MLA 2022: Remote Middle English 2: Present Negotiations with the Past
Sequestered away from our institutions, colleagues, and students, and yet continuing to seek connections with them, many medievalists have no doubt registered the uncanny resemblance between the newly remote experiences of our work and the already pervasive perceptions of that work as remote, both within and without academe. On the one hand, we find ourselves suddenly at a mandated remove from the special collections and archives that our work often requires, even while immersing ourselves in the twenty-first media technology that, we hope, will convey to students at a distance the excitement of texts originally hand copied on parchment. On the other hand—as the recent proposal by University of Leicester administrators to eliminate instruction in any British literature before Shakespeare starkly instances—we continue to confront an apparently ever-widening perception of our work as too remote, in language, culture, and values, to matter. Given that the pandemic is only one of several current global crises that seem potentially epoch shattering, many of us may feel a renewed pressure to make our field more responsive and attentive to proximate, present concerns; others may already have found new, productive ways of minding the gap between then and now. This roundtable session invites papers that explore either or both aspects of this remoteness: reflections on the significance and implications of the challenges that remote conditions have imposed on our research or teaching that are specific to Middle English scholars, especially those who do not work on the more readily accessible canonical texts; consideration of the stakes of and possible remedies for the remoteness ascribed to the work of Middle English scholars, again, especially of those who work with texts linguistically or thematically distant from the more familiar ones; or how one of these aspects bears on the other, whether in an ameliorating or exacerbating fashion. Please send abstracts of 250 words (or fewer) to Susie Nakley (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Bobby Meyer-Lee (email@example.com) by March 20, 2021.