Animate Objects and Ecologies, at New Chaucer Society Congress, July 23-26, 2012

full name / name of organization: 
Allan Mitchell, University of Victoria
contact email: 

What animates things? How do organic and inorganic things live together in medieval literature and culture? Today thinkers are increasingly drawn to the nature of things in and of themselves, seeking material objects as they stand outside of the parochial, human subject. What can medievalists contribute?

Our dialogue may turn on the following questions: How do objects, organisms, or environments become animated in late medieval literature? Where does Chaucer generate animate objects or ecologies? How do medieval writers (and how do we) draw the line between animate and inanimate presences? What is the source of the power of animation, generation, vivification, agency? What constitutes the environment outside of human use or cognition? How does imagining an "outside" open up new and productive problems or pathways?

The panel will consist of several short pieces (10-15 minutes) that may take the form of brief analyses, position papers, talking points, field notes, or quodlibets. Submit abstracts by June 1, 2011.