"The Child in Medieval Romance I-III" (Kalamazoo 2017)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 11-14, 2017, Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States

The medieval romance society is hosting for three sessions seeking to open up the complexities of romances’ engagement with children’s issues. How do romances problematize the relationships between children and adult society? Can children act to challenge the social order? In what sense can or should romances be understood as ‘children’s literature’? Is it possible to construct a child’s perspective? The sessions particularly invite approaches and methodologies drawn from non-traditional disciplines such as psychology, anthropology and emotions history. They aim to reconceptualise the ways in which children ‘read’ romance and forge new understandings of children’s engagement with medieval literary culture.

Session I: The Child in Medieval Romance I: The Theorised Child

This session invites papers theorising medieval children and and their relationship to romance literature. How do we conceptualize 'the child' in medieval romance? Papers might explore themes of maturity/immaturity, the social construction of childhood and adolescence, the place of modern theory in understanding and interrogating medieval childhood, codicological evidence of children’s reading, the concept of ‘children’s literature’ and its (un)applicability to medieval romance, the search for children’s voices in romance.

Session II: The Child in Medieval Romance Romance II: The Curious Child 

This session invites papers on representations of learning and unlearning in medieval romance. Where does knowledge come from in romance and how is it acquired? Papers might examine the portrayal of teachers, students, masters and apprentices, the ways in which learning was gendered, or the connections between knowledge and maturity. Papers could clarify or seek to undermine distinctions between children’s learning and adult learning.

Session III: The Child in Medieval Romance III: The Abused Child 

This session invites papers on romances’ portrayal of child maltreatment. What are we to make of narratives of incest, abandonment and child murder? Papers could discuss the portrayal of violence towards children and its relationship to medieval discourses of age, gender, motherhood, fatherhood, and nurture.

Please send an abstract of 250-300 words to Robert Grout (robert.grout@wrocah.ac.uk) along with a completed participant information form (found here http://www.wmich.edu/medievalcongress/submissions) by 15th September. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.