Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Call for Papers

34th Annual Meeting: Southeastern Medieval Association
Bodies, Embodiments, Becomings
2-4 October 2008
Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri

Call for Papers: due May 30

In his book Medieval Identity Machines, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen writes that
we know the human body "is divisible into semidiscrete systems (nervous,
digestive, circulatory, excretory, reproductive), but that these
structures nevertheless form a bounded whole, a singular organism. The
human body is therefore described as a marvel of God or of evolution, a
system so autnomous from its environment that it can dream theology and
science in order to envision how it came to be the culminating creation in
a world of similarly distinct bodies and objects." But what if the body is
less than this idealization and also "more than its limbs, organs, and
flesh as traced by an anatomical chart"? What if it is "open and
permeable," and what if "corporeality and subjectivity--themselves
inseparable--potentially included both the social structures (kinship,
nation, religion, race) and the phenomenal world (objects, gadgets,
prostheses, animate and inanimate bodies of many kinds) across which human
identity is spread?" Cohen urges us to see bodies as "sites of
possibility" that are "necessarily dispersed into something larger,
something mutable and dynamic, a structure of alliance and becoming," and
which are always on the verge of escaping "the confines of somber
individuality" in order to connect with other bodies and other worlds.
Therefore, there is no "being," per se, only "becoming."

For the 34th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association, we
invite paper and session proposals on any topic relative to the Middle
Ages, but we especially encourage those proposals that address any and all
aspects of the body, embodiment, and becoming in medieval arts and
letters. Consider our definition of body to be wide open, to include human
and nonhuman bodies, bodies of language and manuscripts and texts, bodies
of history, bodies of knowledge, and bodies (of all types) as sites of
transformation and possibility, of departures and arrivals, of enclosure
and openness. Consider, also, if you will, the gendered body, the
racialized body, the phenomenological body, the sexualized body, the
colonial body, the medicalized body, the pathologized body, the animal
body, the erotic body, the loving body, the spiritual body, the abnormal
body, the medieval body, the communal body, the hybrid body, the
post/human body, and so on. Consider the relationships between body and
self-identity, between body and art, between body and mind, body and
culture, body and technology, body and world, and so on. Consider,
finally, the ways in which bodies and embodiment emerge out of historical
times and spaces, and out of historical processes of becoming
(coming-to-be through time and space).

Deadline for Submission: Friday, 30 May 2008

Send Paper or Session Abstracts to:

Eileen Joy
Department of English
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

*Submissions must be made via email.

Plenary Speakers

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, George Washington University (author and editor: Of
Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages; The Postcolonial Middle Ages;
Medieval Identity Machines; Thinking the Limits of the Body; and Identity,
Hybridity, and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: On Difficult Middles)

Steven F. Kruger, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center (author and editor:
Queering the Middle Ages; AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction
and Science; Dreaming in the Middle Ages; Approaching the Millennium:
Essays on Angels in America; and The Spectral Jew: Conversion and
Embodiment in Medieval Europe)

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