CFP Kzoo2015 Mysticism and Materiality

full name / name of organization: 
Magistra: a Journal of Women's Spirituality in History
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50th International Medieval Congress
Kalamazoo, MI
May 15-17, 2015

A number of different scholarly organizations have come together for the 50th Medieval Congress to pose questions about Materiality in the Middle Ages. While each panel represents a different issue and/or approach, at the core of these many inquiries is the question, "what about the MATTER of the Middle Ages?"

This panel invites papers to explore the ways in which medieval mystics and visionaries experienced the divine in and through their bodies and by way of other material encounters. Magistra's sponsored session will focus on the role of bodies and objects in the experience and expression of desire in medieval female spirituality. What is at stake is not only the question of the "bodiliness" of female spirituality, but the way in which spiritual experience and expression was facilitated by and experienced within a corporeal or even "thingy" framework or interaction.

We seek papers that interrogate what “knowing” meant in the context of medieval heterodoxy, erotic mysticism, and the sacramental mediation of bodies. Additionally, we are interested in the way in which the practice of female spirituality was constituted through embodied, intellectual, and meditative encounters with things: beads, books, walls, clothes, food, and myriad other bodies or things. We are particularly interested in attracting papers that use both continental theologians and mystical writers to explore the relationships between sacraments and rituals and human bodies attempting to touch the untouchable. We ask: what constituted mystical knowledge and how was its ecstasy experienced?

Papers and abstracts can address the issues of mysticism, materiality and female spirituality in any of the following veins, or others occurring to individual submissions:

• The embodied experience of mystical visions/ecstasy
• The materialization of the mystical
• Writings (by men or women) describing or proscribing practices of female mysticism/piety/devotion
• Material or embodied practices of mysticism or mystical devotion
• The making manifest of mystical experience (in books, art, writing, re-telling, etc.)
• The role of objects in mystical experience, expression, or practice
• Human and/or non-human bodies in mysticism, mystical practice, or visions
• Bodily or corporeal experiences of mystical or divine ecstasy
• Sacraments in female mysticism—in practice, theology or visionary experience
• The role of touching in women’s mystical experience and/or practice
• The regulation of female bodies and/or materialities in mystical practice
• The policing of mysticism and heterodoxy in and through women’s bodies and material circumstances
• Etc.

Please submit abstracts (for paper proposals) of 250-400 words to with “Magistra” in the subject line. (This e-mail is receiving proposals for multiple panels, so please do not skip this step!) Please ATTACH your abstract as a Word (or other text) document, and include your name, contact information and the panel to which you are submitting (Magistra) IN THE TEXT OF THE DOCUMENT.

DEADLINE: September 15, 2014

Given that this panel is devoted to exploring religion or spirituality of any kind relating to women's bodies and experiences, we ask that papers on GENDER (more broadly defined) and materiality and/or mysticism be re-directed to the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship.

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