CFP-Kzoo 2014 "I just don't want to die without a few scars": Medieval Fight Clubs, Masculine Identity, and Public (Dis)ord

full name / name of organization: 
Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University
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Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club dramatizes group combat as a means for creating and performing masculine identity. Though composed hundreds of years after the last medieval tournament, Palahniuk's 1996 novel parallels a phenomenon similar to that governing conduct in medieval martial games. Such martial games posed a serious threat to public order, as Juliet Barker and Juliet Vale have argued, and this session builds on their work by extending analysis of medieval martial conduct to include the topic of masculine identity: how does an identity predicated by violence conflict with or bleed into the public sphere? Broad surveys of the tournament abound; this session aims to build upon the momentum of our 2013 session of the same name and continues to think about the intersection of masculine identity, violence, and martial games and its fraught relationship with public order.

Possible topics include:
• the material culture of martial games, such as weapons, armor, heraldric devices, and rolls
• historical accounts of tournaments in chronicles, histories, and public records
• manuscript images of knights, kippers, weaponry, and martial games
• the role of space in identity-building
• the male body and violence
• fighting manuals, treatises on 'physical fitness' or training
• representations of masculine identity and violence in romance, allegory, epics, etc.

This paper has been sponsored by the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University.

We welcome one-page proposals (250-300 words) from scholars of all levels. They may be sent along with a completed participant information form (found at to Steven Bruso ( by September 15, 2013. Feel welcome to contact Steven with questions about the session. For general information about the 2014 Medieval Congress, visit:

Feel free to distribute this CFP widely.

Organizers: Steven Bruso (Fordham University)
David Pedersen (Fordham University)

49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan
University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 8-11, 2014