Thursday, July 2, 2015

Subvention for Graduate Students (and Others) to attend "Futures of the Past" @ GW

On Friday October 30 the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (GW MEMSI) will hold an all day symposium called Futures of the Past that will welcome the following scholars to present and converse on recent and forthcoming book projects that promise a major intervention in the field:

Like all GW MEMSI events, this symposium is free and welcomes all who wish to attend. We have also set aside funding to enable some graduate students, recent PhDs, and NTT or un[der]employed faculty who do not possess adequate research resources to travel to DC to join us and participate. The funding we possess should cover travel (plane, train or bus) and two nights at a local hotel (which we will arrange on the awardee's behalf). Lunch and a reception are included in the symposium and those receiving the subvention will also be invited to dinner afterwards.

I realize that this is funding is in no way adequate: we can likely sponsor only two or three scholars, and we do not have enough money available to provide a per diem or anything really beyond transportation, a nice place to stay for two nights, some food and drink, and a hearty welcome into our community. But we do hope that this opportunity will be a valuable one, and we wish we could do more.

If you are interested in the subvention, please send a short email that speaks about the importance of the event and its speakers to work with which you are engaged. Deadline for receipt is August 1, 2015.

Jeffrey Cohen
Director, GW MEMSI 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Save the Date: Futures of the Past, October 30

The GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute is happy to announce its Fall 2015 symposium, "Futures of the Past."

Now that the Institute is entering the final three of its ten years of institutional funding, we have been thinking seriously about how to remain forward-looking and future-making. In each of the next three years we intend to sponsor a symposium that riffs upon our motto, gathering scholars at various points in their careers who have recently or are just about to publish a book of broad thematic interest. Our hope is to form a lively community around some important new work, fostering a wide ranging conversation about what paths medieval and early modern studies might take in the years ahead. The symposia welcome all who wish to attend.

On Friday October 30 we will hold an all day symposium Futures of the Past that will welcome the following scholars:
The symposium will be held in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Room of the Gelman Library (702). More details as the event nears.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

GW MEMSI @ #Kzoo2015: "Lost"

Please join us at the International Congress of Medieval Studies (#kzoo2015) for the GW MEMSI sponsored roundtable "Lost." The event takes place on Friday at 3.30 in Schneider 1140.

The Department of Lost Objects (also known as the Department of Found Objects) recently emptied the inventory of its Lostandfound and sent these items to the participants in the GW MEMSI roundtable "Lost."

Lost (A Roundtable)
Sponsor: Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI), George Washington Univ.
Presider: Jeffrey J. Cohen

Lost Speech 

Randy P. Schiff, Univ. at Buffalo

Lost Time 

Christopher Roman, Kent State Univ.–Tuscarawas

Lost in Love 

Lowell Duckert, West Virginia Univ.

Lost English Dual Number Pronouns 

Daniel Remein, Univ. of Massachusetts–Boston

Lost at Sea / Adrift 

Eileen Joy, BABEL Working Group

Lost Causes 

Jonathan Hsy, George Washington Univ.

Lost in Thought 

Anne F. Harris, DePauw Univ. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dr. Jami Rogers "Shakespeare and (the lack of?) Diversity" April 24

Please join us for the last event of the 2014-15 year!

Dr. Jami Rogers
"Shakespeare and (the lack of?) Diversity: 
The State of Integrated Casting in 21st Century UK Theatre"

Lunchtime talk. All are welcome!
Rome Hall 771 (Academic Center, 801 22nd St NW)
Friday April 24 11.30-1.30
RSVP to so that we have enough food.

The lack of opportunity for black and Asian actors in the entertainment industry in the UK has recently been under the microscope, thanks to lobbying groups such as Act for Change and the very public declarations from black British actors such as David Oyelowo and David Harewood stating they had to leave the UK to get work. Oyelowo and Harewood both have made history – Oyelowo as the first black actor to play an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Harewood as the first black actor to play Othello at the National Theatre; only Harewood has performed Shakespeare in the UK since and only once. While there has unquestionably been an increase in casting actors of color in classical theatre in the UK over the past thirty years, most are unable to break the color barrier for leading roles unless they are cast as Othello. Using the data from over 1000 productions documented in the forthcoming BBA Shakespeare Multicultural Performance Database, this paper seeks to both document the growing contribution of BAME performers to UK Shakespearean theatre and question how contemporary casting policies in classical theatre in the UK have failed Oyelowo, Harewood and many others.

