CFP Gender in Global Medieval Mysticism

Proposals are invited for the conference “Gender in Global Medieval Mysticism”, to be held 20-21 March 2020, Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Liz Herbert McAvoy, Swansea University
  • Professor Sa’diyya Shaikh, University of Cape Town

The French theorist Luce Irigaray has called mysticism “the only place in the history of the West in which woman speaks and acts so publicly.” This capacity of mysticism to disrupt gender norms and established hierarchies — theological and political — by giving women a public voice extends across geographic regions. In a wide array of religious traditions– Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam–pre-modern women established private relationships with the divine. In doing so, they evaded patriarchal spiritual monopolies and laid claim to their own spiritual authority. Mysticism, a spiritual experience often associated with the private and the intimate, thus emerges as a gendered political mode.

While medieval women’s mystical visions differ widely across time, space and religious tradition, we also find striking points of convergence in the ways that women mystic exemplars translate their experience of intimacy with the divine. Early twentieth-century scholarship accounted for such commonalities by presuming a single mystical experience. However, this kind of comparativism has largely been rejected. Given these shifting grounds in comparative studies of mysticism, this conference asks: What are the points of intersection that emerge within studies of mysticism at the site of gender? What kind of dialogues can be forged within and across spiritual traditions, particularly between Europe and South Asia? How might inquiries into gender and mysticism open up political dimensions of mysticism that are often subsumed within the private, and how might they inform us about the entanglement of the public and private within the frameworks of pre-modern gender in the past as well as today?

This conference invites investigations of gender and mysticism in the medieval period that focus on either South Asia or Europe or take a comparative approach. Topics might include the following:

  • Women mystics
  • Theory and mysticism
  • Men speaking as women in mystical writings
  • Gender, Politics, and Mysticism
  • Comparative mysticism
  • Mystic scribes and spiritual authority
  • Mysticism & place
  • Spiritual influence
  • Friendship/Community
  • Mystical authority and political power
  • Queer phenomenology and mysticism
  • Mysticism and the body
  • Gender and South Asian Sufi-bhakti traditions
  • Gender, material culture, and mysticism
  • Mysticism and the vernacular
  • Gender, planetary emergency, and mysticism

Paper abstracts of no more than 250 words, plus one-page CV, should be sent to Abir Bazaz at abir.bazaz@ashoka.edu.in and Alexandra Verini at alexandra.verini@ashoka.edu.in no later than 1 October 2019.

Successful speakers will be notified shortly thereafter, and online pre-registration shall be open in November. Updates regarding the conference schedule, registration and accommodation details will be posted to http://gendermysticismconference.com/.

CFP Masculinities in the Premodern World

Proposals are invited for the conference “Masculinities in the Premodern World: Continuities, Change, and Contradictions” to be held 13-15 November 2020 at the University of Toronto, Canada.

The past twenty-five years have witnessed a burgeoning of studies on sexuality and gender in the premodern world. In particular, men and masculinities have received considerable attention. Building on the theoretical perspectives provided by feminism, Foucault, and cultural studies, the study of men and masculinities is increasingly theoretically inflected and sophisticated. Studies have encompassed questions pertaining to men of various social statuses, secular and ecclesiastical, as portrayed in historical, literary, philosophical, theological, and art historical sources among others.

This conference aims to locate the study of premodern men and masculinities in its current richness and complexity. Our plenary speakers will be two of the most important scholars in the area of medieval/early modern masculinities: Patricia Simons (University of Michigan) and Patricia Cullum (University of Huddersfield, UK).

Papers are invited on all areas of study across the premodern world (500 to 1650 CE), crossing Europe’s religious and linguistic diversity, and encompassing its geographical breadth and beyond. Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • concepts of virility,
  • patriarchy, marriage, fatherhood and procreative masculinities,
  • social and political perspectives,
  • medical and biological perceptions,
  • celibacy, chastity, continence,
  • monastic and clerical masculinity,
  • sexual function and dysfunction,
  • queer and non-binary masculinities,
  • typologies of premodern men,
  • masculinity and physical prowess; sports and athletics
  • depictions of masculinity in literature and the arts

Proposals are invited for individual papers, panels, roundtables, and alternatives to traditional academic presentation models.

To submit a proposal, please include: speaker’s name and academic affiliation (or “independent scholar” as applicable); the title of the presentation; a 150-word abstract; full contact information (mailing address, telephone, email); and a one-page CV. In the case of proposals for complete sessions, this information must be provided for each presenter and the chair (if proposed).

