CFP: [Medieval] (Kzoo): Anglo-Saxon Matter and Materialism

full name / name of organization: 
Johanna Kramer
contact email: 

For this session, we are interested in investigating Anglo-Saxon definitions
and understanding of materiality, in particular the materiality of
immaterial concepts. While much recent scholarship has focused on the
material culture of Anglo-Saxon England, exploring ideas such as the
significance of religious objects or the construction of social spaces,
materiality as a signifier for spiritual principles or theological concepts
has received much less attention. Anglo-Saxons imagined the physical
universe and the process of creation in intensely material terms, as is
reflected in OE words like gesceaft (creation, element) and andweorc
(matter, substance, material). At the same time, they did not strictly
follow Augustinian separation of transcendent and material worlds but
understood the boundaries between these worlds as permeable. Thus, spiritual
realities and ecclesiastical processes (writing, preaching, instructing,
etc.) were equally conceived of in material terms.

Possible questions to answer are: Did the Anglo-Saxons have an abstract
concept of "matter"? How do material elements in nature reflect spiritual
ideas? How are theological ideas inflected by specific concepts of
materiality? Does the materiality of textual production reflect the
theological problem of incarnation? Are there distinct conceptual processes
through which material objects are "objectified" in Old English literature
(and what are they)?

Please send abstracts to Eddie Christie (Dept. of English, GSU, PO BOX 6296,
Atlanta, GA 30302-3970; or Johanna Kramer (Dept. of
English, U of Missouri-Columbia, 107 Tate Hall, Columbia, MO) 65211; Please also remember to submit the required forms,
which can be found online at the conference website.

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Received on Thu Jul 31 2008 - 11:58:07 EDT