Dr. Jami Rogers is currently Research Assistant for the AHRC-funded Multicultural Shakespeare project at the University of Warwick. She trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and holds an MA and a PhD from the Shakespeare Institute, the University of Birmingham. Prior to obtaining her PhD Jami spent 10 years working for PBS, first at the network's headquarters in Alexandria and then for 8 years at WGBH/Boston working on Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!, where awards included a Primetime Emmy from the Academy of Arts and Television Sciences. She is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and has taught at the Universities of Birmingham, Warwick and the British American Drama Academy. Her research interests are the contemporary performances of Shakespeare and American drama in the UK. She has published articles in Shakespeare Bulletin and Shakespeare: The Journal of the British Shakespeare Association and regularly reviews performances for the major academic journals. Jami has lectured on Shakespeare and American drama at the National Theatre in London and works regularly with director David Thacker at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Entangled Trajectories

MEMSI and the Early Americas Working Group presents:

Entangled Trajectories: 
Integrating Native American And European Histories
Organized by Ralph Bauer and Marcy Norton 

Baptista Boazio (1585) at the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Library of Congress

April 9 – 10, 2015
George Washington University and the Mexican Cultural Institute

This exciting inter-disciplinary symposium will take place April 9-10, 2015, at George Washington University and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

The conference is organized by the Early Americas Working Group and co-sponsored by the Kislak Family FoundationGeorge Washington University (MEMSI, History Department and CCAS ), the University of Maryland (Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and Miller Center for Historical Studies), the National History Center of the American Historical Association, and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Registration for regular panels is now closed. In order to rsvp for Elizabeth Boone's keynote address, please rsvp here:

Preliminary Program
 Thursday, 9 April, 2015
8:30 Coffee and Pastries
9:00 Welcome: Ben Vinson III (Dean, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, GW)
9: 15 Introduction: Ralph Bauer (UMD) and Marcy Norton (GW)

9:30-11:15: Entangled Things
Chair: Colin McEwan (Dumbarton Oaks)
  1. Molly Warsh (University of Pittsburgh)
    Pearls and indigenous language, practice, and ecology in the early Spanish Caribbean
  2. Neil Safier (The John Carter Brown Library)
    Masked Observers and Mask Collectors: Entangled Visions from the Eighteenth-Century Amazon
  3. Margaret M Bruchac (University of Pennsylvania)                                                                   Take Me to the River: Navigating the Materiality and Messaging of Wampum
11:30-12:45: Entangled Languages 
Chair: Joanne Rappaport (Georgetown University)
  1. Galen Brokaw (Montana State University)
    Colonial Translation and Inca Culture
  2. Birgit Brander Rasmussen (Yale University)
    Guerrilla Philology, Guerrilla Linguistics: Sequoyah's Achievement Reconsidered
12:45-2:15: Lunch

2:15-4:00: Entangled in Conflict
Chair: Kathleen Lynch (The Folger Shakespeare Library)
  1. Karen Graubart (University of Notre Dame)
    Parallel Play: cabildos de españoles and cabildos de indios in the early Lima Valley
  2. David Silverman (The George Washington University)
    Firearms and Issue of Dependency in the History of North American Indians
  3. Ned Blackhawk (Yale University)
    The Overlapping Temporalities of Genocide and Settler Colonial Studies
 6:45: Keynote
2829 16th St NW, Washington, DC
Elizabeth Boone (Tulane University)
The dilemma of the gods and the familiarity of the kings: constructions of Aztec Identity in early colonial Mexico

Friday, April 10, 2015
 9-10:45: Entangled Perceptions 
Chair: Alejandro Cañeque (University of Maryland)
  1. Barbara Mundy (Fordham University)
    The smellscape of Mexico City: entangled perceptions of odors in the early modern capital
  2. Byron Hamann (Ohio State University)
    Las relaciones mediterratlánticas’: Epistolary archaeologies in the Iberian world, 1574-1586
  3. Dana Leibsohn (Smith College)
    Colonial/Cosmopolitan: Image-making and Indigeneity in Spanish America
 2:15-4:00: Entangled Spiritualties
Chair: Joan Bristol (George Mason University)
  1. Nancy Farriss (University of Pennsylvania)
    Whose Church?  The Indigenous Role in the Evangelization and cura de almasin Colonial Mexico
  2. James Maffie (University of Maryland)
    Double Mistaken Philosophical Identity in the Mexica-European Encounter
  3. Matt Cohen (University of Texas)
    Rethinking Reciprocity
 4:15-6:00: Entangled Metropole
Chair: Jeffrey Cohen (George Washington University)
  1. Nancy van Deusen (Queen’s University)
    All the World in a Village: Indio Slaves in Sixteenth-Century Carmona, Spain and the Shaping of Indio Identities
  2. Coll Thrush (University of British Columbia)
    The Unhidden City: Episodes from Indigenous London
  3. Jace Weaver (University of Georgia)
    Interbraided Destinies: American Indigenes and the Making of Modern Europe
 6:00: Reception

You can follow us on Facebook at Entangled Trajectories Conference April 2015, and on Twitter @ETrajectories.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Symposium: Transition, Scale and Catastrophe

Please mark your calendar now for this daylong symposium! Admission is free, but you must REGISTER HERE if you plant to attend.