Proposals should be emailed in Word format to both conference organizers:
Prof. Jacqueline Murray jacqueline.murray@uoguelph.ca
Prof. Konrad Eisenbichler at konrad.eisenbichler@utoronto.ca

Deadline for submission: 15 November 2019

CFP Pfaff at Fifty: New Devotions and Religious Change in Later Medieval England

Originally published in 1970, Richard W. Pfaff’s New Liturgical Feasts in Later Medieval England
fundamentally changed the way humanities scholars thought and wrote about English religious development in the long fifteenth century. Pfaff asked important questions about the
process by which the new devotions that focused on Christ and the Virgin entered the liturgy in England and how a liturgical feast was ‘promulgated — at all the levels to make it effective — or accepted’. Moreover, he emphasised the gradual pace of liturgical change and its different stages.

Pfaff explored the relationship between liturgical and extra-liturgical devotions; demonstrated the variation in the pace and extent of regional, local and institutional change; and promoted the idea of the push and pull of popular demand for change in place of the traditional notion of
official promulgation from above. Most importantly, even though he was a liturgical scholar with deep, specialised knowledge of the material evidence and an intense insight into the practice of the period, Pfaff opened study of the cultural impact of these devotions to scholars of many adjacent fields. It is in honour of this wide sowing that we now gather, fifty years
on, to reap and to share.

New Liturgical Feasts documented a process of increased elaboration and enhancement in
fifteenth-century English liturgy that would have profoundly impacted the experience of church-
going parishioners throughout the realm. Pfaff saw this as evidence of ‘liturgical vitality’ rather than of ‘an over-complicated and decadent system which was shortly to collapse through its own burdensomeness’ (p. 131). He called for scholars interested in ‘the whole of later medieval spirituality’ to consider both private devotion and ‘what goes on in the church’ (p. 132).

In the five decades since 1970, we have witnessed a very considerable flourishing of research —
conducted across many disciplines — on a wide range of aspects of late medieval religious life.
These include, among others, lay piety, the importance of gender in shaping religious belief and practice, religious observance in parish and cathedral churches, the religious orders, saints’ cults, mysticism, devotional reading, the material culture of religion, and heterodoxy and heresy. Pfaff’s pioneering study opened new pathways and provided a new impetus for scholars to explore religious culture as a whole in all its variety. As a result, fifty years after NLF’s publication, we have a much greater appreciation of the vitality, as well as the complexity, of late medieval religion.

‘Pfaff at Fifty’ will take place at the University of Nottingham, 2-3 July 2020. The conference aims to take stock of the enduring legacy of New Liturgical Feasts by reconsidering the important questions that this touchstone book raised. We invite abstracts that address the themes,  questions, and implications of Pfaff’s book in the light of new research. We encourage submissions from scholars working in any relevant discipline or field, including history, theology, art history, literary studies, archaeology, gender studies, musicology, and manuscript studies.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short biographical note to either of the email addresses listed below by 1 October 2019.

Dr Benjamin Barootes
Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies, Toronto
 
Dr Rob Lutton
University of Nottingham
 
The full call for papers can be downloaded below.

Job opportunity: Professor of English, Australia National University

Australia National University is seeking to appoint a Professor of English in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics. The ANU School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics (SLLL) was established in 2014, uniting key areas of expertise in literary, language, and cultural studies. SLLL seeks to advance knowledge in these fields through conducting world-leading research, by providing an outstanding education experience for undergraduate, postgraduate and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students, and by engaging with secondary schools, public events such as literature and film festivals, embassies and with other cultural, government and non-government institutions.

In addition to programs in literary studies, gender and cultural studies, linguistics and modern European, Classical and Indigenous Australian languages, the School is home to the Centre for Classical Studies, the Australian National Dictionary Centre, the ARC Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language, and the Institute for Communication in Healthcare.

As a multidisciplinary School we have vibrant and mixed seminar programs which host both national and international speakers. We run numerous events, often in collaboration with ANU’s Humanities Research Centre, which was established in 1972 as a centre for innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship and has hosted many of the world’s leading humanities scholars.

ANU is ranked as the top University in Australia for Humanities and Social Sciences. Literature, Languages and Linguistics were all ranked 4 or 5 (‘above world standard’, or ‘well-above world standard’) in the ERA research assessment exercise.

