Encountering the Strange in Early Medieval England at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University
From Bede’s accounts of Britain’s originary myths to current scholarly and popular engagements with the Anglo-Saxon past, to encounter early medieval England is to depict or enact strangeness.
Taking Sarah Ahmed’s work on embodied strangeness, queer phenomenology, and related approaches as a source of inspiration, this panel welcomes papers that consider the strange in early medieval England. Ahmed’s work on embodied others, for example, leverages feminist theory and postcolonialism to posit the stranger as an embodied, discursive creation formed not as a manifestation of the distant and unfamiliar, but rather an extension of the self. Similarly, Ahmed’s queer phenomenology productively re-conceptualizes phenomenology as a means of considering the orientation of the body to ideas and objects. Proposed papers may consider the panel’s theme from any angle, including but not limited to such frameworks as: how cultural and/or social alterity manifests in Anglo-Saxon literature; how early medieval English subjects conceptualize the strange and/or the stranger; the function of strangeness in scholarly method, form, and object; the defamiliar of digitized Old English materials, or the aesthetics of estrangement as a poetic conceit, among others.
Note on the selection process: The Harvard Medieval English Colloquium will sponsor two panels this coming May at the 55th Annual Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. Each of the panels has a "featured speaker": Julie Orlemanski has agreed to give a paper on "Fictionality and Belief in Middle English Writing," and Martin Foys has agreed to give a paper on “Encountering the Strange in Early Medieval England.” 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 an unbiased chance for junior faculty, graduate students, and adjuncts to "break in" on a well-attended panel, serving two purposes: 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.