Category Archives: News

Kalamazoo 2017: Session announcement

Our roundtable was recently approved by the programming committee of the 2017 International Congress on Medieval Studies. The roundtable, “Saintly Bodies,” will feature six short papers from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Read our proposal, check out our exciting line-up of speakers, and mark your calendars for Kalamazoo!

Saintly Bodies: Materiality, Manuscripts, Movement
Organizers: Jenny C. Bledsoe (Emory University) and Lynneth Miller (Baylor University)

As works such as Caroline Walker Bynum’s Christian Materiality have demonstrated, the relationship between materiality and spiritual practice is often one fraught with complications and seeming contradictions. The tension between decaying material objects such as bodies, manuscripts, or relics highlights the discrepancy between the spiritual ideas these objects represent and the reality of the corruptibility inherent to all material objects.  When the material body in question is one gendered female, the relationship becomes even more complex.

This panel, “Saintly Bodies: Materiality, Manuscripts, Movement,” seeks to further explore the relationship between female bodies, material objects, and spiritual discourse and practice. How does gender affect the relationship between material objects such as bodies, manuscripts, and relics and the spiritual ideas tied to or communicated through these objects? What can a gendered approach to studies of materiality reveal about medieval literature, history, and religion?

This panel will take a multidisciplinary approach to these questions, drawing on manifold methodologies in order to address these questions as fully as possible. Our presenters represent a variety of professional levels (associate and assistant professors and PhD candidates and students) and address the topic from different disciplines (art history, history, and literature), periods (from Anglo-Saxon hagiography to the present-day reception of a medieval Liègeois holy woman), and regions (England, Italy, the low countries). We have chosen a six-person roundtable format for our panel in order to facilitate cross-disciplinary exchange and productive audience-engaging discussion following six seven-minute papers.

“Translated Bodies and Traveling Souls: Movement in Anglo-Saxon Hagiography”
Rebecca Straple, Western Michigan University

“Sacrilegious ‘Relics’: Female Bodies in the Tale of the Cursed Dancing Carolers”
Lynneth Miller, Baylor University

“Reworking Relics: Painting the Teodolinda Chapel in Monza”
Laura Maria Somenzi, Emory University

“The Lives and Afterlives of Holy Women: Medieval Spirituality and Seventeenth-Century Printing in the Low Countries”
Barbara Zimbalist, University of Texas, El Paso

“Ida of Nivelles in Manuscript, Print, and the Translated Collection”
Sara Ritchey, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

“Finding Women Saints in the Body of the Text”
Courtney Rydel, Washington College

Kalamazoo 2016: Early Middle English Society session announcement

For the Early Middle English Society, I have organized a session on vernacular devotional manuscripts with Carla María Thomas (New York University) for the 2016 International Congress on Medieval Studies. Carla will preside over the session, which will feature the following papers.

“Hit iseie aboc iwrite”: Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Devotional Manuscripts
“Constructing Form in the Twelfth Century: The Worcester Fragments and Homiletic Verse”
Leslie Carpenter, Fordham University

“A Hidden Link: Lambeth Palace Library MS 522 and Le Chasteu d’amur
Emily Ulrich, Yale University

“The Virgin, the Vernacular, and MS Royal 17 A. xxvii”
Jenny C. Bledsoe, Emory University

Kalamazoo 2016: Women’s Words session announcement

With Lainie Pomerleau (University of Georgia), I have organized a special roundtable session on “Women’s Words” for the 2016 International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Women’s Words: Female Instruction in the Medieval British Isles
“‘Ne shal not Blancheflour lerne with me?’: Depicting and Actualizing Female Learning in the Auchinleck Manuscript”
Emma Osborne, University of Glasgow

“‘Ye do the wrong and not the ryght’: Women’s Advice and The Erle of Tolous
Sarah Lindsay, Milligan College

