Hunting for the Animal Subject in Anglo-Saxon England: a Roundtable (Kalamazoo 2017)
A recent trend in medieval studies and the humanities at large has been a “turn” to the animal. While medievalists have long been interested in bestiaries, beast epics, and other texts populated with nonhumans, the research that is produced is inevitably concerned with what those works say about human culture rather than what they can reveal about perceptions of animals as animals. The field of animal studies (alternatively known as critical animal theory), in contrast, focuses on how humans have sought to differentiate themselves from nonhuman animals and how this perceived seperation has determined the human treatment of and responses to nonhumans. Animal studies seeks to critique the past and present mistreatment of nonhumans but also to envision an affirmative and ethical form of response to the animal, to move beyond the hierarchical, Cartesian (and Augustinian) dualism that to date has largely defined the human-animal relationship.
While Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Susan Crane, and Karl Steel have recently brought such concerns to bear on medieval literature in invaluable studies, the focus of their work is usually on the later Middle Ages. This roundtable discussion will thus take as its focus human-animal interactions in the literary and material culture of Anglo-Saxon England. Presenters will be invited to discuss, in a 10-minute talk, an animal-related question in their own research and to reflect on their methods for understanding how animals were perceived by the Anglo-Saxons. Given the limited corpus of written texts that survive from Anglo-Saxon England, the question of the animal in this period is by necessity a multidisciplinary one, and specialists in fields as varied as philology, literary criticism, philosophy, art history, and archaeology are welcome.
Please submit an abstract (preferably 300 words or less) as well as a completed Participant Information Form (found here: https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) to Matt Spears (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than September 15, 2016.