[UPDATE] In/animate: The Thing (Babel Conference, Austin, TX Nov 4-6) CFP extended to July 1

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MEARCSTAPA / Babel Working Group

MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory And Practical Application) invites paper proposals for a panel inspired by the by the articles in Post/medieval, which draw Katherine Hayles' work on posthumanism into dialog with medieval scholarship.

"No medieval stone exists alone, but is an actor in a narrative that exceeds any use value, any practicality, a gem of aesthetic efflorescence that conveys conventional histories and received traditions beyond any border that they would ordinarily cross. " -Jeffery Jerome Cohen, "Stories of Stone"

Following Jeffery Jerome Cohen's meditation on stones and Susan Signe Morrison's call for a fecopoet[h]ics in the inaugural edition of Post/medieval, this panel is an exploration the boundaries of the inanimate. How do we understand the inanimate objects that make up our world as (1) stones, bridging the gap between our frailty and their seeming eternity, as (2) waste products to be eliminated from consciousness, as (3) tools, whose existence would seem predicated upon the use of man? In what ways does our relationship with things define our relationship with ourselves and others? How do we define the inanimate objects in our environment, and how does this definition in turn restrict or expand our understanding of the human? How might the brass horse in the "Squire's Tale" or the Mechanical Turk be understood as bridging the boundary between the inanimate and animal studies or orientalists perspectives?
How might Graham Harman's Tool-being be understood in terms of the speaking objects in the Book of Exeter riddles or the Dream of the Rood? If things are simply part of the architecture of our environment, invisible if functioning correctly, why then do the tools come to have voices? If an object is only genuinely visible to us when broken, why does the fantasy of magical objects persist in romances and epics? Finally, how can these examples from medieval literature shed light on our present relationships with things?

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For more information about the conference visit the Website: http://www.siue.edu/babel/BABEL_Biennial_Meeting_AustinTX.htm

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Abstracts of between 150-250 words should be sent by July 1 to: medieval.thing.cfp@gmail.com