Monday, August 29, 2011

Postcolonial England

Call for Papers:

Sponsored Session: The Department of English Studies at Durham University invites submission of proposals for its session at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan from May 10-13, 2012. The panel seeks proposals of 300-500 words with a working title and department affiliation by September 1, 2011. Participants will be contacted regardless of whether or not their proposal has been accepted. All proposals submitted but not accepted will be sent on to the general committee for consideration in one of the general sessions at Kalamazoo. The CfP is as follows:

Postcolonial England

Postcolonial theory has been applied to studies of the Middle Ages with increasing frequency over the past decade. Throughout the 2000s, medieval studies has seen a plethora of publications in this area, from ‘Postcolonial Middle Ages’ to ‘Empire of Magic.’ This theory in particular has become a more prominent niche within contemporary criticism. Additionally, though it has been applied in many areas of disciplinary study, there are still many categories which need further research. One area in which postcolonial theory is particularly applicable is the analysis of national identity. This subject has also been a hot topic in the past few years, especially in relation to England (Ashe, McDonald, Lavezzo, Fenton). These two discourses sometimes, but not always, work together–and both areas could benefit from further exploration, both independently and symbiotically. Medieval postcolonialism can have the tendency to be too broad in its analysis and application throughout Europe, whereas discussions of national identity through specific texts can be overly narrow. By focusing on postcolonial interpretations of national identity in England alone, it makes for a more precise, but still broad area for discussion. This session will aim for papers which apply postcolonial theory to English texts in an attempt to better understand English concepts of national identity, specifically looking at less obvious, rather than canonical, texts as many of these have already been explored. For example, much work has already been done on romances such as Bevis of Hampton, Guy of Warwick, Richard Cour de Lyon, and Havelok the Dane. There is still much to be researched however, and this session aims to encourage such endeavours. As Thomas Crofts and Robert Rouse recently said in their 2009 chapter in ‘A Companion to Medieval Popular Romance,’ the lesser-explored romances “present more complex challenges for the critic [and] continue to demand individual detailed attention, lest we be lulled by their familiar rhythm into the belief that they speak with one voice.” We have chosen to propose this session to provide a more focused exploration of medieval national identity and postcolonialism by focusing on England, and hope this session will provide a larger litmus test for these ideas through its focus on lesser-explored English texts.

Contact: Meghan Glass

Meghan Glass
Doctoral Candidate, English Literature, Durham University
Institute for Medieval & Renaissance Studies: MRPDG
St. John's College Tuto

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