CFP: [Medieval] Romancing History: Interrogating the Crossroads of Medieval Genres [9/15/08; Kalamazoo '09]

full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Williamsen
contact email: 

Romancing History: Interrogating the Crossroads of Medieval Genres
Panel for the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies
7-10 May 2009, Kalamazoo, Michigan

In a recent companion article to Arthurian romance, W.R.J Barron spends
nearly two-thirds of his essay discussing medieval texts that identify
themselves as histories. This approach is not surprising, given the
fluidity of medieval romance’s generic identity. Scholars have long noted
the overlap between medieval romance and history, observing, as Judith
Weiss does, that wealthy patrons frequently took a simultaneous interest in
the two modes; further, chronicles and romances often coincided in their
contents and styles, such that romances reinterpreted historical events
while histories romanticized them. To some extent, critics argue, any
distinction between romance and history is an anachronistic one imposed
retroactively by the divisions modern scholars see between their own fields
of study.

The proposed session will seek to explore various instances of the
intertwined relationship between history and romance by investigating the
ways these modes overlap and interact in medieval texts. Participants may
choose to extend the discussion by examining the socio-cultural reasons
underlying the appropriation of historical events and figures by romance.
What late-medieval cultural work is accomplished by a Middle English
romance that recounts the story of an Anglo-Saxon king or one who ruled
only a century before? Conversely, papers may focus on the use of romance
content, form, and style in ostensibly factual chronicle accounts. What
purpose might a chronicler like Benoit de Sainte-Maure accomplish by
incorporating aspects of romance into episodes of a history? Ideally this
session will generate useful work on the medieval uses of these flexible
generic categories.

Please send 250-word abstract by Sept. 15, 2008 to Elizabeth Williamsen at

Abstracts may also be mailed to:
Elizabeth Williamsen
Department of English
Ballantine Hall 442
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

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Received on Fri Jul 18 2008 - 11:34:50 EDT