“Imagined Encounters” Special Issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies, Vol. 7 (DUE: 15 October)

full name / name of organization: 
Roland Betancourt, Editor
contact email: 
roland.betancourt@yale.edu

José Saramago’s History of the Siege of Lisbon (1989) is structured around a transgressive proofreader who alters the course of history with the insertion of the word “not” in a historical text. By negating a crucial statement in the text, the proofreader then sets out to rewrite the history of the siege of Lisbon. Medievalists must often reconstruct the nature of their objects and audiences in order to produce narratives on visual and literary interactions between images, texts, and their communities. Through excavations, primary texts, and artifacts, cultures of reception are articulated and experiences with objects and texts are interpolated. Similar to a proofreader’s ethical code, archaeologists and art historians operate with an infinite list of assertions and negations that define the possibility of certain inquiries and narratives. The scholar knows, for example, that an eleventh-century Byzantine viewer did not use an iPad for worship. Despite understanding the visualities of a Byzantine beholder and the workings of an iPad, the extrapolation of this encounter is verboten as a scholarly narrative. Nevertheless, such encounters across time offer fruitful parallels and sites of generative critical resistance that operate within the same processes of imaginative and discursive (re)construction that a scholar deploys to produce any historical narrative. The “imagined encounter” enables the scholar to produce scholarship that is socially motivated, rooted in the concerns of the present while still offering critical feedback beyond anachronism. This volume’s essays encourage the suspension of disbelief and the negation of historical ‘givens’ in order to construct imagined (rather than imaginary) historiographies.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
-Failed projects and dead ends in scholarship
-Fictional worlds as discursive tools
-Modern objects in medieval worlds
-Medieval viewers/readers/users in modern worlds
-Speculation and object-oriented ontologies
-Queer temporalities and other forms of trans-temporal belonging

Please submit a 500-word abstract along with a CV to the volume’s editor, Roland Betancourt (roland.betancourt@yale.edu) by 15 October 2012.

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