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  • 16 Nov 2017 11:52 AM | Kristin Bourassa

    Deadline 1 February 2018

    Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures

    In recent years, the growing field of ‘Human-Animal Studies’ has done much to bring animals into the focus of a variety of academic disciplines. Pre-modern texts offer many possibilities for interdisciplinary research on the subject. In the Middle Ages, for example, Jewish as well as Christian and Muslim authors often use discourses on the allegorical meanings of animals in order to express their attitudes towards God and the world, normative religious and social orders, or interdependencies between nature and culture. In many instances, they deal with animals as carriers of meaning which are of interest to members of different religious communities because they appear in a common authoritative reference text, i.e. the Hebrew Bible / the Old Testament. The pre-modern authors’ respective hermeneutic approaches show how they develop different religious, social, political, philosophical, and scientific ideas and how they distance themselves from the other religions’ hermeneutic traditions but also exchange elements and integrate them into their own discourses.

    To name but one example: What do Medieval and Early Modern Jewish, Christian and even Muslim authors make of the dove or turtle-dove which is mentioned as a potential sacrificial offering in the Bible but also appears as a messenger announcing the end of the Deluge and as a symbol denoting the beloved woman in the Song of Songs? How do Jewish scholars handle the fact that the dove is often associated with Christianity’s Holy Spirit? What becomes of the rabbinic idea that the dove symbolizes the congregation of Israel needing to take flight from danger? What stance do Jewish and Christian authors take up regarding the assumption that doves are especially loyal and faithful, and what consequences do they infer from this assumption? How does the way a dove looks figure in their interpretations? What happens with theological ascriptions when they find their way into secular texts? In what ways do new theoretical approaches to animals bring new fresh insights into biblical literature?

    These and similar questions can be asked concerning many biblical animals. Jewish and Christian discussions on the symbolic meanings of these animals are especially suitable for comparative studies because both religions refer to the same religious core text which is subject to ever new exegeses and commentaries. The comparison could also include Muslim and Manichaean engagement with Biblical creatures. Medieval and Early Modern authors deal with the allegorical meanings of biblical creatures in commentaries on the Bible and in literary re-workings of the Bible, in homilies, in mystical and in scientific texts, in secular narrative literature, and in secular pragmatic texts.

    Interfaces invites contributions investigating how Jewish and Christian, Late Antique, Medieval, and Early Modern scholars developed different perspectives on the animal as a carrier of religious and secular meaning. Authors will be free to address any European literature, language, genre, or text, or to work across these categories, provided they give a strong theoretical framing to their argument. Interdisciplinary, comparative, and diachronic studies will be welcome, as well as more specific analyses of single texts or small groups of texts. Contributions on the differences and interdependencies between Latin and Hebrew texts are welcome as well as studies on vernacular texts (i.e. German, Yiddish, French, English, Italian, etc.). Moreover, Interfaces would also like to encourage contributions on animal discourses in Islam and Manichaeism that draw on biblical traditions.

    Interfaces invites papers in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.

  • 15 Nov 2017 4:18 AM | Kristin Bourassa
    CFP for a panel at the International Society of Intellectual History Conference, June 2018, University of St Andrews The body politic and its boundaries in late medieval and early modern political literature The metaphor of the “body politic” is probably one of the most common and widespread metaphors in political literature (Struve 1978; Briguglia 2006; Archambault 1967). It allowed political theorists to strike the imagination of their contemporaries with the most vivid of images: that of the human body as an exemplary model of proportion and harmony (Nederman 2000, 2005; Le Goff 1989; Shogimen 2007, 2008; Rigby 2013). The body supposedly displays the right configuration of disparate components and organs, exhibits the necessary hierarchy between its parts, as well as opens the possibility of a regulated collaboration and solidarity between the plurality of its members within the unity of the body. When the human body is posited as God's creation, it makes it an even more authoritative paradigm of the just regime. The vast array of pathologies and diseases is a platform for an exciting interchange between political ideas and medical views. Diseases are always a powerful means to decry a lack of order and reflect upon corruption. The literature on the broken or monstrous body, the illness of society or various healing devices and practices are therefore illustrative of the fruitfulness of the metaphor of the body politic and its ability to think about a just society in terms of health and illness (Harris 1998). But the political body is also a great imaginary device to think about boundaries, liminality and passage with the exterior world as well as within itself. The crucial value for the medieval and the early modern polity is unity – there was no bigger threat to a state than external threat and internal dissension, which in both cases sowed the seeds for decay and destruction (Blumenfeld-Kosinski 1999). Each society defines itself through the inclusion of its members, that is the exclusion of all undesirables immediately turned into social and political outcasts. Concord and dissent are therefore great producers of boundaries. The polluted “other” has to be cast out of the “body politic”; the member contaminated had to be removed or treated. In the metaphor of the body politic, both the external boundaries as well as the internal ones are at stake. The external or internal boundaries, such as the skin itself, are more porous than it seems, and occasionally, they are often crossed, transgressed or “liquefied” (Hochner 2012). The proposed panel intends to address the place and significance of boundaries of the “body politic” in late medieval and early modern political literature. By examining a series of case studies, we hope to scrutinize issues of inclusion and exclusion, harmony and chaos, order and fluidity, closure and passage and how the prevalent metaphor of the body politic facilitated a set of certain values, solidarity, loyalty, social justice, purity or charity while making others either odd or impossible. Please contact Nicole Hochner at
  • 1 Nov 2017 9:22 PM | Anonymous

