The Medieval Today and Tomorrow: Lives that Matter and the Question of Relevance (MLA 2025)

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
MLA, LLC Medieval French

The Medieval Today and Tomorrow: Lives that Matter and the Question of Relevance

MLA - New Orleans, LA (Jan. 9-12, 2025)

The Black Lives Matter movement brought the question of which lives matter to the fore in extremely powerful ways. This panel encourages reflection not only on which lives matter in medieval societies and the texts they produce but also on how (a) mattering would function differently in the medieval world and on how (b) medieval texts can or cannotcontribute to critical reflection on the concept of mattering today. Are issues of mattering relevant in the same ways, that is, during the medieval period—and how might the distant past help us think through the various implications of mattering?


We therefore invite papers that consider not only which but also how medieval lives matter and what medieval mattering means; and we particularly invite papers that attend to the intersection of these questions with notions of relevance. The humanities more broadly, and medieval studies more particularly (and medieval French studies even more particularly!), are constantly being called upon to justify their relevance in a rapidly changing world. It also seems important to recognize that some scholarly works foreground relevance in ways others do not. What does relevance mean and what different forms can it take? Is it, more generally, a useful concept in justifying what we do? Do we have meaningful choice about using this standard? Do medieval texts themselves thematize issues of relevance or broach the concept in different ways? And finally, is relevance what makes our work matter?


Please submit abstracts of ~250 words by March 15 to Charlie Samuelson,

It is preferred but not required that interventions engage with some French or Occitan material.