Trans-gressive Bodies: A Queer Perspective on Ovid in the Middle Ages

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher T. Richards / NYU's Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Student Network (MARGIN)

This past spring, NYU's Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Network (or MARGIN) held its first annual Symposium on the afterlife of Ovid in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We were delighted to present seven engaging student papers, as well as a keynote from Dr. Ana Pairet of Rutger’s University. The papers included topics as wide ranging as objectumsexuality in Pearl and the Roman de la Rose, so-called “hermaphrodite sin” in Inferno, and transgressive artists in the work of Spencer. The papers demonstrated not only how prevalent Ovid was in medieval and early-modern culture but also how many new and exciting readings of Ovid and Ovidian responses are possible, particularly when scholars of many different disciplinary and temporal backgrounds work together as team. Dr. Pairet’s respondent Dr. Alessandro Barchiesi (NYU, Classics) encouraged us to keep exploring these readings. And so we shall. We are delighted to announce that we are taking the MARGIN Symposium on the road! We are hosting a session at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, this spring in May 2018 in Kalamazoo: “Trans-gressive Bodies: A Queer Perspective on Ovid in the Middle Ages.” Continuing the conversations begun last spring, which generally departed from ‘traditional’ approaches to Ovidian reception (e.g. ‘influence’ or citation practices), our session takes a queer approach to the history of Ovid’s reception. We propose a panel which considers Ovid as a prompt for medieval considerations of non-normative bodies and non-normative desires. We suggest that Ovid helped the Medieval culture think queerly about bodies and identity. We hope to position Ovid as a touchstone for conceptualizing (possibly justifying) bodies which are transgressive, bodies that resist, that defy categorization, that defy boundaries or those bodies which are “trans-”; bodies that act transgressively, that enact desires which are “perverse.” Our panel seeks papers that consider Ovid and his medieval reception in light of:

  • Disability studies
  • Trans-studies
  • Objectophilia or object-oriented ontology
  • Critical plant studies
  • Animal studies
  • Transgressive sexual practices, including sodomy and bestiality
  • Fragmented bodies
  • Other queer theoretical approaches

MARGIN’s mission is to foster collaboration across disciplines. Hence we welcome submissions from all disciplines, particularly history, literary studies, history of the book and art history. We feel an interdisciplinary (and even trans-temporal) conversation can help us better understand the multifaceted nature of Ovid’s Medieval reception and the use of his corpus to think through transgressive bodies and identities.  Please share this message with friends and colleagues. Paper proposals should be sent to no later than September 15th and should be no longer than 300 words. Please feel free to reach out to myself ( or Katherine Travers ( with any questions.