Friday, 30 August 2013

CFP: The Health of the Realm: The Historical Context of Medicine in the Early Middle Ages

IMC Leeds 7-10 July 2014

While interest in medicine and medical texts has been growing in recent years, its historical context has largely been neglected. Illness and treatment do not exist in a vacuum: just as chronic stomach pain finds a place alongside Byzantine diplomacy and the Lombard threat in the letters of Gregory the Great, so the Anglo-Saxon Bald's Leechbook transcribes a remedy sent to a sick King Alfred, and Bede records the plague that brought the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow to its knees. Medical texts were the product of the circumstances, anxieties, and philosophies of their times, just as the times were shaped by the health of those who lived them.

This session hopes to explore the historical framework of illness, care, and the transmission of medical knowledge. We are looking for papers on any aspect of early medieval medicine that draws on broader themes, on topics including but not limited to:

- Cultural relations and the transmission of texts
- Trade and the market for materia medica
- The economy of medical care
- Transmission
- Vernacular and Latin sources
- Linguistic development and medical texts
- Leadership and Illness
- Death and illness, 'the Great Levellers'
- Soul, body, and the Church

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Christine Voth by September 10, 2013

CFP: Sessions at Kalamazoo 2014

The 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 8-11, 2014

Please note: these CFPs are for different sessions at Congress. If you are intending to submit to an abstract, please pay attention to the contact details for that session and direct your emails to the correct person.

CFP: New Readings on Women in Old English Literature Revisited (A Roundtable)

It has been over twenty years since the publication of New Readings on Women in Old English Literature, edited by Helen Damico and Alexandra Hennessey Olsen (Indiana University Press 1990). That text was a landmark, the first to collect scholarship examining Old English texts, both canonical and those less frequently considered, from a feminist perspective. Many of the essays included are still valuable, but it is time for an updating of this important text. Much valuable work has been accomplished in the years since its publication, and more remains to be done. This session is a roundtable in which participants will discuss the state of scholarship that considers Anglo-Saxon texts from a feminist perspective, whatever that might mean today, and what direction an updating of the original volume might take. Helen Damico has agreed to serve as a respondent. This special session is a preliminary part of a project that looks towards producing a new volume of essays updating the original.

Please contact Yvette Kisor by September 15, 2013. Along with your proposal, please include a completed Participant Information Form, which is available on the ICMS website.

CFP: Give and Take: Exchange in Early Medieval English, Norse, and Celtic Literature

Gift-theory and theories of exchange continue to grant interesting insights into medieval literature, and medievalists have important perspectives to contribute to the body of theoretical scholarship on exchange. This session seeks papers exploring concepts of exchange in early medieval Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic literatures and is especially interested in papers that apply gift-theory beyond the simple exchange of gift-items. This means, for instance, considering exchange more broadly (exchanged violence, exchange between generations, exchange between the spiritual and temporal realms, symbolic exchange, etc.), or thinking through conceptual problems within gift-theory addressed by medieval sources: for example, how is meaning negotiated and guaranteed through exchange? Where are the lines are between gift, loan, and purchase? How does the gift reveal or hide intention? How is the extent of selflessness or self-interest determined or judged? How does the gift function as a test or revelation of character? What is the relationship between a thing given and its meaning?

250-300-word abstracts should be sent to Stephanie Clark by September 15. Along with your proposal, please include a completed Participant Information Form, which is available on the ICMS website. Unless requested otherwise, proposals not used in this session will be forwarded on to the Congress committee for consideration for general sessions.

CFP: Single-Manuscript Texts: the Challenges and Opportunities of Uniqueness

For many theories of textual criticism, single-manuscript texts are a problem and anomaly, yet many of the most important works of medieval literature are known from single manuscripts. Within English literature alone, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, many of the lyrics in Harley 2253, and scores of other texts are unique. Moreover, medieval readers had to cope with lone texts at least as often as do modern scholars. The behavior of scribes, annotators, and translators working from damaged or otherwise problematic exemplars makes clear that in the Middle Ages, people often encountered texts that they could never expect to compare with others. The experience of uniqueness, then, was in fact a normal aspect of medieval book culture. But once we have stopped seeing single-manuscript texts as anomalies, how shall we proceed? Does uniqueness demand its own editorial practice? How should we read books that have no parallels?

