CFP: Method and the Middle English Text Graduate Conference

The Graduate Medieval Colloquium at the University of Virginia, along with organizers from the University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley, invites submissions for a graduate student conference and colloquium:

Method and the Middle English Text

April 8-9, 2016

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville

Keynote speakers: Andrew Cole (Princeton University), Alexandra Gillespie (University of Toronto), Patricia Ingham (University of Indiana, Bloomington), Steven Justice (UC Berkeley), Kellie Robertson (University of Maryland), Emily Steiner (University of Pennsylvania).

The study of Middle English literature has long been characterized by methodological debate. In the 1960s, E. T. Donaldson’s medievalist new criticism contended with D. W. Robertson’s exegetical criticism; in the 1990s, the relative merits of psychoanalysis and historicism were repeatedly weighed in the pages of Speculum. Today, though the camps are more fluid and the range of methods more diverse, a similar division obtains between the practitioners of “old” and “new” methodologies. On the one hand are the more traditional practices of philology, codicology, paleography, lexicography, biography, and forms of historicism, materialist and other. On the other hand are the newer methodologies, such as ecocriticism, object-oriented ontology, new materialism, affect studies, new formalism, disability studies, queer theory, and the digital humanities.

Advocates of methods both old and new have not hesitated to argue for the merits of their respective approaches. Missing from these discussions, however, is a sense of how these different methods and intellectual investments can operate together as a scholarly praxis. How, for instance, can one combine an interest in codicology with an interest in ecocriticism, biographical readings with affect studies, materialist historicism with the new materialisms, philology with new formalism? This conference aims to produce just such scholarship. Our goal is not to correct or affirm any specific view or theoretical model. Rather, we desire a scholarly disposition of both/and, rather than either/or.

The conference will address these questions through three thematic strands led by the plenary speakers: Modes of Knowledge (Alexandra Gillespie and Patricia Ingham), History and Literature (Steven Justice and Emily Steiner), and Philosophy and Form (Andrew Cole and Kellie Robertson).

Submissions addressing one of these three thematic strands are sought from graduate students for:

●      Abstracts for twenty-minute papers that combine at least one old and one new methodology, to be organized in sessions.

●      Abstracts for roundtables centered on one or two set primary texts. Instead of using these texts in order to apply some theoretical method, we ask that roundtable presenters treat these texts as theoretical works in themselves. What methods, in other words, do the texts themselves ask us to consider? What can they teach us about medieval or modern theoretical methods?

Presenters will also be invited to participate in seminars, conducted by the plenaries and conference organizers and dedicated to discussion of a selection of critical texts. These seminars are designed to complement the roundtables and panels, addressing the methodological questions, cruxes, and problems from the theme of each strand.

Please submit abstracts of one page in length to methodandme [at] gmail [dot] com by November 1, 2015. Preliminary inquiries and expressions of interest are most welcome. For further information and updates, including specific questions and readings for seminars and roundtables, visit