    MEST Symposium 2018 CFP- EXTENDED DEADLINE, Nov 24, 2017
    Title: Force, Resistance, and Mercy: Medieval Violence and Nonviolence


    The Medieval Studies Institute of Indiana University invites proposals for its 30th Annual Medieval Studies Symposium, April 6-7, 2018, in Bloomington, Indiana

    Iron maidens, the Inquisition, the Crusades, witch burnings: these images of violence, both fact and fiction, are profoundly connected to the Middle Ages. Yet if in many popular conceptions, the medieval world is associated with brutality and suffering, the period also offers unique formulations of mercy, compassion, and the power of resistance. In exploring both medieval violence or nonviolence, this symposium seeks to examine specific structures of power and brutality but also to complicate the narrative of the violent Middle Ages.

    We invite papers on any medieval discipline or region that engage issues of medieval violence and nonviolence: What functions did violence serve in the Middle Ages? How might acts of physical and rhetorical violence against othered groups (gendered, religious, cultural, racial, nonhuman) reflect larger concerns or anxieties within medieval culture? Is there a medieval aesthetic of violence? How does medieval music, art, theology, and literature glorify or critique brutality and/or suffering? How do medieval texts understand the uses and effects of verbal violence? How might medieval violence operate in a metaphorical sense, as violence done to texts or to the material past? What does nonviolence look like in the Middle Ages? Given the functions and pervasiveness of violence, what are some ways in which it is resisted and negotiated? What alternatives do medieval people or institutions offer to violence? How might medieval understandings of mercy or love act as a counter to violence? We also encourage papers on modern representations of the Middle Ages that consider to what extent and to what ends these medievalisms employ violence and nonviolence.

    Please submit 200 word abstracts or complete sessions proposals to by November 24th, 2017.

  • 26 Oct 2017 9:23 AM | Kristin Bourassa

    Call for Papers

    Fear and Loathing in the Earthly City –

    Negative Emotions in the Medieval and Early Modern Period c. 1100-1700 

    1-2 November 2018, University of Southern Denmark

    Keynote speakers
    Malcolm Gaskill, University of East Anglia and Craig Taylor, University of York 

    The exploration, control and canalization of negative emotions played a crucial role in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The fundamental negative emotions were conceptually expressed in the Seven Deadly Sins and mirrored in The Seven Virtues. While the virtues were what humans should strive for in order to be good Christians, it was often their negative counterparts that appear most poignantly in the sources (written, pictorial or musical), because they were firmly embedded into the terrestrial life as ubiquitous obstacles to be overcome or coped with in order to gain salvation. This preoccupation with negative emotions and the sinfulness of man was strong in the Middle Ages and continued unabated during the reformations of the sixteenth century and beyond. Nevertheless, the perception of negative emotions was highly depended on the affective context, and they might not be perceived as unequivocally bad and negative. Anti-social emotions of fear, hatred, and envy which on the outset would be perceived of as negative, could depending on the exigencies of the situation be construed of as constructive and indeed even beneficial to man, society and ultimately God. The interpretation of emotions and their categorization as positive or negative was thus flexible in accordance with the demands of context and situation.

    With this conference we seek to investigate cultures of negative emotions from an interdisciplinary angle and in all walks of life be they religious, rural, civic, aristocratic etc. We thus invite papers that explore the role of emotions expressing negativity such as fear, envy, hatred, but also melancholy and sadness in culture, society and the conception of the individual in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, c.1100 to 1700.

    Please send an abstract (200 words) of your proposed paper and a short biography before 1 April 2018 to Louise Nyholm Kallestrup

    Possible topics may include:

    • When is the seemingly anti-social, negative and/or bad emotions and potentially and sometimes even immediately understood as necessary and beneficial? How can we study that paradox?

    • Continuity and change: How and why did perceptions of negative emotions change?

    • What was the relationship between negative emotions and institutions of power (e.g. state, church etc.)?

    • What are negative emotions in a historical perspective? When, where and why are negative emotions considered appropriate?

    • How are negative emotions gendered?

    • How and when are negative emotion embodied?

    • How are negative emotions inherited in space and place?

      The conference is organized by the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, SDU, and the National Museum of Denmark.

