CFP: Theorizing Gender in Medieval Texts (9/15/05; Kalamazoo, 5/4/06-5/7/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Marla Segol

Theory: The process of theorizing gender in medieval texts

This panel will be dedicated to exploring the process of theorizing =20
gender in medieval texts.
It will focus on some key questions inherent to this process, such as =20=

the politics of interpreting particular texts and artifacts, and of =20
relating those interpretations to prevailing constructions of history =20=

and/or culture.

When we read a text or an artifact we make some fundamental decisions =20=

about its nature and the social conditions that produced it. This =20
decision making process consists in part of determining the ways in =20
which it participates in its cultural milieu. Many of these =20
determinations are of necessity based in a dialectical, rather than a =20=

dialogical, or even a multivocal understanding of history and =20
culture. This dialectical process has been the ballast of those self-=20
designated =91realists=92 wishing to write women out of history. This =
has =20
been quite effective because as a matter of course a dialectical view =20=

of history stifles plurality, and smoothes over the distinctiveness =20
of the moment by forcing them to resolution in synthesis.

More often than not these problems are at the crux of debate on =20
reading gender in medieval texts. Because of the rewriting that has =20
occurred, the particular instance is of great importance to the study =20=

of women and gender in the middle ages. As feminist scholars =20
attempting to read against this sort of rewriting, we so often focus =20
on the moment at which conventional narratives (contemporaneous or =20
emended) break down to reveal a complexity in engenderment, or a =20
difference from our expectations. These moments are crucial for us, =20
in that they manifest some of the difference that has been smoothed =20
into Hegelian synthesis. At the same time, however, without the =91big =20=

picture=92 it is difficult to assess the significance of a particular =20=

instance. We must always wrestle with what we have received, and in =20
the act of theorizing gender and women=92s experiences, we attempt to =20=

connect the instance to the larger narrative. Given that the two are =20
interrelated, we tread continuously on slippery ground.
This panel will focus on these negotiations. I invite submissions =20
that specifically engage the process of theorizing gender and women=92s =20=

experiences. Individual papers might discuss in depth the process of =20
negotiating a particular instance crucial to our understanding of =20
women and gender in the middle ages, with special attention to the =20
ways in which we engaged big-picture constructs thought to govern =20
discourse on the subject. Some of these narrative constructs might =20
include the normalization of maleness, heterosexuality, Chrsitianity, =20=

and Europeanness. Alternatively, I invite papers exploring the ways =20
in which these =91rules=92 of interpretation are made.

Please send abstracts by September 5 to Marla Segol:

Marla Segol
2A52 Paterson Hall
Religion and Classics
Carleton University
1152 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON
K1S 5B2 Canada

Marla Segol
Assistant Professor of Religion
Carleton University

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Received on Fri Aug 12 2005 - 11:07:15 EDT