Old English, Middle English, and Contemporary Trans Studies

deadline for submissions: 
March 18, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
MLA Middle English and Old English Forums
contact email: 

This session invites innovative work at the intersection of Old or Middle English and Trans Studies, particularly work that reflects on the development and increasing variety of Trans Studies in these fields.

Medieval studies is in a moment in which it is re-examining the long-held categories that have traditionally defined its boundaries. As this reconceptualization of the field progresses, Trans Studies offers a number of scholarly methodologies and insights that are changing the way medievalists consider their field and, more specifically, Trans history both in the period and beyond. Indeed, a cohort of emerging and established scholars have recently published groundbreaking new research in the area, including 2019’s special issue of the Medieval Feminist Forum on “Visions of Medieval Trans Feminism” (eds. Bychowski and Kim) and 2021’s Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography (eds. Spencer-Hall and Gutt) and Trans Historical (eds. LaFleur, Raskolnikov, and Klosowska). These new works read the medieval archive in light of the work of modern Trans Studies scholars, demonstrating how the latter generates insights into genres as diverse as saints’ lives, mystical texts, and romance. This roundtable panel invites contributions that examine the intersections of medieval studies and Trans Studies, including (but not limited to): papers that show how the conceptual resources of Trans Studies can enrich existing medievalist methodologies and vice versa; reflections on the development of medieval Trans Studies, including work in Trans Studies avant la lettre; innovative approaches to the intersections among feminism, Trans Studies, and the medieval; new readings and insights from the archives that take up these topics; how transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, and intersex lives in the Middle Ages can help clarify, modify, or engage in modern Trans Studies and theory; and how our professional spaces, such as university departments or conferences like the MLA, remain problematic for marginalized scholars working in “traditional” historical and literary fields. We particularly welcome papers that engage with Trans history writ large, from, say, Old English trans masculine warriors to the rich Trans history of this year’s MLA location, San Francisco, with its formative events such as the Compton’s Cafeteria riot.  250-word abstracts for this roundtable session should be sent to Mary Kate Hurley (hurleym1@ohio.edu) and Claire Waters (cmwaters@ucdavis.edu) no later than March 18, 2022.