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.