CFPs for MLA 2024 Middle English Forum sessions

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    Robert J. Meyer-Lee
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    @meyerlee

    Here are the CFPs for the Middle English Forum\’s two sessions, along with a third that\’s a collaborative session with the Chaucer Forum.

    Adapting Middle English Literature

    Organizers: Susan Nakley and Ruen-chuan

    This session invites us to consider how contemporary adaptations of Middle English literature contribute to the projects of teaching medieval literature and bringing it into contemporary public consumption. How do writers, playwrights, and directors produce new afterlives for Middle English literature as part of their projects, whether by reimagining medieval styles and genres in contemporary contexts, re-centering and valorizing the experiences of marginalized groups, or generating cultural commentary?

    Recent adaptations produced in response to Middle English and other medieval literatures showcase a rich range of creative possibilities: Carol Ann Duffy’s Everyman, David Herd’s Refugee Tales, Robert Gluck\’s Margery Kempe, Lauren Groff’s Matrix, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins\’s Everybody, Derek Jarman\’s The Garden, David Lowery\’s Green Knight, Alex Myers\’s Story of Silence, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, Zadie Smith’s Wife of Willesden, etc. These adaptations can help us rethink the interplay of critical methodologies and creative commentary in studying and teaching the past, especially since adaptations allow a wider range of audiences to identify with recurring themes in Middle English and other medieval literature and culture. What important generic, political or other differences do we see among the various adaptations, inspirations, translations and other contemporary medievalisms? What is at stake in taking or leaving old art as we make new meaning in the realm of arts and humanities now?

    Please send paper proposals to Susan Nakley, snakley@sjny.edu, and Ruen-chuan Ma, RMa@uvu.edu, by 17 March 2023.

    Transtemporal Methodologies in the Study of Late Medieval English Literature

    Organizers: Bobby Meyer-Lee and Claire Waters

    Several recent, celebrated studies of late medieval English literature present their anchoring motivations as including one or more twenty-first century activist concerns – for example, scholarship that considers Chaucer and rape culture, examines the medieval roots or affinities of contemporary white supremacy, thinks ecocritically about the medieval beyond-human, juxtaposes medieval political events with modern ones, etc. Methodologically, such studies have involved explicit interleaving of analysis of late medieval English literary texts with considerations of texts, events, or discourses of the present. This session is interested in how such methods might be theorized, systematized, or otherwise conceptually grounded – how we might explain what we are doing when we pursue such projects. Topics to consider include the relation between these methods of interleaving or juxtaposition and various historicisms of the 80s and 90s, the problem of historical alterity, the question of the value that late medieval English literature holds for present-day activism, the bearing of diachronic aesthetic theories such as Bakhtin’s or Benjamin’s, etc.

    Please send paper proposals to Bobby Meyer-Lee, meyerlee@aya.yale.edu, and Claire Waters, cmwaters@ucdavis.edu, by 17 March 2023.  

    Strange Heading: Post-Critique and the Medieval Book

    Organizers: Sherif Abdelkarim and Megan L. Cook

    Long: Recent work like George Edmondson’s The Neighboring Text or Seeta Chaganti’s Strange Footing models close engagement with medieval manuscripts that offers new modes of experiencing literature beyond the historically positivist, empirically material, or hermeneutically suspicious, either by recognizing the limitations of theoretical lenses or by approaching language beyond information. This session asks how looking at the character of the medieval text on the manuscript page–its calligraphy, titles, rubrics, initials, performance cues, polysemy–might allow us to consider anew readers’ encounters, medieval and modern, with that text. How did premodern people encounter strange texts, and how did the manuscript contexts and clues of those texts influence their encounter? What can we find if we look at the conjunction of material page and immaterial speculation, at the ways that letters and words invite an approach beyond that of reading for content?

    Please send paper proposals to Sherif Abdelkarim, abdelkar@grinnell.edu, and Megan L. Cook, mlcook@colby.edu, by 13 March 2023.

    This topic was also posted in: CLCS Arthurian, CLCS Medieval, LLC Chaucer, LLC Middle English.
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