The Professor of English in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics is a crucial position in leading and delivering successful research and educational leadership and strategic direction, consistent with the strategic plans of CASS and the ANU. The Professor will be responsible for research and educational leadership, and for shaping the strategic direction of English, consistent with the strategic plans of SLLL, CASS and the ANU.

A full job description and application instructions can be downloaded below.

Applications close 6 October 2019.

Download (PDF, 2.47MB)

CFP How to do things with early modern words

Paper and panel proposals are invited for the conference ‘How to do things with early modern words: Interdisciplinary opportunities, dialogues, perspectives and methodologies’. The conference will take place at Loughborough University, UK, 23-25 April 2020.

2020 will see the publication of the first two volumes of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn. Editing Aphra Behn’s remarkable oeuvre has involved the collaboration of an international and interdisciplinary team of scholars, drawing on expertise from across the humanities. ‘How to do things with early modern words’, a three-day conference to mark the 350th anniversary of the start of Behn’s public career, aims to celebrate and develop interdisciplinary approaches to early modern studies. Bringing together researchers working in all fields represented within the edition, including literature, history, theatre history, language, and digital humanities, between 1500 and 1750, the conference will explore current, cutting-edge themes, perspectives and methods in scholarship on the early modern world.

Proposals for either individual 20-minute papers or complete panels (comprising 3 or 4 papers) should be submitted to EMWords@gmail.com by 23 September 2019.

Papers which explore interdisciplinary approaches to early modern scholarship, or which address the challenges represented by digital technology, conceptual advances, or new archival discoveries (either within or across disciplines) are especially welcome. We encourage discussions of projects at initial or early stages of development for 10-minute Pecha Kucha presentations, and other formats of presentation and discussion are also invited.

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Parergon 36.1 preview: Mealtimes and authority in the Book of Margery Kempe

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Hwanhee Park, assistant professor at the Department of English Language and Literature at Kyung Hee University, South Korea, talks about “Mealtime Sanctity: the Social and Devotional Functions of Mealtimes in The Book of Margery Kempe” (DOI:10.1353/pgn.2019.0002).

My research focuses on the literature of late medieval England, particularly texts written about or by women that deal with education and self-development. I focus on women negotiating and manipulating their surroundings to aim for greater power and acknowledgement. In that process, I argue, establishing an outwardly visible characters of authority for others to see and accept becomes important — perhaps even more important than the actual interior virtues.

Margery Kempe was well aware of the importance of such visible characters of authority. As a secular woman/mystic who never bothered to remove the slash in between, she was in a tricky position to be acknowledged as a religious authority, either officially or by popular agreement. But she could find ways to make the social norms and expectations of her time — such as mealtimes and their social functions — work for her unconventional circumstances.

My article reassesses the mealtime scenes in The Book of Margery Kempe and argues that mealtimes enable Margery Kempe to claim greater spiritual authority by providing a public space for showcasing her devotion. I got the idea for this article as I was attempting to develop a previous article on Margery Kempe I had written in 2014. In that paper, I argued that Margery Kempe utilizes the ideal womanhood described in conduct books to add to her authority. Since conduct books deal with eating habits and behaviors (to such an extent that a well-known conduct book, Le Ménagier de Paris, has a huge section on meal planning and recipes added to it), I thought that the few but memorable depictions of mealtimes in The Book of Margery Kempe deserved special attention. As I revisited the text, I realized that the mealtimes are important as a stage for performing what her society deemed as good manners. Since medieval mealtimes demonstrate social hierarchy and a sense of community and harmony, Margery could use them as a stage to assert her position within the orthodox circle at a time of religious dissent.

I’m continuing my research on medieval women establishing spiritual authority by making themselves visible to the public eye. My current project goes back to the thirteenth century and to Ancrene Wisse, a guidebook for beginner anchoresses. I argue that the anchoress’s maidservants are essential in making the anchoress an authoritative figure, because of their labour made visible to the local community. This project will expand to a larger one focusing on women’s social labour in medieval England. In that, I hope to return to Margery Kempe and her fascinating career again.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

 

Call for Proposals: Parergon Special Issues 2022

The journal Parergon, in print since 1971, regularly produces one open issue and one themed issue annually. Recent and forthcoming themed issues include:

