"With Nicholas Watson: Middle Time: Past, Present, and Future" at Kalamazoo 2016

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Harvard Department of English Medieval Colloquium

As Carolyn Dinshaw would remind us, time is a product of multiple styles of representation. Time can be recursive (the seasons), or it can map one temporality onto another (the liturgy). It can even be imagined as moving towards its own ending (the apocalypse), either by the slow ticking of days or the rush of a visionary leap, one that moves from the time of the present to the end times.

This panel suggests that the idea of "middle time," a notion that encompasses both scholarly constructions of the medieval past as "in the middle," and medieval conceptions of that aspect or quantity of time lying between past and future, might prove useful as a tool for scholarly communication with the medium aevum. If the Middle Ages are understood by modern historiogrpahers as "intermediate," do they interrupt, suspend, or join the time periods that come before and after them? Could those late medieval writers who inhabit spaces of the secular and the eternal, the historical and the prophetic (for instance, Julian of Norwich, John Mandeville, Margery Kempe, or William Langland) be said to write in a "middle" mode? How might contemporary scholars work with models of temporality from the past —and of the past—to better understand, as Nicholas Watson has put it, the "rich exchanges between present and past that are an often-repressed feature of our work?"

This session invites new research relating to the medieval and post-medieval constructions—both scholarly and imaginative—of the past, present and future.

Nota bene: This is a blind review panel. Nicholas Watson has agreed to present a paper, but a committee will select the other papers by a process of double blind review of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts from graduate students and junior scholars, particularly those in contingent faculty roles, are especially encouraged.

All questions, abstract submissions, and required information should be sent to Helen Cushman at helencushman@fas.harvard.edu by the congress deadline (September 15th).