Langland's Library: CFP for the Seventh International Piers Plowman Society Conference

deadline for submissions: 
September 7, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
International Piers Plowman Society
contact email: 

International Piers Plowman Society Conference (April 4-7, 2019).  Paper Panel: “Langland’s Library”

            The intertextual quotations in Piers Plowman embed the dream vision within the Latinate discourses of Scriptural commentary and legal jurisdiction, to name only two. While John Alford’s Piers Plowman: A Guide to the Latin Quotations (1991) made a significant contribution to identifying their sources, the means by which Langland encountered these texts demands further study. In the case of quotations that frequently show up in commentaries, it seems nigh impossible to point to any single work as Langland’s definite source. Scholars have commonly assumed that Langland relied upon the textual resources designed to aid pastors in their care for souls, such as confessional manuals and theological compendia. For example, Ralph Hanna has demonstrated that Langland knew the Speculum vitae, and Nicholas Watson has posited his familiarity with Robert Grosseteste’s Le Chåteau d’Amour. Taking another approach, Anne Middleton has traced a vernacular dictum, the proverb ‘Dowel’, back to a Latinate pastoral handbook. Whether or not Langland had access to this particular work, Middleton’s study richly contextualizes our understanding of the associations this formulaic utterance evoked for Langland and his readers. Looking beyond pastoralia, scholars such as Nicolette Zeeman have explored Langland's evocations of romance conventions.

            This session calls for papers that explore the wider literary contexts in which the quotations of Piers Plowman circulated, the textual vehicles through which Langland encountered them, and their function and rhetorical effects within the poem. How does Langland re-contextualize quotations and conventions found in other genres to produce this most innovative and challenging work of Middle English literature?

Organizers: Liam Cruz Kelly, Boston University & Ann E. Killian, Yale University


All submissions should be sent to by September 7. Please put the title of the session in the email subject line. Ann E. KillianEnglish DepartmentYale University, New Haven, Liam Cruz KellyEnglish DepartmentBoston University, Boston,