Monday, July 9, 2018

*“Contact Zones: Fur/Flesh/Fabric/Fieldstone”*

*postmedieval **Special Issue, February 2020*

In the Middle Ages, objects establish the attributes of the human bodies
they constitute and surround. When a knight’s golden spur leaves a bloody
mark on his horse’s ribs, a prophetic sword transforms an ordinary
Englishman into “The Once and Future King,” or the Sibyl’s stony dwelling
amplifies her verbal authority, *things*confirm the chivalric prowess,
royalty, and power of their human affiliates. Objects possess agency and
wield immense identitary capital. The *stuff *so often considered
peripheral to human existence comes to influence and even converge with the
bodies of medieval people. This issue moves out from flesh and inward from
environments to interrogate how the items that enhance, protect, or hide
human bodies constitute human identity.

Inspired by Karen Barad’s *intra-activity*, Donna Haraway’s *contact zones*,
and Stacy Alaimo’s *trans-corporeality*, this issue valorizes the materials
surrounding human bodies as vital to medieval concepts of selfhood and
identity. This issue looks to the corporeal *intra-action* between human
forms and the materials worn by them as a means to understand the
imbrication of human identity with the more-than-human world. It seeks *contact
zones* in textual, historical, artistic, and architectural representation
as sites of multi-directional identitary exchange, often between different
species or materials. It asks how the risks inherent in
*trans-corporeal *embodiment
may undermine or obviate the agency, aims, and aspirations of the human
bodies it implicates. In sum, it interrogates how the things worn, crafted,
and wielded by people mark perceptions of human identity and agency.

Contributors may respond to such questions as:

·         How do the materials that clothe or surround bodies impact their
identity?·         Do all human bodies experience an identitary imbrication
with the materials in their environment? What consequences occur if a body
rejects this enmeshment?·         How do gender, social class, race, and
ability influence hybrid material embodiment? Might such hybrid material
embodiments influence perceptions of gender, social class, race, and
ability in turn? How?

·         How do objects overturn or reinforce human social and moral

·         Do non-human objects and materials support heteronormative,
anthropocentric, cisgendered, or patriarchal structures of power? Or, do
they help their owners and wearers to reject normativity and construct new
models of embodiment?

·         Do objects participate in or eschew barriers between human
embodiments and the more-than-human world?

·         Is there a site at which the human stops and the non-human world

Each article will engage with theoretical traditions like new materialism,
posthumanism, or actor-network theory to read non-human objects as
complements to and evocations of human embodiment. Together, the articles
of this issue will assess the entanglement of objects and human identity in
the Middle Ages.

Please submit essay proposals (300 words maximum) by September 15, 2018 to
Elizabeth S. Leet ( Accepted articles will be due May 1,

Elizabeth S. Leet, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor of French
Department of French
Franklin & Marshall College

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