, or otherwise reconceptualize the way in which late medieval writers and texts variously address, represent, or enact the processes by which poetry or prose comes into being. In short, how might late medieval texts encourage us to consider “invention” more broadly? Papers might examine questions of (re)definition (what is, or was, invention?); terminology (what exactly is involved in a term like fyndyng, for example?); theory (what aspects of contemporary theory might help us productively reconceptualize invention?); meta-representation (how do writers depict processes of invention in texts?); pedagogy (how might a reimagined understanding of medieval invention help us reconsider our own approaches to teaching writing?); and other related questions.

75. The Scandalous Politics and Media of the late Middle Ages: A Time “not without some scandall”
Organizer: Geoffrey Gust, Geoffrey.Gust@stockton.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Today, public scandals are everywhere, from the title of a popular television series to TMZ, social media, and the front-page news. According to the OED, the term “scandal” was coined in English as early as the thirteenth century, but it appears that the word was not widely utilized until the late sixteenth century—although the idea itself certainly was current in the age of Chaucer. This session is intended to help fill this historical gap through presentations that offer other late medieval articulations, configurations, and theorizations of what we now recognize as scandals or the scandalous. Moving beyond issues of philology, the session especially invites papers focusing on political and religious controversies, and seeks to answer the following theoretical question: in a period defined by far different forms of “media” and popular discourse, how (and to what ends) were scandals conceptualized, publicized, reported, viewed, and appropriated in the late Middle Ages?

76. Scientia, Sapientia, et Pedagogia
Organizers: Nicole D. Smith, nicole.smith@unt.edu; Moira Fitzgibbons, moira.fitzgibbons@marist.edu
Format: Lightning Talks

From Aristotle through Augustine and Aquinas, scientia (head knowledge) and sapientia (heart knowledge) have been understood as important, and often mutually exclusive, modalities of knowledge. This session invites lightning talks that explore the intersection of the two, particularly as they emerge in pedagogical theory and practice extending from the Middle Ages to the present day. How do writers of lyrics on the Passion provide their audiences with concrete information even as they prioritize affect and a wisdom of the heart? How do prose confessional manuals appeal both to individual devotion and communal ways of knowing (literally, con-science) as part of their teaching strategies? And what might be the best strategies for engaging with emotional and intellectual responses to medieval literature, on the part of both our students and ourselves? By addressing such questions, this session highlights the multiple literacies and ways of knowing drawn upon by medieval and modern writers, readers, and educators.

77. Scribal Poetics
Organizers: Aditi Nafde, Aditi.Nafde@newcastle.ac.uk; Jenni Nuttall, jennifer.nuttall@seh.ox.ac.uk
Format: Lightning Talks

Daniel Wakelin’s 2014 study of scribal correction demonstrated that scribal activity is a rich and provocative source of information about late medieval poetics. Where studies of layout, compilation, and punctuation have examined scribes’ understanding of a text’s meaning or genre, the focus has less often been on scribes’ interpretation of its poetic form—on “scribal poetics” (as named by Ralph Hanna in Pursuing History), the embodiment of knowledge (or misapprehensions) about poetry and its techniques in codicological form. To bring together and stimulate further research in this field, we invite short talks on what scribal decision-making and/or scribal mistake-making reveal about poetic form by focusing, for example, on units of verse (the line, the stanza); the art of verse-punctuation; paraphs, bracketing, bracing, and other elements of verse mise-en-page; or the scribal handling of meter, alliteration and rhyme.

78. The Squire and His Tale: “Ernest” or “Game”?
Organizer: Bobby Meyer-Lee
Format: Position Papers

The Squire’s Tale is the poster child for the historical variability of Chaucer reception. Treasured by Milton and Spenser, the tale was near universally considered to be either a staged or actual failure through several decades in the middle of the twentieth century. More recent work exploring the tale’s psychological, cultural, social, environmental, and geopolitical implications has upended that consensus, yet doubt about its “high seriousness” remains, even in some of this very work. This session seeks papers that take new approaches in formulating an answer to the question posed by the session’s title.

79. Surveillance
Organizer: Sylvia Tomasch, stomasch@hunter.cuny.edu
Format: Paper Panel

Although surveillance is increasingly intrusive in our own lives, it's hardly a new phenomenon or concern. Medieval surveillance occurred pre-digitally, but various technologies, strategies, and social/political/religious relations made it possible, even sometimes imperative.  Considerations of surveillance in a wide range of times, places, languages, and texts are particularly encouraged. Presentations might consider: What are some of the ways surveillant processes occurred in the Middle Ages? What are some of the ways the (post-modern) present surveils the medieval past? What terms or concepts from contemporary Surveillance Studies are useful for thinking about surveillance in the Middle Ages?

80. Teaching Chaucer and the Power of Telling Stories
Organizer: Mark Randolph, mrandolph@greenhillsschool.org
Format: Seminar 

Storytelling, as Jonathan Gottschalk argues in The Story-Telling Animal, represents a desire to negotiate between what we cannot know and what we wish to manage: it is, he claims, an evolutionary strategy. The Canterbury Tales, particularly its frame, constructs us as audiences of stories that will gather us together in a community. In doing so it prompts us to tell our own stories, which will lead to new communities forming and thus new opportunities for reaching Canterbury Cathedral and redemption. This session welcomes presentations on pedagogical approaches that use the Tales to generate (particularly among secondary-school students) modes of storytelling that re-imagine, redefine and recreate both the individual and the community.

81. Wheels and Fire: Ideas of Language in Medieval Literature
Organizer: David Coley, david_coley@sfu.ca
Format: Lightning Talks

From wicker houses to twittering birds to writing on the wall, Chaucer’s poetry is awash in images, metaphors, and representations of language both ciphered and overt. Indeed, The Canterbury Tales might be called a thought experiment in creating, transmitting and receiving stories, a work fundamentally about the potential and the limitations of speech and writing. This session is not a linguistics session (though grammar and linguistics may be discussed). Instead, it steps back from linguistics itself to consider how medieval writers understood language to work, how they described and represented it, and how such understandings were processed in their work. Topics could include metaphors used for language; images of reading, writing, and speaking in medieval works; explicit versus implicit concepts of language; noise, sound, and music as language.