      Conference venue: University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230-Odense M

      Conference conveners: Thomas Heebøll-Holm, SDU

      Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen, National Museum of Denmark

      Louise Nyholm Kallestrup, SDU 

  • 3 Oct 2017 7:16 AM | Anonymous

    Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies
    June 18-20, 2018
    Saint Louis University
    Saint Louis, Missouri


    The Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies (June 18-20, 2018) is a convenient summer venue for scholars from around the world to present papers, organize sessions, participate in roundtables, and engage in interdisciplinary discussion. The goal of the Symposium is to promote serious scholarly investigation into all topics and in all disciplines of medieval and early modern studies.

    The plenary speakers for this year will be Geoffrey Parker of The Ohio State University, and Carole Hillenbrand of the University of St Andrews.

    The Symposium is held annually on the beautiful midtown campus of Saint Louis University. On-campus housing options include affordable, air-conditioned apartments as well as a luxurious boutique hotel. Inexpensive meal plans are available, and there is also a wealth of restaurants, bars, and cultural venues within easy walking distance of campus.

    While attending the Symposium participants are free to use the Vatican Film Library, the Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection, and the general collection at Saint Louis University's Pius XII Memorial Library.

    Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies invites proposals for papers, complete sessions, and roundtables. Any topics regarding the scholarly investigation of the medieval and early modern world are welcome. Papers are normally twenty minutes each and sessions are scheduled for ninety minutes. Scholarly organizations are especially encouraged to sponsor proposals for complete sessions.

    The deadline for all submissions is December 31. Decisions will be made in January and the final program will be published in February.

    For more information or to submit your proposal online go to:


  • 31 Aug 2017 8:48 AM | Anonymous

    Call for Papers - Leeds International Medieval Congress 2018
    2-5 July, Leeds, UK
    Sponsor: MEARCSTAPA
    Monstrous Medievalism: Toxic Appropriations of the Middle Ages in Modern Popular Culture and Thought
    MEARCSTAPA seeks papers to compose a session of 3 or 4 papers to the 2018 International Medieval Congress at Leeds. The Congress theme is “Memory.” Our hope is that this session will run as a twin-session to our proposed panel for Kalamazoo 2018 on Monstrous Medievalisms.
    The medieval period continues to be misidentified both as a primitive and savage ‘dark ages’ and as an idealized utopian golden age of racial and religious homogeny. In both cases, aspects of medieval culture—stories, motifs, and themes—are appropriated and reimagined (that is, remembered and reconstructed) in ways that celebrate and promote the othering of certain racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should be made uncomfortable by the realization that we share some interests with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other groups dedicated to the oppression, segregation, and even elimination of racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should feel even more uncomfortable when this othering—intentional or otherwise—becomes common in the presentation of the Middle Ages in various popular cultural media.
    These medievalisms use the Middle Ages—our Middle Ages—to advance their racist agendas, which have frequently resulted in malicious acts against individuals and groups. In short, the Middle Ages are often put to monstrous work in modern popular thought and culture, frequently used by one community to attack another. The Middle Ages thus become othered and estranged from the scholars who study and teach from positions of acceptance and inclusion. These monstrous medievalisms use the period to foster some of the most pernicious ideologies of the present day and distort our understanding of the past. We ask, whose Middle Ages are they? And in so doing, we seek to confront these monstrous medievalisms, to unravel and make sense of them in order to dismantle the negative work they do.
    Papers for this panel might address topics such as:
    Appropriations of the medieval image and narrative in Nazi propaganda
    Contemporary White Pride/White Nationalist appropriations of the medieval symbols and signs (tattoos, banners, album covers, banners)
    Racist responses to inclusion in “Medieval” film
    The medieval fantasies of white identity in the Anglo-Saxon enthusiasm of the founding fathers
    Racialized Monsters in the contemporary medieval fantasy
    Race War as trope in Ancient and Medieval period films, video games, and/or books
    "Unintentional" rehearsals of racist ideologies in popular media
    We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions. Additionally, MEARCSTAPA will provide an award of $500 to the best graduate student submission to this or any of its sessions to help offset the costs of travel and lodging for the IMC.
    Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a brief bio to session organizer Renée Ward ( by 9 September 2017. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts will be vetted by the MEARCSTAPA board and the full session will be submitted to the Congress mid-September 2017.

    Canadian Society of Medievalists

  • 25 May 2017 11:07 PM | Andrew Klein

    The twenty-first biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies will take place 8–10 March 2018 in Sarasota, Florida.

    The program committee invites 250-word abstracts of proposed twenty-minute papers on topics in European and Mediterranean history, literature, art, music and religion from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries. Interdisciplinary work is particularly appropriate to the conference’s broad historical and disciplinary scope. Planned sessions are also welcome.

    The deadline for all abstracts is 15 September 2017; for submission guidelines or to submit an abstract, please go to

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