MLA 2024: Transtemporal Methodologies in the Study of Late Medieval English Literature
Several recent, celebrated studies of late medieval English literature present their anchoring motivations as including one or more twenty-first century activist concerns – for example, scholarship that considers Chaucer and rape culture, examines the medieval roots or affinities of contemporary white supremacy, thinks ecocritically about the medieval beyond-human, juxtaposes medieval political events with modern ones, etc. Methodologically, such studies have involved explicit interleaving of analysis of late medieval English literary texts with considerations of texts, events, or discourses of the present. This session is interested in how such methods might be theorized, systematized, or otherwise conceptually grounded – how we might explain what we are doing when we pursue such projects. Topics to consider include the relation between these methods of interleaving or juxtaposition and various historicisms of the 80s and 90s, the problem of historical alterity, the question of the value that late medieval English literature holds for present-day activism, the bearing of diachronic aesthetic theories such as Bakhtin’s or Benjamin’s, etc.
Please send paper proposals to Bobby Meyer-Lee, email@example.com, and Claire Waters, firstname.lastname@example.org, by 17 March 2023.