Feminist Philologies (RSA 2020)

deadline for submissions: 
August 12, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Stephen Spiess / Babson College
contact email: 

Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting
Philadelphia, 2-4 April 2020

Feminist Philologies

What are the futures for feminist philology? The (re)turn to philology in early modern studies has reinvigorated interest in the work that words “do,” both in cultures past and our own critical praxes. It has also raised important political, methodological, and epistemological questions. In this panel, we invite papers which explore the benefits and potential limitations of feminist philology. What defines or characterizes a feminist philology? How might philologically-informed praxes enhance, trouble, or transform our feminist engagements with the literatures and cultures of the early modern period? How might—or should—feminist philologies intersect with, and/or diverge from, other philological approaches to early modernity: queer, trans*, transnational, race, eco-, etc.? How might digital methods and resources (re)shape our feminist engagements with early modern words, including the relations, knowledges, and/or histories encoded within them?

Papers might: 

  • define or theorize a feminist philological practice;
  • address the philological turn and its utility for feminist literary and cultural criticism;
  • introduce a new method for reading early modern words relevant to the study of women and gender;
  • propose a new model for conceptualizing relations between early modern words;
  • scrutinize influential terms, keywords, and/or heuristics deployed by feminist critics;
  • explore the benefits and/or limitations of related hermeneutics, from “keywords” (Williams) and “complex words” (Empson) to “verbal networks” (Parker), “critical semantics” (Greene), “queer philology” (Masten), “queer etymology” (Blank), “chaste thinking” (Jed), “bawdy puns” (Bly), “sex talk” (Traub), etc.;
  • examine the benefits and/or limitations of digital methodologies for feminist philological approaches to early modernity;
  • attend to broader aspects of early modern lexical culture, including orthography, etymology, and lexicography. 


Proposals should be sent to sspiess@babson.edu by August 12, 2019. Please include a title, a 150-word abstract, and a short CV (2 pages, maximum).