  • 2018, 35.2 Translating Medieval Cultures Across Time and Space: A Global Perspective, guest-edited by Saher Amer, Esther S. Klein, and Helene Sirantoine
  • 2019, 36.2 Practice, Performance, and Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Cultural Heritage, guest-edited by Jane-Heloise Nancarrow and Alicia Marchant
  • 2020, 37.2 Foreign Bodies: The Exotic, the monstrous, and the medical in early modern art in Melbourne, guest-edited by Anne Dunlop and Cordelia Warr
  • 2021, 38.2 Children and War, guest-edited by Katie Barclay, Dianne Hall and Dolly Mackinnon

We now call for proposals for future themed issues, specifically for 2022 (39.2). Themed issues contain up to ten essays, plus the usual reviews section. The guest editor is responsible for setting the theme and drawing up the criteria for the essays.

Proposals should be submitted by 1 October 2019 to the Editor, Susan Broomhall at susan.broomhall@uwa.edu.au

The detailed call, including information on proposal requirements, timelines and the editorial process, can be downloaded below.

Parergon publishes articles on all aspects of medieval and early modern studies, from early medieval through to the eighteenth century, and including the reception and influence of medieval and early modern culture in the modern world. We are particularly interested in research which takes new approaches and crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Parergon asks its authors to achieve international standards of excellence. Articles should be substantially original, advance research in the field, and have the potential to make a significant contribution to the critical debate.

Parergon has an Open Access policy. Authors retain their own copyright, rather than transferring it to Parergon/ANZAMEMS; and can make the “accepted version” of their article freely available on the Web.

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Medical diagnosis of demonic possession

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Brendan Walsh talks about Judith Bonzol’s important 2009 article, “The Medical Diagnosis of Demonic Possession in an Early Modern English Community,” which appeared in Parergon 26.1 (https://doi.org/10.1353/pgn.0.0132)

Judith Bonzol’s article highlights the application of medical diagnosis in the 1604 demonic possession case of Anne Gunther. Demonic possession in the early modern period was often attributed to three main causes: genuine possession, natural illnesses, or fraud. Yet, it is with the possession of Anne Gunther that the notion of genuine possession was placed under considerable scrutiny in England. The Gunther case was at the forefront of a marked shift in early modern Reformed Protestant demonology, a shift that placed emphasis on establishing natural causation for seemingly demonic illnesses. Bonzol illustrates how Gunther’s possession was scrutinized by the ecclesiastical elite and dismissed as natural in origin through the use of medical diagnosis. Furthermore, this article delves into the complex social factors at play in the Gunther case, outlining how the influence of familial and community relationships, particularly between physicians and patients, shaped how spirit possession manifested.

The Anne Gunther possession emerged in the aftermath of the John Darrell Controversy. In 1598/99, the Puritan exorcist John Darrell (1562-?) was convicted on multiple charges of fraud by the High Commission. Fronted by Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift; the Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft; along with his chaplain, Samuel Harsnett, the High Commission ruled that Darrell had engaged in fraudulent exorcisms and stripped him of his ministry. These churchmen would usher in a period of demonological scepticism within the Church of England, leading to the introduction of ecclesiastical reform concerning witchcraft and demonic possession. The possession of Anne Gunther was one such example in which these reforms would be enacted, while also highlighting the role that physicians played in these instances.

The significance of the Gunther case was that it set the precedent for how medical diagnosis could be used to dismiss seemingly demonic illnesses. During her possession, Gunther experienced a series of strange convulsions, attacks of blindness, deafness, and fearful visions. She foamed at the mouth, abstained from taking food for long periods of time, and could describe actions performed in other rooms or how much money an individual held in their purse. As was the case with suspected demonic illnesses, medical experts were called in to examine the patient. This was at the behest of Anne’s father Brian Gunther, a man of high social-standing in the local community. Initially, physicians agreed with the Gunther patriarch that his daughter was possessed. However, this diagnosis may have simply been due to the family’s social standing. As Bonzol states, “physicians at this time were desperate to establish themselves as superior to their numerous medical rivals, and while their number included some of the best-educated secular men in England, their social status was not particularly high. In their struggle for respectability, acceptance, and social status, the physicians in the Gunter case may have thought it expedient simply to tell their client what he wanted to hear” (133). However, once the Church of England became aware of the situation, medical diagnosis would be used to challenge (and eventually dismiss) Gunther’s previously accepted possession.