“Teaching by Example: Julian of Norwich’s Devotional Hermeneutics”
Jessica Barr, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“The Unhelpful Wife: Comparing Women’s Advice in the Early Irish Tales ‘Bricriu’s Feast’ and ‘The Tale of Mac Da Thó’s Pig”
Jennifer L. Knight, University of South Florida

“‘Venomous Allurements’: Narrative in Women’s Conduct Manuals”
Sarah Mayo, University of Georgia

CFP, Kalamazoo ICMS 2016: “Hit iseie aboc iwrite”

“Hit iseie aboc iwrite”: Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Devotional Manuscripts
Early Middle English Society Sponsored Session
51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
May 12-15, 2016

The Early Middle English Society invites paper proposals for our session, “‘Hit iseie aboc iwrite’: Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Vernacular Devotional Manuscripts.” Vernacular texts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in England often fall in the gap between the two major fields of literary study, Old English and Middle English. While these texts have begun to receive the scholarly attention they deserve, religious and devotional texts are too often marginalized as not “literary.”

We invite paper proposals that work to situate twelfth- and thirteenth-century devotional texts in their manuscript context, allowing us to assess these texts’ authorship, intended readership, use, and reuse. Manuscript studies often engage with questions of “use,” and Claire M. Waters’s presentation at Kalamazoo 2015 asked us to consider the way that medieval religious literature joins utilitarian and aesthetic aims. The question of “use” might prove to be a valuable organizing principle for this session, encompassing the didactic goals of devotional texts, the assemblage of newer and older devotional materials in miscellanies, and the way in which authors, scribes, and illuminators shape manuscript content to suit a particular audience. We are interested in a wide range of approaches to manuscript studies, including paleographical and codicological examinations of script, illumination, layout, and versification, as well as explorations of manuscripts’ orientation to space, place, and local identity.

According to our mission statement, the Early Middle English Society “seeks to promote the study and scholarly discussion of English literary and cultural production from the Norman Conquest to the mid-fourteenth century, especially in relation to the two areas that book-end ours: the Anglo-Saxon period and the Middle English period after the plague.” As a result, we invite proposals that explore how Early Middle English manuscripts relate to Anglo-Saxon and later Middle English literary and religious culture. In this session, we also strongly encourage papers that discuss non-English vernacular languages and their manuscripts, including Anglo-Norman and Celtic languages.

Please submit an abstract and Participant Information Form to Jenny C. Bledsoe (Emory University) at by September 15, 2015.

CFP, Kalamazoo ICMS 2016: Women’s Words

Women’s Words: Female Instruction in the Medieval British Isles
51st International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI
May 12¬15, 2016

We invite you to participate in our session “Women’s Words: Female Instruction in the Medieval British Isles” at the 2016 meeting of the International Congress of Medieval Studies, May 12 – 16, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.

Our session invites papers which explore the relationship between teaching texts and learning women in conjunction with the language, locations, and spaces of female education. Submissions may include discussions of vernacular and Latin learning, spiritual and non-religious feminine instruction, the iconography and depiction of female learning, and the presentation and exchange of educational materials in a manuscript culture.

We hope to address gaps in current research and to explore the dynamics of female pedagogical literature, the creation of gendered instructional voices, and the forms and genres of women’s educational material, including explicitly didactic texts as well as books of manners, romances, and hagiography. We also invite papers examining the societal significance and influence of medieval women’s instructional literature especially in relation to works written and produced by women writers. In order to facilitate a dialogue between individual presentations, we will limit topics to the British Isles, but will leave the time period open to all medieval texts (500-1500).

Please submit a one-page abstract and a completed Participant Information Form (found at to session organizers Jenny C. Bledsoe (Emory University) and Lainie Pomerleau (University of Georgia) at by September 15, 2015.

Kalamazoo 2015: Hagiography Society session announcement

For the Hagiography Society, I have organized a panel on “Global Sanctity” for the 2015 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo.

