CFP: Celtic/ Old English Studies at MLA 2019

Greetings and salutations! Apologies for the radio-silence this month; it’s been a February, and someone forgot that two sections of Research and Argumentation means 40 students instead of 20 students to work on multiple drafts of multiple essays and hold individual conferences with; that plus teaching my other two (new) courses  (But, at least they’re glorious fun–Mythology and Folklore! Violence and Trauma in medieval lit!) and scrambling to finish revisions on a conference paper and three articles and draft a book proposal has had me a wee bit in over my head….. but March is coming!

In the meanwhile, here is a gift for you, Dear Readers–a call for papers for two Celtic Studies panels at the MLA 2019 convention in Chicago! See details below, and if you are working on anything that might pertain, consider submitting an abstract!

MLA Celtic Studies Forum panel 1.
Digesting Violence: Feasting and Feuding in Celtic Narrative

Feasts in Celtic literatures and lore tend to be extravagant and symbolically rich
cultural, political, and social affairs–and they are often intricately linked with violence. Beyond the inherent violence of slaughtering, dismembering, and cooking the animals to be eaten, feasting halls also provide both explicit and implicit opportunities for violence by collecting many people together, each for individual reasons and bringing his or her emotions into the space to interact with those of others. A banquet that takes place in a royal, chiefly, or fairy hall is thus likely to be as fraught with tension as it is lavish. It may mark the resolution of a feud, or be the vehicle for commencing one. The ever-present danger of violence at the feast may also be Otherworldly, requiring the guarding of the senses as carefully as the body.

We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations that explore the concepts of food and violence, and the interconnectivity of these concepts, in texts ranging from the medieval period to modern folklore. Proposals of 250 words should be submitted to Natasha Sumner (nsumner@fas.harvard.edu) and Amy Mulligan (amullig2@nd.edu) by March 22, 2018.

MLA Celtic Studies Forum panel 2.
Panel co-sponsored by the Celtic and Old English CLCS forums
Transformative Encounters: Models for Teaching a Multilingual Middle Ages

We warmly invite proposals for presentations from teacher-scholars working in any time -period for a dynamic panel on practical approaches to teaching medieval Celtic, Norse and English texts in the British literature survey. Our goal is to expand options for instructors beyond the small clusters of non-English-language texts sometimes offered in anthologies. The 3-4 participants selected for this panel will each speak (ca. 10-12 minutes) on one specific text they teach, offering a focused discussion of how they situate the text in the context of the overall survey; how they handle problems of language barrier, translation/edition availability, and student lack of familiarity with the text; and any particular insights they can offer about the specific text chosen in terms of its literary and cultural significance, themes it might be used to explore, etc. Though all strong proposals will be considered, preference will be afforded to those whose proposals relate to the broad theme of texts about literature and language: they might reflect on some aspect of the art of writing (in manuscripts, on monuments, etc.), storytelling or narrative construction (oral and written) and audience consumption, the talismanic power of a book, poem, the restorative or transformative effect of a verbal utterance, etc.

After the panelists are selected and the session is approved by MLA, our speakers’ texts (and potentially lesson plans, syllabi, or other materials panelists would like to circulate) will be made available to MLA members through the Celtic and Old English forums on the MLA Commons for pre-circulation purposes, so that audience members who wish to can read and familiarize themselves with the session texts ahead of time, to facilitate a robust Q&A and richer discussion of how the chosen texts can be profitably incorporated into a survey course either together or individually. As with the 2018 roundtable on “a Better Brit Lit Survey”, it is our hope that speakers and audience participants will include both those with some background in English, Celtic and Norse literatures, languages, and/or culture, as well as teacher-scholars who have little or no formal training in these areas but who are invested in a multicultural North Atlantic and have (or want to) include Celtic and Norse materials in a Brit Lit course, including K-12 educators. The goal is that all those who attend this panel leave with materials, and practical teaching support for those materials, that they can immediately put to use in their own classes.

Please submit a proposal of 250 words for a presentation of 10-12 minutes to Amy Mulligan (amullig2@nd.edu) and Renée Trilling (trilling@illinois.edu) by March 22, 2018.

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About Melissa Ridley Elmes

I am a medievalist, wife and mother of two who spends her days researching, writing, teaching, painting, singing, dancing, acting and trying to find more hours in a day.
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