More Fuss about the Body: New Medievalists' Perspectives (CFP for ICMS 2019)

Call for Papers: International Congress on Medieval Studies
Kalamazoo, MI — May 9–12, 2019

“More Fuss about the Body: New Medievalists’ Perspectives”

Organizers: Stephanie Grace-Petinos and Leah Pope Parker

In her 1995 essay “Why All the Fuss about the Body?: A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Caroline Walker Bynum presented a nuanced picture of embodiment in the past in order “to suggest that we in the present would do well to focus on a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies.”[1] The same year saw the release of Bynum’s magisterial exploration of the body, identity, and medieval Christian eschatology in The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336. Almost 25 years later, Bynum’s call for diversity with respect to histories of the body still invites increasingly nuanced approaches to medieval embodiment. This panel seeks to honor Bynum’s seminal essay, while using it as a springboard for future investigations concerning the body, both medieval and modern.

We seek papers that deal with personhood, identity, and the material body, updating histories of the body through areas of study that have grown in popularity since the mid-1990s, including disability studies, trans studies, queer theory, postcolonial studies, posthumanism, ecocriticism, animal studies, and the global Middle Ages, along with new developments in feminist and critical race theory. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Bodily integrity and the limits of the body, healing damage to the body, or bodies and borders (i.e. the treatment of bodies in immigration/incarceration);
  • Theologies of death and resurrection and rituals of burial and remembrance;
  • Bodies centered and marginalized—including discussion of recent movements such as #metoo and Black Lives Matter;
  • Gender expression and/through the body;
  • Normativity (cisheteronormativity, compulsory ablebodiedness, etc);
  • Flora and fauna, cyborgs and prosthesis;
  • Present-day concepts of embodiment and their medieval predecessors as presented in popular culture (e.g. the television shows Supernatural or Game of Thrones);
  • Comparative and cross-cultural concepts of the body; and/or
  • The body in queer/crip time.

The organizers of this panel are committed to including perspectives representative of the diversity of the field, and to amplifying voices that are too often marginalized by systemic discrimination in academic employment, publishing, funding, and conference programming. In the spirit of Bynum’s invitation to consider “a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies,” we welcome papers that offer critical reflections upon the field of medieval studies, and which represent diverse and innovative perspectives on medieval histories of the body and contemporary medievalisms. Given the limitations of a single conference panel, submissions will also receive early consideration for an edited volume on the same range of topics.

Please submit abstracts of 200–300 words to More.Body.Fuss.Kzoo19@gmail.com by Friday, September 14, 2018, along with a completed Participant Information form. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, as per Congress regulations. The organizers are happy to answer any questions via the aforementioned email address.     

 

[1] Caroline Walker Bynum, “Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry 22 (1995): 1–33, p. 8.

 New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.736, fol. 17r. The body of St Edmund of East Anglia, with a red scar around his neck, lying with a wolf by its side. Several onlookers attend to the body under a large, stylized tree.

New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.736, fol. 17r. The body of St Edmund of East Anglia, with a red scar around his neck, lying with a wolf by its side. Several onlookers attend to the body under a large, stylized tree.