[UPDATE] Kalamazoo 2010: Meet the Ancestors: Saxons and Britons in Late Medieval England

full name / name of organization: 
Cynthia Turner Camp / University of Georgia
contact email: 

Seeking one paper to fill a session! Please submit by 21 September 2009

Meet the Ancestors: Saxons and Britons in Late Medieval England

International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI
13-16 May 2010

The question of whether to trace the descent of English identity from the Britons or Saxons was, as many early modern scholars have shown, a religiously and historiographically fraught issue by the end of the sixteenth century. While the form and urgency these questions took in early modern England were dependent on the period's political, religious, and intellectual climate, the underlying question of historical origins and their perceived etiological force were in play in later medieval England. While the Galfridian narrative of Trojan/British origins has long been recognized as central to medieval historical writings, the ways in which late medieval individuals and communities could derive contemporary identities from it are being freshly explored in the work of scholars like Sylvia Federico. The possibility of a late medieval appreciation of the Anglo-Saxon past, on the other hand, had been strongly discounted in Allen J. Frantzen and John D. Niles' Anglo-Saxonism and the Construction of Social Identity, yet Robert Rouse, Katherine J. Lewis, and others have begun showing how the idea of the Anglo-Saxons was central in some late medieval constructions of identity. This panel will put these two growing critical discourses into dialogue by seeking papers that elucidate the roles of explicitly insular historical consciousnesses in the creation of late medieval identities -- individual, communal, and/or institutional. Presenting the interdisciplinary work of scholars pursuing these questions in the cloister and parish, at civic, regional, and regnal levels, and in written discourse from hagiography to romance to chronicle, the panel will pursue the question of how perceived historical origins shaped late medieval perceptions of different communities' positions on the island and within Western Christendom.

Please submit abstracts for 20-minute papers to:

Cynthia Turner Camp

Department of English
254 Park Hall
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30606