Futures of Allegory: Medieval & Modern (A Collaboratory)

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Special Session at Kalamazoo Medieval Studies Congress 2013

Medieval scholarship has been reinvigorated by the so-called nonhuman turn, exhibited in many fine recent engagements with materiality, objecthood, animality, and monstrosity. We invite participants in our panel to situate prosopopoeia – personification allegory – within this broad context. We ask whether and how the device of rhetoric can expand the arena of nonhuman agents and material entities and ecologies. We wish to consider the futures of allegory, medieval and modern. For some allegory is precisely what modernity has had to overcome to achieve the humanist outlook. What then are the capabilities of such figures in the wake of modern humanism? Does personification allegory have a place in creating or critiquing alternative, post-human futures?

We invite panelists to approach allegory as affording lively and animating presences, devices of material figuration, means for assembling new collectives, sites where poiesis (making) and praxis (doing) might coalesce, congeal, erupt. In allegory it is as though made things (fictiones, figurae) all of a sudden have bodies, can act and effect change. Our main hunch is that allegory populates Langland's "field of folk" with additional, neglected figures and voices. Deriving from a compound Greek term (allos, other + agoria, speaking), allegory promises to speak otherwise about our collective prospects, offering a rhetorical means by which non-human others declare themselves.

Panelists might ponder how personification allegory...

• redistributes agency across human and non-human horizons?
• materializes the abstract, or etherealizes the concrete?
• upholds or subverts notions of progress, power, personhood?
• operates as technologies of artificial intelligence?
• historicizes the atemporal, slows down flux?
• exposes or expands the limits of conceptual thinking?
• inaugurates a phenomenology of proxy bodies?
• interacts or interfaces with affective, alien, animal entities?
• revitalizes speculative realism, political ecology, object oriented ontology?
• reinvigorates the disciplines of the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic)?
• resists anthropocentrism, democratizing notions of "life"?

Send paper proposals to one of the organizers:

Gaelan Gilbert ggilbert@uvic.ca
Allan Mitchell amitch@uvic.ca

The deadline is September 15th. A paper proposal comprises a one-page abstract and a completed Participant Information Form, which is available on the Congress website beginning in July.