[UPDATED} Geographies of Desire: A Medieval and Early Modern Interdisciplinary Conference April 27-28, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
The Graduate Field Committee of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and the Department of English at the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park -- April 27-28, 2012

Keynote Speaker: Valerie Traub, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan

Where do we go to get what we want? Mandeville to the kingdom of Prester John, the Littlewits to Bartholomew Fair, Antony to Alexandria, Henry VIII to the Field of the Cloth of Gold: the fulfillment of desire, or the negation of an interior lack, is frequently a plotted movement from here to there. "Geographies of Desire" seeks papers that explore how desires are mapped across spatial planes; how do spaces such as markets, shrines, bedrooms, and courts produce material, spiritual, erotic, and political desires?

Geography is produced by an invested interest in the world, such that the mapping out of one's desires is a precondition for mapping out the world. The desire for geographies both literal and figurative results from having outgrown local, national, imperial, and earthbound spaces. And yet, satisfaction often eludes us: the geography of desire pursues a sense of completion but risks corruption in the process.

Geography assimilates space and erases conceptual difference between separate worlds within the confines of a controllable physical representation. But even as the fog lifts from the exterior world, a strange desire keeps pulling us toward things monstrous and divine. How, then, does the geography of desire upset or reinforce the economic, political, erotic, and cosmological centers of our universes? How do literature, the visual arts, travel narratives, histories, religious writings, natural philosophy, and theater imagine these geographies? How and why do we imagine ourselves into the personal, cultural, ecological, and political spaces of others?

The Graduate Field Committee of Medieval and Early Modern Studies and the Department of English at the University of Maryland invite papers that explore these issues for "Geographies of Desire," a graduate-faculty conference to be held April 27 and April 28, 2012 at the University of Maryland, College Park. This two-day interdisciplinary conference aims to foster insightful and vigorous conversation on this topic through an innovative format that includes graduate paper panels, roundtables, and plenary sessions with local scholars (TBA).

In addition to traditional papers, we are soliciting proposals for workshops related to the conference theme. Digital Humanities workshops centered on new research tools, pedagogy tools, or digital archives are especially welcome.

We expect this theme to be interpreted broadly, but invite participants to consider some of the following approaches:

-Exclusionary geography: Anchorites, xenophobes, isolationists, land enclosure

-Desire in Transit: pilgrimages, war and territorial expansion, diplomacy, colonization, tourism, travel literature, captivity narratives, slave narratives

-Shipwrecked Desires: lost coasts, desert islands, Hellesponts and Maelstroms, Mermaids and Sirens

-Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?: local economies, fair circuits, foodsheds and market villages, new views on Von Thünen

-Scientific Desire for Geography: telescopes, cartography, geohumoralism, new technologies, cosmography, describing nature—natural philosophy v. poetry, properties

-Great Reckonings in Little Rooms: domestic economies, decoration of interior spaces, mapping the home

-Long is the way / And hard, that out of hell: religious desires, missions, conversion, priest holes and monuments, spreading reform, spreading heresy, redemption

-Art and design: cartography (veracity v. subjectivity), mapping the canvas, perspective, architecture, urban planning

-Romantic and Erotic desires: exogamy, queer spaces, gendered spaces, courtly love, private / public, forests and cityscapes: green worlds and grey worlds

Abstracts of 400-500 words for workshops or 20-minute papers related to the conference theme should be emailed to (fieldcommittee.umd@gmail.com) no later than Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Please check http://geographiesofdesire.blogspot.com/ for registration information and other conference related updates.

Details on plenary speakers can now be found on the website