Wednesday, July 23, 2008


44th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo
May 7-10, 2009
Call for Papers
Sessions sponsored by MEARCSTAPA:


Session 1: Monstrous Production and Reproduction

The medieval accounts of origins for monstrous creatures are varied
and diverse, ranging from tracing these beings' lineage from Cain or
Ham (as in the Old English Beowulf and the Hiberno-Latin Sex Aetates
Mundi), to placing their beginnings in the curse of a saint from more
recent times (as in Giraldus Cambrensis' Topographia Hiberniae or in
the Old Norse Konungs Skuggsia), to even some texts which attribute
monstrosity to what we would call "environmental factors" (e.g. the
Rothschild Canticles). The methods by which individual monsters and
monstrous races reproduce their anomalous physiologies are also
equally varied, if and when such processes are outlined when they are
not implied or assumed. Papers in this panel will focus on these
accounts of the creation and procreation of monsters, both in a
narrative sense and/or a textual sense (i.e. tracing the origins of a
particular monstrous motif), and will illuminate how these accounts
not only demonstrate the intentions and understanding of their
textual authors and audiences, but also how these tales interpret and
define the fears as well as ideals of humans in the past and present
toward physiology, cosmology, ethics, sexuality, and the general
existence in and engagement with the world-at-large.

Session 2: "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)": A Roundtable

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's now paradigmatic manifesto on the importance
of studying monsters and the monstrous, both generally in all time
periods and cultures as well as in strictly medieval contexts, has
influenced and inspired countless students exposed to his text in
undergraduate courses, and likewise a great many working scholars and
the studies they have produced since its publication in 1996. As an
inaugural event for MEARCSTAPA, we seek in this roundtable to
re-familiarize ourselves with the critical issues of the text, but
also to evaluate, reconsider, and extend these theses for future
consideration and deployment in subsequent studies. Founding members
of MEARCSTAPA will share their interpretations and experiences of the
text in research and teaching, and we will seek to have Cohen act as
a respondent to the issues raised. Additional participants are
encouraged to join the discussion. Being a panelist does not
preclude being a speaker in another session.

Please send abstract and participant information form
( by
Sept. 15 to

For further instructions,

These two sessions are the first official action of MEARCSTAPA
(Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of
Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application), a
new scholarly organization dedicated to the study of monstrosity in
and around the Middle Ages. If you are interested in joining the
organization (no dues!) and being put on our new listserv, please
write to me at Hot on the heals of four very
successful monster sessions at Leeds, we hope to carry this project
forward at Kalamazoo.

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