MARGIN reads Messy Bodies

deadline for submissions: 
March 9, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Network (NYU)
contact email: 

Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Network

Second Graduate Symposium

New York University | May 17, 2018

MARGIN reads Messy Bodies

Last year, in our end-of-the-year symposium focusing on the afterlife of Ovid in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, we found ourselves confronting surprisingly queer, surprisingly metamorphosed, messy bodies, bodies that frequently demanded decidedly messy methodological engagements, between disciplinary categories or at their margins. With all this in mind, we continue our group exploration of the body with this year’s symposium.

Messy bodies are all of our bodies. They resist categorization, they push against their own boundaries, they complicate our understanding of medieval and Renaissance subjectivity and individuality; ultimately, they show how we—modern scholars—still need to consider what constitutes a body. They remind us that no “body” may be taken as a given, requiring (even while confounding) construction in discourse, images, and other media. 

For our second graduate symposium, we invite submissions for 20-minute papers from any discipline in Medieval and Renaissance studies, engaging with aspects of bodies that do not fit cleanly into modern notions of normativity. Submissions may focus on topics including, but not limited, to:

●humoral and medical theories and practices

●queer and trans* bodies

●critical race theory

●disability studies

●object-bodies and objectified-bodies

●post-humanisms (including considerations of ontology, networks, animal studies, and cybernetics)

●pre-, early-, and post-modern theories of embodiment, subjectivity, and agency

●violence to the body

●dynamics of mind, body, and soul

●modern responses to pre- and early-modern bodies (in film, art, literature) 

In the spirit of our interdisciplinary group, we hope that students from various departments will contribute to this ongoing dialogue around the limits and challenges of working as, with, and through bodies. We are happy to announce that our keynote speaker will be Dr. Heidi Hausse (Mellon Research Fellow & Lecturer in History, The Society of Fellows in the Humanities—Columbia University).

Please submit a 250-word abstract with a 50-word bio (.pdf or .docx preferred) to with “Symposium submission” in the subject line, by March 9. Decisions will be notified by March 20.


It would be no more correct to say that medieval doctors, rabbis, alchemists, prostitutes, wet nurses, preachers, and theologians had “a” concept of “the body” than it would be to say that Charles Darwin, Beatrix Potter, a poacher, and the village butcher had “a" concept of "the rabbit.”--Caroline Walker Bynum