News & CFPs

Call for Papers: International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo 2019

The Early Middle English Society is sponsoring two sessions this year. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by email to Carla María Thomas (email below), along with a Participant Information Form, by the deadline of September 15.

1) Thirteenth-Century Vernaculars

Much discussion of vernacularity, vernaculars, and multilingualism in Medieval English scholarship tends to center on the late Middle English cultural milieu of Chaucer and Gower. This panel seeks to provide an alternative view of this narrative by inviting presenters to think not only about the various vernaculars used in England in the thirteenth century—English, French, Welsh, Danish, Hebrew, and more—but also the vernaculars interacting with those in England from without and to reconsider the definition of vernacularity itself. How can we open the discourse on vernacularity in and around England so that it moves beyond the current isolated debates and bring them in conversation with one another?

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
• Multilingualism
• Translation theory and practice
• Defining vernacularity
• Dialects as vernaculars
• Diachronic and synchronic approaches
• Language contacts, exchanges, influences
• Manuscript contexts/readings

2) Conceptions of Death and Dying in Early Medieval Literature

Early Middle English poetry, c. 1100-1350, is filled with debates between bodies and souls, descriptions of ghastly bodily decay, and moralizations that come from beyond the grave in order to encourage medieval readers to meditate on and contemplate death and dying. The theme of the macabre is prominent, too, in the homiletic material of the period. For much of this literature, in homilies and poetry alike, the meditations are meant to steer the reader to (or back onto) the Christian path, stressing such motifs as fear of the Last Judgment, ubi sunt laments, and the importance of confession. Other texts like the late twelfth-century poem “The Grave,” however, are simply short meditations on death and the confines of the grave without moralization. Why was this theme so popular in didactic and secular literature? This panel invites papers that provide insight on these various writings from scholars working on new research.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
• Representations in lyric poetry
• Representations in homiletic material
• Investigations of manuscript context
• Multilingual literary production
• Secular and religious readership and reception
• Engagement with new theological ideas
• Textual influences, sources, or analogues
• Preoccupation with purgatory and the afterlife

Please send abstracts and PIFs to by September 15, 2018. Please include your name, affiliation (if applicable), and email address on the abstract. Also email me if you have any questions!


Call for Papers: International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo 2018

The Early Middle English Society is sponsoring three sessions this year. Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by email to the organizers (listed after each panel description), along with a Participant Information Form, by the extended deadline of Saturday, September 30.

I. Reexamining Digby 86
As Marilyn Corrie observed twenty years ago, Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 86 is “undoubtedly one of the most important” manuscripts of the Early Middle English period. A trilingual household manuscript compiled near the end of the thirteenth century, Digby 86 contains a wide range of materials including medical recipes, charms, religious instruction, debate poetry, fabliaux, and the earliest surviving English beast fable. In recognition of the recent increased interest in this manuscript (exemplified by a forthcoming volume, Manuscript Digby 86: Devotion, Science and Literary Diversions for a Worcestershire Household, c. 1280, edited by Susanna Fein), the Early Middle English Society invites papers addressing any aspect of Digby 86, including its texts, languages, material form, and relations with other manuscripts. We particularly welcome papers that reexamine this manuscript in light of new scholarly methods and critical discussions in medical humanities, animal studies, ecocriticism, lyric, aesthetics, and prosody.

Organizer: Marjorie Harrington,

II. Cosmopolitan, Vernacular, Multilingualism, and Early Middle English
The recent work of Mediterranean Studies and particularly the discussion by Karla Mallette and Suzanne Conklin Akbari on the subject of philology and the issues around the cosmopolitan, the cosmopolitan vernacular, and Mediterranean philology and literature is an entry point for this session to rethink multilingualism and the c. 1100-1350 situation of multilingual literary production in the British Isles. This session will consider how does the cosmopolitan and vernacular in this historical function in regards to the rampant multilingualism of the period’s manuscripts?

Organizer: Dorothy Kim,

III. Error and Corrections in Early Middle English Manuscripts
This session will address the topic of error and corrections in Early Middle English manuscripts and what they tell us about reception studies and an ecosystem of transhistorical readers of these manuscripts. Note that “Early Middle English” manuscripts include those written and/or compiled in England between 1100 and 1350. These manuscripts are also often multilingual so papers are not limited to discussions of texts written in Early Middle English specifically but are open to any language represented in an Early Middle English compilation. The papers can range from a discussion of Orm’s meticulous correction errors with vellum strips that he sewed on himself in MS Junius 1 to Matthew Parker’s red corrections and/or marginalia in the Corpus Christi College MS 402 copy of the Ancrene Wisse and beyond. What do the errors and corrections in Early Middle English manuscripts tell us about the reception of these manuscripts and the desires of readers, medieval and/or postmedieval?

Organizer: Carla María Thomas,


Call for Papers: International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo 2016

“‘Hit iseie aboc iwrite’: Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Devotional Manuscripts,” sponsored by the Early Middle English Society

The Early Middle English Society invites paper proposals for our session, “‘Hit iseie aboc iwrite’: Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Devotional Manuscripts.” Vernacular texts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in England often fall in the gap between the two major fields of literary study, Old English and Middle English. While these texts have begun to receive the scholarly attention they deserve, religious and devotional texts are too often marginalized as not “literary.”