Transition, Scale and Catastrophe @ GW

9 AM
Coffee and bagels

Karl Steel, "Barely Life"
Stephanie LeMenager, "No Words"

Coffee break

Lynn Tomlinson, "Lost House"
Anne Harris, "Anamorphic Reach"


Steve Mentz, "Ship Wreck"
Stacy Alaimo, "Anthropocene Dissolves"

Closing Roundtable

4-5.30 PM
Reception at Gallery 102 (Smith Hall, Academic Center). [This is the student art gallery which will have an exhibit on "Photography and Accident"]

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ania Loomba, Crossing Boundaries: Friday Feb. 13

Please join us on Friday February 13 as Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, presents a talk in Rome Hall 771 (801 22nd St NW) at 3 PM:
Crossing Boundaries: Race, Postcoloniality and the Early Modern 
Is the “early” in “early modern” the same as “early” in “early colonial”? How do these temporal boundaries rely on spatial divisions that continue to structure our  thinking? Viewing the Renaissance through a postcolonial lens, and viewing the postcolonial in the light of a longer temporal frame, can help us cross some of these boundaries and rethink modernity.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Symposium on Transition, Scale and Catastrophe: March 20

Please mark your calendar and save the date! On Friday March 20 the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute will hold an all day symposium on "Transition, Scale and Catastrophe." The event will take place in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Room, Gelman Library 7th floor.

Presentations include:
Karl Steel, "Barely Life"
Stephanie LeMenager, "No Words"

Lynn Tomlinson, "Lost House"
Anne Harris, "Anamorphic Reach"

Steve Mentz, "Ship Wreck"
Stacy Alaimo, "Anthropocene Dissolves"

Lynn Tomlinson will screen her award winning film The Ballad of Holland Island House as part of her presentation (the image above is taken from that film). Reception to follow. More details soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Save the dates: "Entangled Trajectories: Integrating Native American and European Histories”

Please save the dates – April 9 and 10 – for an exciting inter-disciplinary conference, “Entangled Trajectories: Integrating Native American and European Histories.” 

Elizabeth Boone will deliver a public lecture at the Mexican Cultural Institute on April 9 at 6:45, and there will be sessions at George Washington University on April 9 and 10. Confirmed speakers include: Ned Blackhawk (Yale University); Galen Brokaw (Montana State University), Margaret Bruchac (University of Pennsylvania), Matt Cohen (University of Texas, Austin), Nancy Farriss (University of Pennsylvania), Karen Graubart (University of Notre Dame), Byron Hamann (Ohio State University), Dana Leibsohn (Smith College), James Maffie (University of Maryland), Barbara Mundy (Fordham), Nancy van Deusen (Queen’s University), Birgit Brander Rasmussen (Yale University), David Silverman, (George Washington University), Molly Warsh  (University of Pittsburgh).

The conference is organized by the Early Americas Working Group and co-sponsored by the Kislak Family Foundation, George Washington University, University of Maryland, National History Center, and the Mexican Cultural Institute.

For questions, please contact conference co-organizers Ralph Bauer ( or Marcy Norton (

Monday, January 26, 2015

Workshop on Human-Animal Studies: Feb. 18 (plus other Feb. events)

February is a short month, but filled with exciting GW MEMSI events. On Friday February 13, Ania Loomba of the University of Pennsylvania will present a talk in Rome Hall 771 (801 22nd St NW) at 3 PM: "Crossing Boundaries: Race, Postcoloniality and the Early Modern." On Friday February 27, Heather Bamford, George Washington University, will present at our works in progress lunch (Rome Hall 771, 11:30 PM: precirculated paper).

AND on Wednesday February 18, the GW History Department and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute invite you to a Workshop on Human-Animal Studies:
“Noah’s Ark and Climate Change” (Jeffrey Cohen, English)
“Aping Humans: A History of Simian Actors from Blind Gew to Snooky the Humanzee” (Holly Dugan, English)
Moderated by Marcy Norton (History)
5:30 – 7 pm February 18
411 Phillips Hall (Academic Center, 801 22nd ST NW)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jonathan Hsy, "Ecolinguistics in Theory and Practice"

Please join us this Friday January 23 at 3 PM in Rome Hall 771 (801 22nd St NW) for GW's own Jonathan Hsy, "Ecolinguistics in Theory and Practice." Reception to follow. A description of the talk is below.

