Medieval English Studies Symposium (30th November-1st December 2013): Between Nostalgia and Hope: The Waning of the Middle Ages

full name / name of organization: 
Department of English Literature, Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

You are cordially invited to send paper proposals to the 12th Medieval English Studies Symposium, organised by the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, which will be held in Poznań from 30th November to 1st December 2013. MESS12 will have as its aim bringing together specialists in the areas of medieval English literature and culture. This year MESS is titled:"Between Nostalgia and Hope: The Waning of the Middle Ages".

"O ye knyghtes of Englond where is the custome and vsage of noble chyualry that was vsed in tho days" (1998: 122) mourns William Caxton in the endnotes to his translation of Ramón Lull's Le Libre del Orde de Cauayleria, The Book of the Ordre of Chyualry, translated c. 1480. In his commentary on this work Caxton looks back at the seemingly ideal world of chivalry of bygone days and laments the loss of chivalric spirit amongst his contemporaries. Idealizing the past may be one way of looking at it, and for Caxton the expression of nostalgia is mixed with hope that those who should look into his book will feel inspired by the model knight he is depicting.

The 2013 Medieval English Studies Symposium will be devoted to perspectives on the past as construed by late medieval writers. Our plenary speaker is Richard Newhauser whose work on sins is internationally known, and who will discuss the idea of decadence, inextricably connected with the waning of an epoch. Gower's lovesick Amans no longer wants to be in the service of Venus, for him courtly love is a thing of the past. Post-Chaucerians begin turning to the subject of the influence of "the makaris" (the maker), while drama is going through the slow transformation from the religious to the more secular plays.

MESS 2013 welcomes papers about the fifteenth century, a century of nostalgia for the world that is inescapably coming to an end, as well as one of welcome for the new sciences, new geography and new literatures.

500-word abstracts should be submitted by the end of May 2013, preferably by e-mail (; More at: