Thursday, August 6, 2009

CFP: Romancing History: Interrogating the Crossroads of Medieval Genres

Romancing History: Interrogating the Crossroads of Medieval Genres
International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, Michigan
13-16 May 2010

In a recent companion article to Arthurian romance, W.R.J Barron
spends nearly two-thirds of his essay discussing medieval texts that
identify themselves as histories. This approach is not surprising,
given the fluidity of medieval romance’s generic identity. Scholars
have long noted the overlap between medieval romance and history,
observing, as Judith Weiss does, that wealthy patrons frequently took
a simultaneous interest in the two modes; further, chronicles and
romances often coincided in their contents and styles, such that
romances reinterpreted historical events while histories romanticized
them. To some extent, critics argue, any distinction between romance
and history is an anachronistic one imposed retroactively by the
divisions modern scholars see between their own fields of study.

The session will seek to explore various instances of the intertwined
relationship between history and romance by investigating the ways
these modes overlap and interact in medieval texts. Participants may
choose to extend the discussion by examining the socio-cultural
reasons underlying the appropriation of historical events and figures
by romance. What late-medieval cultural work is accomplished by a
Middle English romance that recounts the story of an Anglo-Saxon king
or one who ruled only a century before? Conversely, papers may focus
on the use of romance content, form, and style in ostensibly factual
chronicle accounts. What purpose might a chronicler like Benoit de
Sainte-Maure accomplish by incorporating aspects of romance into
episodes of a history? Ideally this session will generate useful
work on the medieval uses of these flexible generic categories.

Please submit 250-word proposals to Elizabeth Williamsen at by September 15, 2009. Please also include the
Congress participant information sheet available at .

Elizabeth Williamsen, Ph.D.
Visiting Lecturer
Department of English
Indiana University

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