Messy Bodies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Body in Pre-Modern Culture (ICMS 2019)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Network (MARGIN), NYU
contact email: 

Following our end-of-the-year symposium, the Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Interdisciplinary Network welcomes papers for our two sessions on Messy Bodies: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Body in Pre-Modern Culture.

Messy bodies are all of our bodies. Once we take a good look at them, it becomes clear that the instantly legible body is nothing more than a construct. Bodies resist categorization, they push against their own boundaries, they complicate our understanding of medieval and Renaissance subjectivity and individuality; ultimately, they show how we—modern scholars—still need to consider what constitutes the often radicalized or gendered body. They remind us that no “body” may be taken as a given, requiring (even while confounding) construction in discourse, images, and other media.

On the one hand, we are particularly interested in the ways in which the psychological, emotional, and sensorial potentials of the human body express themselves semiotically and semantically. On the other, we want to explore what constitutes human or non-human bodies, following discussions on materiality, animal studies, and critical theory.

We envision our double session as a forum for discussion that engages with premodern bodies as physical and symbolic entities that both stand for and disrupt prescriptive discourses on bodily and social functions, including sexuality, and political participation. Following our mission to foster collaboration across disciplines, we welcome submissions from all fields, from any and all areas of the globe. 

Submissions may focus on topics including, but not limited, to: 

  • humoral and medical theories and practices 

  • queer and trans* bodies 

  • critical race theory 

  • disability studies 

  • object-bodies and objectified-bodies 

  • post-humanisms (including considerations of ontology, networks, animal studies, and 

    cybernetics) 

  • pre-, early-, and post-modern theories of embodiment, subjectivity, and agency 

  • violence to the body 

  • dynamics of mind, body, and soul 

  • modern responses to pre-modern bodies (in film, art, literature) 

Please submit a 200-word abstract with a short bio (.pdf or .docx preferred) to  our e-mail nyumargin@gmail.com with “Kalamazoo submission” in the subject line, by September 15. Questions can also be addressed to the same e-mail.

Abstracts not accepted to our sessions will be forwarded to the IMCS for consideration in general sessions.