CFP: “Body Language, Bawdy Talk: Sex and Form in Medieval and Early Modern Culture”, The Early Modern Colloquium, March 2016

The Early Modern Colloquium at the University of Michigan
invites abstracts for papers for their interdisciplinary graduate student conference,
“Body Language, Bawdy Talk: Sex and Form in Medieval and Early Modern Culture”
at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, March 9-11, 2016.

With keynote lectures by:

Jeffrey Masten (Northwestern) and
Zrinka Stahuljak (UCLA)

And panel responses from the medieval
and early modern faculty at the University of Michigan.

Our knowledge about premodern bodies is mediated by cultural production and historical distance. We see (and don’t see) sex in pornographic images, libertine literature, and court records; we encounter racialized bodies through anatomy tracts, maps, and travel narratives; we come into contact with historical bodies through reliquaries, medieval manuscripts, and performance. But although we can’t fully recover what lies beyond or beneath these intervening forms, we can find both pleasure and knowledge in the traces of the archive. Jeffrey Masten, for one, approaching this problem in early modern English print culture, argues that “comprehension of sex will require philology.” Similarly, Zrinka Stahuljak looks to language for knowledge about sex in her book Bloodless Genealogies, reading genealogical filiation in medieval French romance as primarily a linguistic phenomenon.

Following the lead of these and other scholars, this conference is an opportunity to consider how thinking about embodiment through form, language, visual art, and material objects might open new avenues for understanding both cultural production and historical experience. Sex and sexuality, while inseparable from language and form, also cannot be understood without inquiry into the historical construction of race, gender, disability, and embodiment, all of which we hope to attend to. In addition, one panel, to be co-sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Religion in the Premodern Atlantic Workshop, will focus specifically on the intersections of sex, bodies, and form with premodern religion.
We invite fifteen-minute presentations on a medieval or early modern topic by graduate students in any discipline that think productively across two or more of these categories:

*   Gender, race, and sexuality

*   Language and form

*   Sex, desire, and eroticism

*   Art, literature, and representation

*   Performance and gesture

*   Production and reproduction

*   Visuality, materiality, and textuality

*   Disability and embodiment

*   Animals, nature, and ecologies

*   Violence, illness, and death

*   Religion, faith, and ecstasy

*   Travel, globalism and colonialism

*   Pain, pleasure, and affect

*   Aesthetics, historiography, and method

*   State formation and jurisprudence


Please submit 250-300 word abstracts to Margo Kolenda (<>) by December 1, 2016.

Special thanks to our cosponsors: Forum for Research in Medieval Studies, Drama Interest Group, European History Workshop, Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and the Religion in the Premodern Atlantic Workshop.

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