Blog from CSM President:

In November I had the pleasure of attending a joint conference of the Atlantic Medieval Association and the Atlantic Medieval and Early Modern Group in Sackville, New Brunswick. It started out in an almost-can’t-see-to-drive downpour and ended in a glorious fall day aflame with autumn colours.

The conference is about as small as you can get, and I almost didn’t go this year because – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I was swamped with teaching and admin. But small conferences like the AMA are so important. I attended some excellent papers, of course, and actually got the chance to make an astrolabe – Dr.  Samuel Gessner of the University of Lisbon was the keynote speaker, and the “Hands-on History of the Astrolabe” he presented was not a metaphor! (My arts-and-crafts skills are distinctly rusty, I might add.) The real value, though, was in making connections with other medievalists. Increasingly, many of us are the lone medievalists at our universities, and academic societies provide a welcome respite from the isolation and loneliness that can entail.

I was also “pricked” – to use a Middle English word – by a panel responding to the calls to action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Hitherto I had felt a bit helpless in the face of the calls: yes, we can do more as institutions to support Indigenous students; yes, we can support calls for Indigenous literatures and histories, and work on making them mainstream – but honestly, I thought, as a medievalist, there’s not much I can do in my field. Saying “Indigenous peoples were around in the Middle Ages too and so we should study Indigenous cultures from 1000-1500” seemed a bit facile, to my way of thinking (never mind that it is imposing colonizing Western European periodization on the world, and risks cultural appropriation as well).

But the panel got me thinking about the ways in which Canadian medievalists can seriously and genuinely respond to the TRC in our scholarship as well as our institutions. We talked about incorporating Indigenous knowledge practices both in our classrooms, rethinking the top-down lecture approach, and in our scholarship, applying Indigenous theories and approaches to canonical texts. We talked about ways to avoid falling into the trap of “empty words” and “rote repetition” in our acknowledgements of the Indigenous territories our universities are built upon. We talked about countering the alt-right appropriation of medieval images and medievalism. And after the conference Lauren Beck compiled and circulated a bibliography of Indigenous literary and historical theory and methods.

In the coming months I will be posting more about these kinds of topics – both ways to counter the alt-right in our classrooms, and ways of thinking about Indigenous theory in our scholarship. I’d also like to know how you are responding to the TRC, not only in your institution but in your scholarship and teaching. And any Indigenous resources you can send me would be great as well.

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XVIth Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society / XVIe Congrès de la Société Internationale de Littérature Courtoise

13 Feb 2018 8:14 AM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

XVIth Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society

XVIe Congrès de la Société Internationale de Littérature Courtoise


22-27 July/juillet 2019, University of Exeter/Université d’Exeter, UK

Courtly Communities/Communautés courtoises

The network as a subject of study has blossomed in Medieval Studies in recent years. The notion of ‘textual community’ coined by Brian Stock has focused critical scrutiny on the ways in which literature calls communities into being. Renewed attention has been paid to the links between different authors and texts, but also to the social dimension of reception – who owned and read literary texts, what motivated owners and audiences’ interest in them, and how literature contributed to binding different communities together. Meanwhile, conceptual tools such as Bruno Latour’s actor-network model are proving to offer productive and increasingly popular ways of thinking about the connectedness of medieval texts, their creators, and audiences.

The International Courtly Literature Society proposes to recognise the vibrancy and timeliness of this topic by making it the central theme for its next International Triennial Congress, which will be held at the University of Exeter (UK) from 22-27th July 2019. We invite proposals of up to 200 words for 20-minute papers in English or French, to be submitted by 15th June 2018. We are also interested to welcome full panel proposals of up to 4 papers.

Potential paper/panel topics include (but are not limited to):

-          Courts as communities
-          Textual communities
-          Literary and artistic collaboration
-          The network as a concept
-          Linguistic communities
-          Material communities at court

Alongside the main business of scholarly exchange and debate, the conference will include visits to local medieval landmarks and other places of interest. All these activities will take place in a spirit of collaboration, community, and friendship, which will allow participants to build and renew their own professional and personal networks.

Please send your proposals (in English or French) for papers or full panels to the following address, by 15th June 2018: [e.j.cayley@exeter.ac.uk]

Le réseau est devenu un sujet de prédilection pour les médiévistes au cours des dernières années. La notion de ‘communauté textuelle’ définie par Brian Stock a eu l’effet de focaliser l’attention des chercheurs sur les divers moyens à travers lesquels la littérature donne naissance aux communautés. La critique s’est évertuée à relever les rapports entre différents auteurs ou textes, mais aussi à détailler la dimension sociale de la transmission : la nature de l’intérêt porté aux textes littéraires par leurs publics, l’identité et les motivations de ceux qui commanditaient ou collectionnaient ces textes, et la capacité de la littérature à créer et à nourrir les communautés. En même temps, divers modèles conceptuels tel que la théorie acteur-réseau développée par Bruno Latour se sont révélés utiles pour analyser les liens entres les textes médiévaux, leurs créateurs, et leurs publics.

La Société internationale de littérature courtoise se propose de reconnaître l’importance et l’actualité de ce sujet en l’inscrivant comme thème principal de son prochain Congrès international, du 22 au 27 juillet 2019 à l’université d’Exeter (Royaume-Uni). Nous vous invitons à nous faire part de vos propositions en envoyant un résumé de 200 mots maximum (en anglais ou en français) pour des communications de 20 minutes, avant le 15 juin 2018. Nous lirons aussi avec intérêt les propositions d’ateliers complets (maximum 4 intervenants).

Les communications peuvent porter sur les thèmes suivants (entre autres) :

-          Communautés de/à la cour
-          La communauté textuelle
-          Collaboration littéraire et artistique
-          Le réseau comme concept
-          Communautés linguistiques
-          Communautés matérielles

Les échanges intellectuels qui constitueront le fond même de la conférence seront agrémentés de plusieurs visites organisées, comprenant d’importants sites médiévaux de la région. Toutes ces activités se dérouleront dans un esprit de collaboration, de communauté, et de convivialité, qui permettra aux conférenciers de développer et de nourrir leurs propres réseaux personnels et professionnels.

Les résumés de 200 mots maximum (en anglais ou en français) pour des communications de 20 minutes devront être envoyés, avant le 15 juin 2018, à l’adresse suivante: [e.j.cayley@exeter.ac.uk]

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