Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seminar on Claustrophilia: Registration OPEN

Registration is now open for the November 13 seminar on Cary Howie's Claustrophilia. You should have read the book to attend. The seminar takes place from 3-5 on the GW campus. Please email Lowell Duckert ( right away to secure your space.

Details about the seminar are here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

CFP: Bring Out Your Dead!

“Bring Out Your Dead”: Memento Mori and the Work of Remembrance in the Middle Ages

Keynote Speaker: D. Vance Smith, Princeton University

The Medievalists @ Penn Group (M@P) invites submissions for their second annual graduate conference in Medieval Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, February 5-6, 2010. All abstracts (max. 300 words) must be received by December 4th 2009. Please send all submissions electronically to

The Middle Ages is often characterized by that defining calamity, the Black Death. As Boccaccio makes clear in the opening of his Decameron, set during the plague in Florence, death can be both a disruption of social norms and daily practice as well as a regenerative, narrative force. Always anticipating that messianic moment to come, the medieval mindset is often characterized by a preoccupation with death and dying. This infectious motif pervades cultural expressions, from religious thought to the production of visual and textual artwork, as well as works in music, philosophy, historiography and beyond. This year's theme, memento mori, also asks us to consider how we can reconceptualize the ideas of beginning and ending, and the cycles of production, repetition, and memory that characterize our period. What can we “bring out” of this long-ranging topos that will help illuminate the vibrancy of medieval culture and provide new directions for our ever-changing field?

Our conference invites submissions concerning one or more formulations of the idea of memento mori. Proposals might look straightforwardly to death and its accoutrements during the medieval period or begin to interrogate and theorize the function of death, dying, and memory as it comes to bear on our field. As per our group's mission, we seek to assemble a plurality of perspectives from across all fields of study in recognition of the profound interdisciplinarity of our common object of inquiry: the Middle Ages.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

- Graves, tombs, and relics
- Plague
- Translatio imperii, death of temporal realms
- Chanceries and requiems
- Eulogies and laments, both literary and musical
- Medieval memoria
- Histories, chronicles and Fall of Princes
- War, Crusade, and genocide
- Wills, bequests, and other documents of the dead
- Execution, excommunication and legal death
- Periodization and the Medieval-Renaissance divide
- Medievalism and the “undead” Middle Ages

Mission Statement: Medievalists @ Penn (M@P) is a reading group run by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. The group is comprised of members from departments across the School of Arts and Sciences (French, Music, Spanish, English, German, and Art History among others). Readings consist of primary and secondary texts chosen from among our various experiences and expertise, agreed upon each semester by the current participants. Our purpose is to foster discussion and interaction among students and scholars of all aspects of the Middle Ages and to provide mutual support for the development of a broad interdisciplinary understanding of Medieval culture.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Claustrophilic Seminar 11/13

Please suspend all superstitions and attend our upcoming seminar on Cary Howie's book Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature on Friday, November 13th.The event takes place from 3-5 PM in Rome Hall 771 (located at 801 22nd St. NW).

Participants should read the book beforehand.

Registration is limited and opens October 26. Please email me at to reserve a spot.

More info about our panelists:

Cary Howie is Assistant Professor of French Literature at Cornell University. Claustrophilia was published by Palgrave in 2007. His most recent project is Sanctity and Pornography in Medieval Culture: On the Verge, co-authored with William Burgwinkle (Manchester, forthcoming in 2009). His recent interests include medieval hagiography and mysticism, theology and literature, anachronism, the senses, and queer studies.

Eileen Joy is Associate Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Co-founder and lead ingenitor of The BABEL Working Group, she also posts on In The Middle. Recent book projects include Cultural Studies of the Modern Middle Ages, ed. Eileen Joy, Myra Seaman, Kimberly Bell, and Mary Ramsey (Palgrave, 2007); and The Postmodern Beowulf, ed. Eileen Joy and Mary Ramsey (West Virginia UP, 2007). She and Myra Seaman are currently editing a new journal in medieval studies slated for 2010 titled postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies.

Jeffrey Masten is Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at Northwestern University. He writes about and teaches English Renaissance literature and culture, drama, the history of sexuality and gender, queer theory, textual editing, and the history and theory of authorship. He has written Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (Cambridge, 1997) and is currently writing a book entitled Spelling Shakespeare, and Other Essays in Queer Philology. Masten is the co-editor of the journal Renaissance Drama (Northwestern UP).

Madhavi Menon is Associate Professor of English at American University. In addition to irregularly teaching a class called Shakesqueer, Professor Menon also teaches classes on queer theory, literary theory, Renaissance literature, and drama. Recent publications include Shakesqueer: The Queer Companion to The Complete Works of Shakespeare (forthcoming from Duke UP, 2010); Unhistorical Shakespeare: Queer Theory in Shakespearean Literature and Film (Palgrave, 2008); and Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004).

Patrick R. O'Malley is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University with teaching and research interests in Nineteenth-Century British literature and culture, gender and sexuality, the Gothic novel, religion and literature, Irish and Anglo-Irish history and literature, and literary theory. "Catholicism, Sexual Deviance, and Victorian Gothic Culture" was published by Cambridge UP in 2006. In addition, he has published articles and essays on Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Sydney Owenson, and John Henry Newman. He is currently working on a book about the representation of history in the works of nineteenth-century Irish Protestants.