I first became aware of Judith Bonzol’s work through my own research into the John Darrell Controversy. Within the scholarship on early modern demonology, this article makes effective use of the Gunther case in examining the cultural factors surrounding medical diagnosis and spirit possession in early modern England. Bonzol has written extensively on the nature of supernatural illnesses in the early modern English context. I had the pleasure of meeting Judith as an PhD student at ANZAMEMS 2017 in Wellington, and then presenting alongside her as a recent doctoral graduate at ANZAMEMS 2019 in Sydney. For any reader interested in early modern medicine, demonology, or ecclesiastical politics, this article serves as an insightful and engaging piece of scholarship.

Dr Brendan Walsh is a researcher in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

2020 Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship book prize

The SMFS Book Committee is now accepting submissions for the 2020 First Book of Feminist Scholarship on the Middle Ages. We are soliciting submissions of first monographs in any area of medieval studies. Nominated books should represent the best first monographs of feminist medieval scholarship published AND with a copyright date in 2018 or 2019.

The prize (an award of US$500), will be announced in the US spring, and formally awarded at the SMFS reception at the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress next May. Self-nominations are acceptable; presses may nominate more than one title.

Please arrange for TWO copies (preferably paper copies) of each nominated book to be sent to SMFS President, Dr. Linda Mitchell, at the address below, along with a letter of application that summarises the book’s merits and its contribution to feminist scholarship.

The deadline for nominations and receipt of books to be considered is Friday, 18 October 2019. Please note that if your book is copyrighted for 2020, you should wait for the next iteration of this contest, in two years.

Please send all submissions to:

Dr. Linda Mitchell
7559 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO 64114
USA

If you have an e-book version of your book available to send, please make sure that it can be duplicated so that everyone on the committee is able to read the book, and that it is not owner- or password-protected. Please also remember that sending proofs of a book that is as yet unpublished might be a violation of copyright law, so if that is what you have available, you must check with the publisher to make sure that the use of the proofs for the purposes of the prize contest is acceptable to them.

Please also note that the SMFS Advisory Board’s Book Committee has limited numbers of members with fluency in (modern) languages other than English, so if you are interested in submitting a monograph in a language other than English please do send a query BEFORE sending the book.

Parergon 36.1 preview: Acculturation and Anglo-Moroccon encounters, 1625-84.

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Rickie Lette, who recently completed his PhD in history at the University of Tasmania, talks about his piece, “John Harrison: A Case Study of the Acculturation of an Early Modern Briton” (doi:10.1353/pgn.2019.0005).

My current research interests are principally focussed on the personal and wider cultural and social effects of encounter and exchange between Europeans and non-Europeans from the late medieval to early modern periods, with a particular emphasis on Christian-Muslim relations. My doctoral thesis reappraises the engagement of Britons with Moroccans between 1625 and 1684, examining not only the influence that their personal experiences had on their attitudes and sense of self-identity, but also on Anglo-Moroccan relations more generally during this formative period of English imperial development. It was a subject that combined my interest in inter-cultural relations and a country which had fascinated me from my first visit. And, it also provided scope for a challenging project through which I could, hopefully, make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field.

North Africa, and the wider Mediterranean region, played important roles in England’s development as an imperial power, contributions which have largely been overlooked. While increasing attention has been given to the consequences of cultural interaction of Europe’s imperial expansion, like a number of other scholars working in this area, I believe that to properly historicise the resulting interactions and understand their impact it is necessary to move beyond generalisations and simplistic binary perspectives, and examine these encounters more closely at the level of the individuals who were directly involved. Doing so helps reveal a much more complex reality in which traditional prejudices were frequently challenged and new ideas and perspectives emerged. The case study of John Harrison, with which the article is concerned, embodies the approach I adopted in the wider study and some of its key general findings.

One distinctive aspect of my recent work has been my use of theories, methodologies and studies from other disciplines including literary criticism and anthropology. In particular, I have found the phenomenon of personal acculturation as expounded in cultural psychology a useful concept which can help provide novel insights into the nature and consequences of historical encounters between European and non-European peoples. Such analysis reveals that the socio-political conditions which existed in Morocco in the early seventeenth century not only affected diplomatic and commercial relations with England — which has already been studied by others — but they also had the potential to deeply impact the perceptions and responses of Britons who sojourned there. These insights assist our understanding of the broader dynamics and cultural impacts of encounter.

The article is the first published output arising from my doctoral thesis. Over the next eighteen months, I hope to publish one or two other essays as well as a monograph based on this work.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/