This presentation considers how medievalists can intervene in ecolinguistics, a burgeoning interdisciplinary field attending to the dynamic relationship between language and environment (physical and cultural). On a conceptual level, ecolinguistics rethinks implicit biological metaphors that ground disciplines of philology, linguistics, and literary study (linguistic “trees” and stemma); thinking about languages as mobile organisms rather than a rooted plants offers a more flexible approach to how languages behave in complex adaptive systems or transform over time. In this talk, I examine how medieval linguistic theory speaks to modern-day approaches to "language death" and indigenous language preservation. I also ask how ecoloinguistics alters our understanding of the "deep time" of linguistic origins and the animacies of language itself.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Rebecca Laroche: January 12 & 13

An invitation from Holly Dugan:

Dear MEMSI members,

I write to invite you to an informal lunch and coffee with Rebecca Laroche next Monday, January 12th and to hear her presentation on transcribing and coding archival recipes as part of the Early Modern Recipes Online Collective on Tuesday, January 13th at 4:15 (in my and Leah Chang's graduate course on early modern women writers in Rome 771).

Rebecca Laroche is Associate Professor of English at the University of Corado-Colorado Springs and the author of Medical Authority and Englishwomen's Herbal Texts, 1550- 1650 (Ashgate, 2008). She's also a founding member Early Modern Recipes Online (, which is part of the recipes project ( She's a tremendous (and inspiring) resource about women writers, archival research, and digital humanities, particularly on the role of gender in digital projects that deal with the past. I know that the start of the semester is a very busy time of year, but it should be a fascinating series of conversations. I hope you can join us.
Her visit to our campus is generously funded by GWU's Digital Humanities Institute and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute. 

Please email me ( if you'd like to attend lunch, coffee, or her presentation next week.

all best,
Holly Dugan

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gordon Braden, Suicide in the Third Person (January 29)

Please join us on Thursday January 29th for this co-sponsored event, and share the invitation with anyone who might be interested:
Emeritus Professor of English University of Virginia
Suicide in the Third Person:
How Shakespeare made his Romans Seem Roman

Thursday, January 29th
Media and Public Affairs Building 310 805 21st St. NW Washington DC (Foggy Bottom Metro)
Reception at 6:30 PM; Lecture at 7:00 PM Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the The George Washington University Dept. of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI)
For more information, contact

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Plagues, Witches, and War: A MOOC Postmortem

Burnable Book and Bruce Holsinger
Bruce Holsinger
(Fiction Writer and Professor of English, University of Virginia)
Sponsored by the GW Digital Humanities Institute, in coordination with
GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies InstituteEnglish, and Creative Writing
Date: Friday, December 5
Time: 7 PM (includes talk followed by Q&A)
Place: Marvin Center Amphitheater, George Washington University
Drawing from a case study at the University of Virginia, this lecture explores the controversies, university politics, and economic challenges surrounding the emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) over the last several years.
Bruce Holsinger is a fiction writer and literary scholar at the University of Virginia. His critically-acclaimed debut novel, A Burnable Book, and its forthcoming sequel, The Invention of Fire (William Morrow/HarperCollins), are set in the alleys and halls of medieval London. His nonfiction books have won major awards from the Modern Language Association, the Medieval Academy of America, and the American Musicological Society, and his research has been supported with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Musicological Society, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He appears regularly on National Public Radio and has written for The Washington Post, The NationThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications.
[Download the event flyer: PDF or Word]

NOTE: Prof. Holsinger also plans to meet informally with a group of students and faculty earlier in the day over lunch at 1pm in Rome 771 (food will be provided). Please email Prof. Jonathan Hsy (jhsy at gwu dot edu) if you'd like to reserve a spot (although please be aware that currently enrolled GW students will be given first priority).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monstrous Knowledge November 14: Two Events!

Please join us for two monstrous events, co-sponsored by the Graduate School Field Committee for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Maryland; the GW Department of Romance, German and Slavic Languages and Literatures; and GW MEMSI.
I. Seminar with Kathleen Perry Long, Asa Simon Mittman and Surekha Davies, 12 PM. Three essays for discussion will be circulated in advance and a light lunch will be provided. RSVP to by November 6 to reserve a spot and receive the readings.  
II.  Symposium: Monstrous Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe International Brotherhood of Teamsters Room, GWU Gelman Library 7th floor, 3 PM. Featuring:
Monstrous Knowledge in Early Modern France: The Case of Hermaphrodites(Kathleen Perry Long, Romance Studies, Cornell University) 
Monstrous Knowledge in Medieval England: The Case of Race (Asa Simon Mittman, Art and Art History, California State University, Chico) 
Monstrous Knowledge in the Age of Exploration: The Case of 'Imaginary' Monsters (Surekha Davies, History, Western Connecticut State University)