CFP - Vernacular Devotional Cultures Group ICMS 2020

10 Jul 2019 12:50 AM | Brandon Alakas

Vernacular Devotional Cultures Group

ICMS 2020

Session #1: The Fruits of the Orchard

Session #2: Anchoritic Ideals in Vernacular Devotional Texts (Co-Sponsored with the International Anchoritic Society)

Session #3: Vernacular Exchanges

The Vernacular Devotional Cultures Group is organizing three special sessions at the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo in May 2020. The VDCG sponsors sessions on medieval mystics and mysticism and showcases recent scholarship on vernacular spiritual traditions in medieval Western Europe. 

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words and a completed Participant Information Form to the session organizers listed below for each session. The deadline for submissions is 15 September 2019. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Session #1: The Fruits of the Orchard

Session Organizer: Barbara Zimbalist

This roundtable brings together respondents to Jennifer Brown’s important new work, Fruit of the Orchard: Reading Catherine of Siena in Late Medieval and Early Modern England (University of Toronto Press, 2018). As a study focused on the translation, transmission, and reading cultures inspired by one of the most important holy women of medieval Italy in late medieval and early modern England,  Brown’s exciting study invites consideration of how vernacular devotion travels, grows, shifts, changes, and circulates across language, time, and distance.

This panel invites responses to Brown’s project and to her theoretical and methodological models more broadly. What new directions are currently emerging from new work on Catherine, and other holy women whose texts circulated as vernacular devotion? What other figures and texts traveled in similar ways, and toward what devotional ends? And perhaps most broadly, but most suggestively: how does the study of vernacular devotional cultures invite reflection on our own critical habits, methods, and commitments—and the types of work they enable, engender, or even prohibit or discourage?

Contact Information:

Dr Barbara Zimbalist
Department of English
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University Ave.
El Paso, TX 79968


Session #2: Anchoritic Ideals in Vernacular Devotional Texts

Session Organizers: C. Annette Grisé and Stephanie Amsel

Co-sponsored with the International Anchoritic Society, we emphasize crossing boundaries of class, language, and genre. This session explores the ways religious texts adapt and borrow from each other by focussing on anchoritic literature (in both Latin and the vernacular) and lay vernacular devotional traditions. By considering both elite religious and popular lay cultures, it highlights the intersections between these groups rather than maintaining rigid class and genre hierarchies. We are interested in examining how and why anchorites, anchoresses, their ideas, and their spaces are translated into lay contexts, that is, for readers who are adapting anchoritic concepts to their secular context. What happens when elite religious culture becomes popularized?

This session values diversity in thinking and discourse, bringing a variety of texts and forms into the discussion. We will not seek to predetermine methodological perspectives (apart from expecting strong contextual frameworks and a focus on primary sources as well as relevant critical approaches) but we encourage new and innovative points of view on the topics.

Contact Information:

Dr. Catherine Annette Grisé
Associate Professor
Dept. of English and Cultural Studies
McMaster University
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L9


Dr. Stephanie Amsel
Department of English
Southern Methodist University
Clements Hall, G02AB


Session #3: Vernacular Exchanges

Organizer: Brandon Alakas

The transmission and circulation of religious writing is never neutral. The production and circulation of vernacular theology in particular calls attention, as Barbara Newman has noted, to just who could read theology and, of course, who could write theology. Was the mere love of God sufficient or was Latin literacy and clerical ordination prerequisite? Over the last two decades scholars have explored the ways in which the writing of female visionaries such as Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, and Birgitta of Sweden have created space for women to explore new theological possibilities and renegotiate the gendering of power within theological discourse. This panel on vernacular exchange considers the topic of transmission broadly to include the circulation of works across linguistic and national boundaries, and aims to explore the circulation of manuscript and printed text as indices both for particular tastes and for needs of individual readers and collective reading communities.  In taking this broad approach, this session also intends to further discussion of specific issues and networks of readers that facilitated the movement of texts among diverse communities.  

Contact Information:

Dr Brandon Alakas
Department of Fine Arts and Humanities
University of Alberta, Augustana
4901 - 46 Avenue
Camrose, AB T4V 2R3


© 2019-20 The Society of Canadian Medievalists. Designed and Developed by Andrew Klein and Elias Fahssi. All rights reserved.  Powered by Wild Apricot.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software