The Problem of Epic (roundtable) @ ICMS 2020

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Société Rencesvals American-Canadian Branch
contact email: 

The Société Rencesvals was founded in 1955 to “promote the study of romance epics.” But what does it mean, today, to promote the study of a literary genre in which Europe, Christendom, victory, heroism and other valorized terms are too often defined in violent opposition to racial, religious, and cultural others? How do we handle the key concepts and narrative structures of the medieval epic—heroism, lineage, holy war, invasion, defense of the homeland—in the current cultural climate, and especially in the classroom? What kind of scholarly community exists, and how can we account for and move beyond that community's omissions, exclusions, blind spots?

In order to confront the problem of the epic in its full difficulty and complexity, this roundtable session seeks not only to foster a conversation among scholars who do study epic, but also to include the voices of scholars who do not. Please send a contribution description of no more than 150 words together with a completed Participant Information Form to session organizer Jason Jacobs ( by September 15. Please include your name, title, and affiliation—if any—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.

Keywords: Reflections on critical practice, literary history, history of criticism.