We invite paper proposals that work to situate twelfth- and thirteenth-century devotional texts in their manuscript context, allowing us to assess these texts’ authorship, intended readership, use, and reuse. Manuscript studies often engage with questions of “use,” and Claire M. Waters’s presentation at Kalamazoo 2015 asked us to consider the way that medieval religious literature joins utilitarian and aesthetic aims. The question of “use” might prove to be a valuable organizing principle for this session, encompassing the didactic goals of devotional texts, the assemblage of newer and older devotional materials in miscellanies, and the way in which authors, scribes, and illuminators shape manuscript content to suit a particular audience. We are interested in a wide range of approaches to manuscript studies, including paleographical and codicological examinations of script, illumination, layout, and versification, as well as explorations of manuscripts’ orientation to space, place, and local identity.

According to our mission statement, the Early Middle English Society “seeks to promote the study and scholarly discussion of English literary and cultural production from the Norman Conquest to the mid-fourteenth century, especially in relation to the two areas that book-end ours: the Anglo-Saxon period and the Middle English period after the plague.” As a result, we invite proposals that explore how Early Middle English manuscripts relate to Anglo-Saxon and later Middle English literary and religious culture. In this session, we also strongly encourage papers that discuss non-English vernacular languages and their manuscripts, including Anglo-Norman and Celtic languages.

Please submit an abstract and Participant Information Form to Jenny C. Bledsoe (Emory University) at by September 15, 2015.

Upcoming Events at the Medieval and Renaissance Center (follow on Twitter @nyumarc and like on Facebook) at New York University:

Lecture Series Spring 2015 PosterSpring 2015 Events Calendar

Great News!
Cotton MS Vitellius A XV, also known as the Beowulf Manuscript or the Nowell Codex, is now available to be viewed online for the first time! Check it out!

Call for Papers: The Ninth Annual Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium Graduate Conference
New York University
April 4-5, 2013
Keynote by Asa Mittman (California State University, Chico) on April 4
Conference on April 5


Scholars inside and outside of Anglo-Saxon studies have begun to question anthropocentric views of the world. New paradigms suggest that the boundaries among humans, animals, and things are not a priori and absolute; Giorgio Agamben, for instance, writes in The Open: Man and Animal that the division between human and animal is a division within the human (which is also animal) that makes possible the very concept of the human; in the last two decades, work on cyborgs showed that humans and things could also share identities. Scholars have also begun to make room for the existence of animals and things outside of human signification and identification; those in animal studies have alerted us to the suffering of animals, while proponents of thing theory tell us that things have their own forms of being, their own capabilities, and even (perhaps) affects proper to them. Karl Steel, Susan Crane, and Bruce Holsinger are only a few scholars who have taken up these difficult and exciting subjects within Anglo-Saxon studies.

This year’s ASSC Graduate Conference, to be held at NYU, takes as its theme “Humans/Animals/Things,” with particular attention to how these categories are shaped and to objects and beings that challenge these categorizations. We intend to discover common ground and points of connection in a broad range of work. As such, we invite papers that use a range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches to one or all of the following: humans, animals, things. For instance, papers on “things” could approach medieval objects such as books, figurines, and bones through lenses ranging from object-oriented ontology and thing theory to archaeology and manuscript studies. They might also address the blurred boundaries among humans, animals, and things when non-sentient objects (such as books, figurines, and bones) are derived from or represent living beings.

Potential areas of investigation may include:

Anglo-Saxon things (books, figurines, bones, etc.)
Anglo-Saxon animals
Anglo-Saxon relationships with animals and things
Hybrids (monsters, bones as human and thing, etc.)
Textual images in manuscripts
The body, as human or other
Anglo-Saxon interaction with environment (landscape, seascape, etc.)

Please submit 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers by January 15, 2013. Please include academic affiliation, e-mail address, street address, phone number, and audio-visual requirements. Abstracts may be sent to

Organizational Committee: Mo Pareles (co-chair), Dan Remein, Carla Thomas (co-chair), Jo Livingstone, and Emile Young

Co-sponsored by: Medieval and Renaissance Center, New York University

For other ASSC events and for further updates on this conference, please visit the ASSC website at To join our email list please email

Call for Papers: Early Middle English Society

The 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, takes place May 9-12, 2013. Below is the Call for Papers for two sessions sponsored by the Early Middle English Society (webpage currently under construction, but visit them on Facebook here). Please submit abstracts to Dorothy Kim at by September 15.

1) Rereading the Ormulum (Bodleian Library MS Junius 1)

In recent years, the set of homilies in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Junius 1 have begun to receive more attention beyond an interest in its linguistic importance in the formation of Early Middle English. As one of the earliest pieces entirely in Early Middle English, the twelfth-century homilies in this manuscript  have been a treasure mine to historical linguistics because of Orm’s particular interest in spelling and the use of double letters to indicate vowel quality. However, it has only been recently that we have turned our attention to this work’s place in the context of late-twelfth century homiletic and literary culture especially as seen on the continent. This panel will consider papers that reread and reevaluate the Ormulum in terms of content rather than as data for linguistic analysis.

2) Multilingual Early Middle English

This panel is interested in papers that reimagine the boundaries of Early Middle English in a multilingual milieu. We are interested in papers that think about multilingualism on the page, multilingual texts in one manuscript, or how multilingualism can make Early Middle English an interesting experimental zone for code-switching and mixed language. We are also interested in how other media (music, visual, etc.) may also help reimagine multilingualism and the production of early Middle English.

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