With Catherine Sanok: Secular Temporalities

deadline for submissions: 
September 25, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Harvard Medieval English Colloquium
contact email: 



While much ink has been spilled over the complexities of sacred time in medieval studies, secular time has attracted significantly less attention. This panel welcomes papers that discuss secular temporalities from any angle, but which might respond to one or several of the following questions. Does secular time, as Charles Taylor has argued, act as a hegemonic force, a way of evacuating the multifaceted nature of sacred time? Or does secular time in fact have the potential to accommodate religious difference, such as the different ways of structuring the day in various religious traditions? What rhythms structured the medieval day, the hour, or the week? How might figurations of the secular relate to astrological time, or other modes of considering the saeculum? How might secular time be bound up with the organization of political community, or with genealogical or regal time? If secular time can be seen, at least in part, as sequential or linear, how might this kind of temporality intersect with literary narrative? This is intended primarily as a Middle English panel, but if you work on similar issues in the earlier part of the Middle Ages, we are happy to consider your submission.

Note on the selection process: The Harvard Medieval English Colloquium will sponsor two panels this coming May at the 54th Annual Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Each of the panels has a "featured speaker": Catherine Sanok has agreed to give a paper on "Secular Temporalities," and Stacy Klein on "Early Medieval Childhood, Parenting, and Family Structures." A committee will choose three other panelists for each session by a process of blind review of the abstract submissions. The hope is that the blind review process would provide a relatively unbiased chance for junior faculty, graduate students, and adjuncts to "break in" on a panel that has the potential to draw a big audience. The sum of the idea is thus twofold: first, to start a conversation between senior faculty and those whom academic conferences often leave underexposed, and second, to provide a space for dialogue between academics at widely differing stages of the career.