Global Sanctity: Demons and the Demonic
“Biographical Episodes from the Life of Iblis, the Islamic Satan, as Narrated in Islamic Historical, Exegetical, and Other Literary Sources”
Aram Shahin, James Madison University

“Relics Possessed by Demons: Inter-confessional Conflict in Medieval Syriac Hagiography”
Liza Anderson, Yale University

“The Devil Made Me Do It: Hrotsvit’s Theophilus and Basilius”
Sarah Bogue, Emory University

Kalamazoo 2015: Hortulus session announcement

In my role as the co-editor of Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal of Medieval Studies, I have organized a Hortulus-sponsored session for the 2015 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. We are excited to announce the papers selected for our panel.

Pilgrimage, Travel, and Exploration
“Inverse Pilgrimage: Wandering Relics in the Hagiographical Tradition of Saint Amand”
Kate M. Craig, University of California, Los Angeles

“‘You take the high road and I’ll take the low road’: Exploring the Experience of Pilgrimage to Monastic and Civic Shrines in Twelfth-Century Apulia”
Amy Devenney, University of Leeds

“The Rise of Pictorial Narrative in the Cult of Saint Ursula”
Andrew R. Sears, University of California, Berkeley

“John Mandeville Travels to British South Africa”
Galia Halpern, New York University

Kalamazoo 2014: Session announcement

I have organized and the Kalamazoo ICMS programming committee has approved two special sessions under the theme, “Speech, Performance, and Authority in Later Medieval Literature,” for the 2014 Congress.

Speech, Performance, and Authority in Later Medieval Religious Literature I
“Who’s Taking Now? Dialogues in the Works of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe”
Therese Novotny, Marquette University

“Figuring out the Son’s Dede: Julian of Norwich and the Theology of Pun”
James Howard, Emory University

“The Last Words of Robert Henryson’s Fox”
Chad Schrock, Lee University

Speech, Performance and Authority in Later Medieval Religious Literature II
“Texting Yourself: Vernacular Confessional Texts and the Verbalization of Interiority”
Krista A. Murchison, University of Ottawa

The Gast of Gy: Appropriation of a Personal Purgatory”
Deirdre Riley, Binghamton University

“Like an Empty Bubble: Demonic Saints, Illitterata, and Cura Mulierum from the Fourth Lateran Council to the Fifth Monarchy”
Stacie Vos, Yale Divinity School

CFP, Kalamazoo ICMS 2014

Speech, Performance, and Authority in Later Medieval Religious Literature
49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 8-11 May 2014

This session will explore the use of speech, voice, and dialogue in later medieval religious literature, including texts produced during the high and late Middle Ages (c. 1000-1500). The session will engage with current scholarly discourse from a number of disciplinary angles, including studies of the performativity and rhetoric of medieval religious texts as well as the study of the history of dialogue. The papers in the session will seek to expand upon J.L. Austin’s historic studies of performative speech and also to converse with newer criticism, such as Mary Hayes’s 2011 book, Divine Ventriloquism in Medieval English Literature: Power, Anxiety, and Subversion. Such scholarship on religious literature is burgeoning, as evidenced by the large audience for a similar session at the 2013 Congress, entitled “Voice, Dialogue, and Conversation in Later Medieval Religious Literature.” While limiting itself to religious literature in particular, the session will allow a number of scholars to engage with questions of voice and speech from various perspectives. Scholars of visionary literature may contribute by exploring God’s voice and the mystic’s authorial and visionary “I”. Because this session does not limit itself to the religious literature of a particular language, a paper might engage with the fascinating linguistic and theological question of whether or not God speaks in the vernacular or in Latin. Other presenters may explore the medieval Christian’s voice in prayer and his or her engagement in dialogue with the divine. Later medieval religious writings provide a nearly exclusive avenue through which the typically politically voiceless – namely the laity and women – are able to speak. By engaging with the question of voice, medieval literary scholars will gain the opportunity to enhance their engagement with the performative aspects of religious literature and address questions of listening, speaking, and conversing in the historically-significant genre of religious dialogue literature.

Submit proposals to Jenny C. Bledsoe at by September 10, 2013.