Calls for Papers: Animal Studies sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies 2019!

Hello, all! I hope you are having a restful and productive summer. Below please find two CFPs for sessions on animal studies at next year’s ‘Zoo, and please share widely and/or consider submitting an abstract if you have anything that fits!

CFP 1: “Animal Crime” at the ICMS 2019 “Kalamazoo”

The International Association of Robin Hood Studies is sponsoring a session on “Animal Crime” at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo:

Outlaws and outlawry are commonly associated with the human; yet, throughout the medieval period, animals were both the subject of crime, as when they were stolen, maimed, or killed, and its perpetrator; for example, the sow and piglets put on trial for murder for killing a 5-year old boy in Savigny, France in 1457. Documented legal trials from a variety of cultures featuring pigs, goats, horses, dogs and cows suggest that medieval understandings of the moral agency, ethics, and politics of outlaws and outlawry was decidedly not simply a human affair, but extended to our animal counterparts. Papers might consider the historically-documented or literary or textual (re)imagining of a trial or set of trials featuring an animal or animals; how animals interact with outlaw humans; the moral agency of animals on trial; the ethics of putting animals on trial; the ethics of outlawing animals; how animals can be constructed as outlaws philosophically, legally, or by other means, how and where animals appear in laws, the treatment of animal outlaws, animal exiles, and similar.

Send abstracts and a completed PIF form to Melissa Ridley Elmes at by 15 September, 2018.


CFP 2: “Arthurian Animals” at the ICMS 2019 “Kalamazoo”

The International Arthurian Society–North American Branch is sponsoring a session on “Arthurian Animals” at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo:

Ecocritical approaches to medieval literature have enjoyed a robust and wide-ranging development in recent years, fueled by the work of scholars including Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Heide Estes, Gillian Rudd, Alfred Siewers, and Vin Nardizzi. Similarly, over the past decade in particular, scholars including Karl Steel, Susan Crane, Peggy McCracken, Lesley Kordecki, and Lynn Van Dyke have proven critical animal studies to be an important means of interrogating ethical, political, and epistemological understandings of the medieval world, and modern receptions of that world. The interdisciplinary theoretical paradigms offered by ecocriticism and animal studies have greatly enriched traditional approaches to and interpretations of medieval texts, opening up new lines of inquiry that establish medieval literature’s place and ensure its continued relevance within the larger theoretical conversations in literary and cultural studies.

While there is now a great deal of scholarship on animals in medieval literature, particularly the animals of medieval French and English encyclopediae, bestiaries, and romances, there has been relatively little critical attention paid specifically to animals in the Arthurian legend, particularly so when we look beyond the mythical White Hart, the Questing Beast, and the dragons. Yet, animals real and imagined abound throughout the pages of Arthurian narratives; one need only examine Kara McShane’s Arthurian Bestiary (…/mcshane-arthurian-bestiary-int…) for a starting point from which to begin looking for them.

This proposed session provides a forum for scholars to consider the presence, narrative function, and critical significance of animals within the entirety of the Arthurian oeuvre, in order to bring Arthurian literary studies into conversation with animal studies generally, and animal studies in medieval literature and culture more explicitly. We intend this session to serve as the beginning of a continued scholarly discussion of the place of animals within the Arthurian realm. Questions that may be considered in this session: what animals are and are not present in these texts, and to what extent can that presence (or lack thereof) be explained by genre, geography, cultural transmission, adaptation, or by other means? Which animals interact with humans, and in what ways? Are there moments in which animals interact with one another, rather than with humans, and if so how does this shift attention from the human to the natural world? Are there unexpected or, perhaps, unintended narrative functions for animals in these texts? What medieval theories of the natural world might be profitably applied to the examination of animals in Arthurian texts? Is there an essential distinction between mythic and real animals in Arthurian texts? Is there any sort of a discernible ethics involved in human interactions with animals? Is there value in examining Arthurian tales through an animal studies critical lens?

Send abstracts of 250-300 words and a completed PIF form to Melissa Ridley Elmes at by 15 September, 2018.


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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