New College Conference, March 8-10, 2012, Sarasota, FL: Call for papers: "Does Beowulf Allow (for) Illustration?" (due 9/5/2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Matthew J. Snyder / University of Florida
contact email: 

This session will seek to explore the question: Can Beowulf be illustrated, or does the poem exhibit and/or foster an inherent antagonism between sign and icon? Recent efforts to provide illustration that augments (or perhaps subsumes or subordinates) the poem's 3182 lines of text, including Seamus Heaney and John D. Niles' Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition (Norton, 2007), the graphic novel Beowulf: Monster Slayer (Graphic Universe, 2008), and Robert Zemeckis' 2007 motion-capture animated film, all would seem to push back against what might be termed the text's opacity of the visual imaginary. Do these works and others, including various Beowulf adaptations to film and new media, succeed in their self-appointed task of turning the poem into a (moving-)picture book? Can they? Why might – or might not – these approaches represent successful or failed (re)interpretations or adaptations of the epic, and is there some other logic or desire behind the apparent drive to illustrate Beowulf that we ought to try to get at?

Please submit 250-word abstracts of proposed twenty-minute papers in the body of an email with a current CV attached. The deadline for the submission of abstracts for this session is 5 September 2011. For more on the New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, visit

Matthew J. Snyder
Department of English
University of Florida