Animals and Materiality in the Arthurian Tradition
Proposed session for the 2019 IMC (Leeds)
Organizers: Melissa Ridley Elmes and Renée Ward
We seek papers to compose a session of 3 or 4 papers on the subject of “Animals and Materiality in the Arthurian Tradition” for the 2019 International Medieval Congress at Leeds. The Congress theme is “Materialities.”
While the subject of animals in medieval literature is enjoying substantial scholarly focus, especially considerations of animals in medieval French and English encyclopediae, bestiaries, and romances, relatively little critical work exists dealing specifically with animals in the Arthurian legend, particularly so when we look beyond the mythical White Hart, the Questing Beast, and the dragons. Yet, animals real and imagined abound throughout the pages of Arthurian narratives, appear in related artefacts (art, architecture, stained glass, paintings, and tapestries, for example), and are present in the very production of the manuscripts that preserve the legend. Moreover, recent trends in critical animal studies demand that we expand our understandings of such animal appearances to consider them for their animality—for the qualities that make them beings unto themselves rather than as analogies and metaphors for humans and their environs.
This proposed session seeks to explore animals and materiality within Arthurian traditions, to serve as the beginning of a continued scholarly discussion of the place of animals within the Arthurian realm, especially of their animality or materiality. We are particularly interested in the ways in which animals and their bodies figure as objects of veneration and/or consumption within the legend, or how, as objects themselves, they contribute to the legend’s production, preservation and perpetuation into post-medieval periods. Do animals within Arthuriana have agency beyond their symbolic functions? How might animals be considered a part of the material landscape of the legend both within and outside of the textual narratives? How, where, when, and to what purpose or function are animals found in material Arthurian spaces such as 2- and 3-d artworks, stage, television, and/or film? In what ways have animals carried the Arthurian legend across space and time from the medieval period to the present?
We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions, and interdisciplinary projects are especially welcome. Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a brief bio to session organizers Melissa Ridley Elmes (MElmes@lindenwood.edu) and Renée Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 31 August 2018. Please include your name, title, and affiliation/status on the abstract. Abstracts will be selected, and then a full session proposal will be submitted to the Congress in mid-September 2018.