Exploring Performative Gestures in the Middle Ages (9/15/09; Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, May 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Jill Stevenson
contact email: 
jstevenson@mmm.edu

Exploring Performative Gestures in the Middle Ages
International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, Michigan
13-16 May 2010

Recent work by David McNeill suggests that gestures do not merely support or illustrate speech, but that they play a crucial role in creating thoughts and ideas. Research in cognitive psychology that explores embodied thought affirms this suggestion. But McNeill’s conclusions also echo conceptualizations of gesture that were pervasive throughout the medieval world. In the Middle Ages, gestures did not simply make abstractions concrete, but they were also expected to give ideas, relationships, agreements, promises, and theologies actuality and reality; gesture constituted a fundamental way to make meaning in both formal and informal settings. This panel invites papers that explore how gestures and their performances functioned throughout medieval cultures. The panel welcomes diverse approaches to gesture that explore how we might identify, reconstruct, and theorize the value of gesture across a range of medieval contexts. Such contexts might include plays, spectacles, literature, devotion, music, art images and objects, domestic life, royal rituals, legal practices, courtship, warfare, professional negotiations, etc. The panel’s organizer welcomes work from all medieval periods and geographic regions.

Submission Details: Submit one-page abstracts and contact information to Jill Stevenson at jstevenson@mmm.edu no later than September 15, 2009.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
gender_studies_and_sexuality
medieval
religion
theatre