Michael Snediker is Assistant Professor of English at Queen’s College. He is interested in poetry/poetics, 19th- and 20th-century literature, American Renaissance, modernism, aesthetics, Henry James, literature and temporality, queer theory, and disability theory. His book Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions was published by University of Minnesota Press in 2008. Forthcoming publications include “The Hawthornian Acoustic” (ESQ) and “Pierre and the Non-Transparencies of Figuration” (ELH). He also has a collection of poetry, Nervous Pastoral, published by Dove/tail Press in 2008.

Karl Steel is Assistant Professor of English at Brooklyn College. His specializations include medieval literature, intellectual history, and social practice; posthumanism; medieval discourses and practices about the boundaries between humans and animals. Of his many forthcoming publications: "How Delicious We Must Be / Symphytic Gowther," in Fragments for a History of a Vanishing Humanism, eds, Eileen A. Joy, Betsy McCormick, and Myra J. Seaman (Ohio UP, 2009); "Number There in Love Was Slain," in Shakesqueer, ed. Madhavi Menon (Duke UP, 2009). (Books and Publications: Forthcoming Publications); and "Woofing and Weeping with Animals in the Last Days," postmedieval 1 (2010). He also posts on In the Middle.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Added: Daniel Vitkus, December 4

Daniel Vitkus will talk about his pre-circulated paper "Anglo-Islamic Exchange and the Origins of Modernity" at a breakfast seminar on Friday December 4.

Professor Vitkus is an associate professor at Florida State University. He researches travel literature, Renaissance drama, texts that journey across cultures, and early modern England. Publications include:
  • Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England (Columbia UP, 2000), ed.
  • Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (Columbia UP, 2001), ed.
  • Turning Turk: English Theater and the Multicultural Mediterranean, 1570-1630 (Palgrave, 2003).
He is currently at work on a project entitled Islam and the English Renaissance.

Upcoming Events

  1. October 23: Gina Bloom, lunch seminar: "'What's Trumps?'" Onstage Gaming and the Epistemology of Male Friendship" (pre-circulated). English Department seminar room, Rome Hall 771 @ 11:30 AM. Lunch will be provided.
  2. October 26: Registration opens for the Seminar on Cary Howie's Claustrophilia. You should have read the book to register and attend.
  3. November 13: Seminar on Claustrophilia. English Department seminar room, Rome Hall 771@ 3 PM.
  4. December 4 @ 9 AM: Daniel Vitkus, "Anglo-Islamic Exchange and the Origins of Modernity (precirculated). Breakfast will be provided. English Department seminar room, Rome Hall 771.
  5. December 10: book launch celebration for Leah Chang, Into Print: The Production of Female Authorship in Early Modern France. English Department seminar room, Rome Hall @ 2 PM.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Do You Think?

I was rather fond of the graphic we used for our first GW MEMSI seminar, on Messianic Time and the Untimely. I just put this together for the second, an all star confab on Cary Howie's amazing book Claustrophilia.

What do you think? Is it too much? Should someone revoke the graphic design license that I clearly do not possess?

The image, if you are wondering, is a bolted anchorite window from Saint Mary's, Brook, Kent. The frame and matte are added, and fake: I was trying to recall Anglo-Saxon illustration framing but with a more modern, museum-like vibe.

Comments welcome here on our GW MEMSI Facebook page.

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson @ GW Oct 23

This is not exactly a medieval or early modern topic, but disability studies actually has a burgeoning place within both. Would you please share this link with anyone who might be interested, and please consider coming yourself?

Friday October 23
5 PM
Marvin Center Continental Ballroom
800 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson
delivers the inaugural GW English Distinguished Lecture in Literary and Cultural Studies
"The Gas Chamber and the Metro: Space, Mobility and Disability"

Introduction by José Muñoz, Wang Visiting Professor of Contemporary English Literature
University welcome by President Steven Knapp

Free and open to all who wish to attend

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CFP: "New Worlds" Graduate Conference


“New Worlds: Cross-Cultural Exchange East and West”

Graduate Conference in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

April 17, 2010

University of Maryland, College Park

Keynote speaker: Bruce Holsinger, Professor of English and Music, University of Virginia

The Department of English at the University of Maryland and the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute at George Washington University invite graduate students from across the humanities to submit presentation abstracts for “New Worlds,” a one-day conference to be held on April 17, 2010.

The “New Worlds” conference will examine various European responses to encounters with people, culture, and lands to the east and the west, as reflected in medieval and early modern literature, art, and music. “New Worlds” aims to elucidate the shifts that these new interactions precipitated in various European philosophies, epistemologies, and perceptions. We intend this theme to be defined broadly, to open up intellectual possibilities, and to offer a broad geographic and cultural scope in keeping with, and advancing, current and emergent scholarly conversations.

Participants might consider a range of approaches to the conference’s topic of cross-cultural exchange, including:

  • What kinds of “New Worlds” were medieval and early modern people encountering?
  • How did “New World” encounters shape literature, culture, politics, religion, philosophy, and science, and how did cultural and geographic newness figure as a force for change in European cultures and states?
  • In what unique ways did Mediterranean and Eastern European countries, which represented cultural crossing-points between West and East, respond to European encounters with American New Worlds? How did these responses differ from the arguably more isolated position of England? Or, alternatively, did they differ?
  • How might a broader understanding of “New Worlds” complicate the bifurcated focus on East/West relations in past scholarship of the medieval and early modern periods?
  • What roles do empire, colonization, and nationhood play in “New World” encounters?

Abstracts of 400-500 words for 20-minute papers related to the conference theme should be emailed to no later than January 15, 2010. Accepted abstracts will be posted on the conference website.

Friday, October 2, 2009