With such questions in mind, we hope to bring together scholars working on a range of national languages and time periods to discuss the principles and methods guiding our study of single-manuscript texts, with the goal of understanding how unique manuscripts can be understood within medieval book culture and modern critical practice.

Abstracts and Participant Information Forms should be sent to Arthur W. Bahr.

Queries may also be directed to Emily Thornbury.

CFP: Strange Letters: Alphabets in Medieval Manuscripts

The letter, as most medieval grammatical texts will tell you, is the fundamental unit of language; if you want to know a language, you must know its letters. Throughout much of the western middle ages, knowledge of languages was primarily restricted to Latin and various European vernaculars, all of which were written with the Roman alphabet. Nevertheless, medieval scholars were well aware of other alphabets, and even knew the rudimentary connections among say the Roman, Greek, and Hebrew alphabets. Despite the general inability to interact with these and other languages in a sustained way, medieval scribes exhibit a fascination with a variety of non-Roman alphabets: Greek, and Hebrew, of course, but also Runes, Coptic, Arabic, and invented alphabets like that attributed to Aethicus Ister.

This session looks to bring together scholars working on these alphabets and those with interest in the topic to share each others' insights. Potential topics include but are not limited to:
- Alphabet Collections
- Ciphers and Codes
- Alphabetic/acrostic poetry
- The use of foreign - and pseudo - scripts in medieval art
- The use of letters in charms and magic
- Foreign marginalia
- Manuscript runes

Please send any queries as well as abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participation Form to session organizer Damian Fleming by September 15, 2013. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract. Abstracts not accepted for this session will be forwarded to the Congress committee which will consider the paper for inclusion in a general session.

Friday, 2 August 2013

CFP: Un/making Mistakes in Medieval Media (Kalamazoo, 2014)

Organizers: Barbara M. Eggert (Humboldt University, Berlin) and Christine Schott (Erskine College, South Carolina)

Errare humanum est – and just as today, errors and mistakes occurred in every field of medieval culture, concerning the sacred and the secular sphere alike.

During the Holy Mass, priests lost focus, words were omitted from liturgical texts, wine got spilled on sacred garments - and there were texts, of course, telling you how to deal with these failings, how to unmake these mistakes. In the legal context, mistakes of law or fact could have a vital influence on the sentence – therefore, following the Roman Law, errors and mistakes were categorized, classed, and addressed in legal texts. While scholars of medieval arts usually focus on the craftsmanship of the artifacts, errors and mistakes of a different nature are to be found in any genre; some of them, like flaws in pottery, obviously happened accidentally; others, like portraits of figures with two left hands, belong to the category of deliberate mistakes.

As a follow-up of the questions raised in the session Un/making Mistakes in Medieval Manuscripts (Kalamazoo 2013), the purpose of this session is to examine errors and mistakes and the "corrections" thereof from different angles: On the one hand, the sessio_nFocuses on theory by analyzing how medieval scholars of different fields defined error and mistake and the consequences these phenomena could have. What mistakes mattered, and in what context – and (how) could they be corrected? On the other hand, the session is dedicated to the material aspects of error, that is the exploration of mistakes in medieval artifacts. It invites paper proposals from both scholars of text as well as scholars of images of any genre (manuscripts, textiles, stained glass windows, etc.) that explore the nature of errors, mistakes, and obscurities in medieval media as well as the “corrections” thereof to gain insight into the contemporary assumptions about what a particular medium should look like.

The session welcomes papers from all disciplines.

Please send your abstract, along with a short CV and the paper proposal form (which you can download here) to Barbara M. Eggert and Christine Schott by September 1, 2013.