CFP: [Medieval] Making Readers Work (9/15/08; Kalamazoo 2009)

full name / name of organization: 
Heather Blatt
contact email: 

The Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University is sponsoring two
sessions at the 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 7-10 May
2009 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on the subject
of "Making Readers Work: Constructing Readers and Their Actions in the
Late Middle Ages."

In asserting that "Reading, not writing, was the dominant literary mode in
the Middle Ages," John Dagenais urges us to shift our focus from writers as
the controllers of their materials to writers as negotiators, collaborating
with readers to create the meaning of a text. Texts that articulate this
negotiation, as discussed in recent scholarship, include Piers Plowman,
with its coterie readers; Machaut's Voir Dit, with its inventive readers
who contributed to the text's transmission and interpretation via the
addition of glosses and illustrations; and Richard Rolle's English Psalter,
whose writer tried to prevent readers' engagement with the text outside of
the controlled setting in which its reception was intended. Yet we have
only begun to assess how texts, anticipating the agency of readers, seek to
incorporate their participation in the design of a workâ€"or even to control it.

We are, therefore, inviting proposals for papers that explore the
intersection of readerly agency with the interpretation and correction of
texts. What strategies are deployed in devotional texts to encourage
specific responses among their readers? How does the anticipation of
reader interaction influence the ways in which writers, scribes,
illuminators, and glossators shaped texts? How do cultural or social events
influence these textual negotiations? What alternatives to marginalia do
texts offer for scholars who seek to reconstruct reading experiences? This
panel, by addressing questions such as these, can open new avenues for
evaluating the work of readers in the late Middle Ages.

One-page proposals (250-300 words) from scholars of all levels are sought,
and they may be sent along with a completed participant information form
(found at to
Heather Blatt,, no later than September 15, 2008.

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Received on Wed Jul 09 2008 - 11:31:22 EDT