Strange Heading: Post-Critique and the Medieval Book

deadline for submissions: 
March 13, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Sherif Abdelkarim / Modern Language Association LLC Middle English
contact email: 

Recent work like George Edmondson’s The Neighboring Text or Seeta Chaganti’s Strange Footing models close engagement with medieval manuscripts that offers new modes of experiencing literature beyond the historically positivist, empirically material, or hermeneutically suspicious, either by recognizing the limitations of theoretical lenses or by approaching language beyond information. This session asks how looking at the character of the medieval text on the manuscript page–its calligraphy, titles, rubrics, initials, performance cues, polysemy–might allow us to consider anew readers’ encounters, medieval and modern, with that text. How did premodern people encounter strange texts, and how did the manuscript contexts and clues of those texts influence their encounter? What can we find if we look at the conjunction of material page and immaterial speculation, at the ways that letters and words invite an approach beyond that of reading for content?

Please send paper proposals to Sherif Abdelkarim,, and Megan L. Cook,, by 13 March 2023.