I’m baaaack…. and I bring gifts! Three CFPs for medievalists: Robin Hood, Gender Studies, Monsters!

Hello World! It’s been a while. I know I owe you many, many posts, on many, many topics–and you’ll get them, I assure you!–but to begin, here are a couple of calls for papers for the Southeastern Medieval Association conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you’re a medievalist working on any of these topics, consider submitting an abstract! Please note that these are session proposals and will need to be confirmed by the conference organizers; in other words, there is every likelihood that the sessions below will be accepted, but we do not guarantee that they will be.

I. SEMA 2015 (Little Rock, Arkansas, October 22-24)
Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship sponsored session

Session Topic: Gender and Feasting

Organizer: Melissa Ridley Elmes, University of North Carolina Greensboro
Presider: Amy Vines, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Historically and often anachronistically, the feast in medieval literature and culture has been viewed as the height of noble culture, a moment in which a community comes together to celebrate its achievements and renew its unity. From the Germanic comitatus represented in Old English poetry to the feasts found in Latin chronicles like that of Geoffrey of Monmouth; from the great German epic Nibelungelied and the Old Norse sagas to the French and English Arthurian romances, textual feasts often seem on the surface to be overwhelmingly masculine in nature, with women playing supporting roles and other genders prominent only in their general absence. However, closer observation of the medieval feast can yield surprising and important considerations about gender and feasting. This panel seeks papers from any discipline that trouble the easy identification of patriarchy within the feast scenes of medieval literature and culture, focusing rather on more nuanced discussion of gender roles in moments of feasts and feasting. Possible topics might include cross-dressing or other trans-gender activity, violence and gender at the feast, gender and eating practices, gender and custom at the feast, gender and spirituality at the feast, gender and (ig)nobility at the feast, or similar.

Please send a 300 word abstract and brief bio to Melissa Ridley Elmes (maelmes@uncg.edu) by June 25, 2015.

II. SEMA 2015 (October 22-24, Little Rock, Arkansas):
International Association of Robin Hood Studies sponsored session:

Session Topic: Greenwood Fashion: Clothing, Textiles, Skins, and Furs in the Ongoing Robin Hood Legend

The Robin Hood ballads and other Robin Hood tellings, from the past through the present, often emphasize clothing and accessories, as well as related textiles, skins, and furs.  For example, in the medieval Gest of Robyn Hode, Little John becomes the “draper” for the impoverished knight, even giving him well over the “thre yerdes” of “scarlet and grene” which Robin suggests (ll. 277-296) – which also raises the question of what, exactly, the terms “scarlet” and “green” mean in the context of the Gest and the ballads.  Clothing continues to figure in the tale of the poor knight, and also in the Third Fytte when Little John tricks the Sheriff into being captured by Robin Hood (ll. 769-784).   In the Seventh Fytte, the king and his party disguise themselves as monks in an attempt to trap Robin Hood (ll.1465-1500), a disguise beloved later by filmmakers and other storytellers, just as Marian’s disguising herself as a page in the ballad of “Robin Hood and Maid Marian,” circa 1600, continues in some form in various novels, plays, and films.  Then there is the “capull-hyde,/Topp, and tayle, and mayne” in which the bloodthirsty Guy of Gisborne is clothed in the ballad “Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne” (ll.29-30).  Clothing continues to be a matter of some importance in the Robin Hood legends, sometimes even serving as psychological markers as, for instance, the bright jeweled flowers on shining black which Olivia de Haviland’s Lady Marian wears when we – and Robin – first see her in the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood, when Marian is sure of herself and her place in society, and confident in that society, as opposed to the somber dark burgundy she wears at Robin’s trial for treason.

For this session, we welcome 20-minute papers from any discipline, including interdisciplinary papers, which examine some aspect(s) of clothing, textiles, skins, and furs in the ongoing Robin Hood legend.

Please send a 300 word abstract and brief bio to Sherron Lux at sherron.lux@sjcd.edu, Alex Kaufman at akaufman@aum.edu AND Melissa Ridley Elmes at maelmes@uncg.edu BY June 25, 2015.

III. CFP: Southeastern Medieval Association Conference 2015
Session Sponsor: MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology Through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application)

Session Topic: “Breast and Balls: Monstrous Gender Markers”

Session Organizers: Sarah Barott (Bemidji State University) and Melissa Ridley Elmes (University of North Carolina Greensboro)
Session Presider: Melissa Ridley Elmes (University of North Carolina Greensboro)

From clerics and scholars penning homilies and treatises to the creators of etymologies and encyclopedias, from chroniclers recording history to the writers of romance fictionalizing the human experience, human sexuality is a preoccupation of many medieval writers, And yet, more often than not, that sexuality is couched in general terms: the body parts involved in human reproductive acts are, in most cases, either barely alluded to or not mentioned at all.

This is not so with monstrous counterparts to the human. While we may never know the size of Lancelot’s “prowess” there is no ambiguity surrounding the Cerne Abbas giant’s 36 foot erect phallus; we never read of Guinevere’s breasts, but Loathely Lady Dame Ragnell’s “hangyng pappys [to be] an hors lode” (242) are described in detail, and Melusine in her bath is a central image of monstrous female genitalia on display. Monsters with prominent reproductive features are found in the margins of manuscripts, in three-dimensional statuary and other material objects, in geographical landmarks, in tales passed through the folkloric oral tradition and surviving in vestiges today, and of course, throughout medieval texts. Why are the breasts and genitalia of the monstrous rendered so explicitly in medieval culture? Where do monstrous breasts and genitalia appear, and under what conditions? Who is the audience for monstrous breasts and genitalia? What are we to make of the prominent presence of monstrous breasts, testes, vulvae and phalluses in a culture often viewed as devoutly religious and self-consciously reticent on the subject of human genitalia?

MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology Through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application) invites 20 minute papers from any field or theoretical approach and on any subject relating to the topic of medieval monstrous genitalia. Please send abstracts of 300 words and a brief bio to session organizers Sarah Barott <SBarott@bemidjistate.edu> and Melissa Ridley Elmes <maelmes@uncg.edu> by June 25, 2015


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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