Call for Papers – DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 30th

Call for Papers: Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI) Grad Student Conference Premodern Disorder at the George Washington University: Friday, February 26th, 2016.

Foucault famously defines order as “that which is given in things as their inner law, the hidden network that determines the way they confront one another, and also that which has no existence except in the grid created by a glance, an examination, a language; and it is only in the blank spaces of this grid that order manifests itself in depth as though already there, waiting in silence for the moment of its expression” (The Order of Things, 1994: xx). For Foucault, the great order of the premodern episteme was similitude, equivalence, a God-ordained map that could apply as commensurately to the stars in the sky as to the lives of humans and animals. And yet, were these affinities and similitudes always so readily apparent to medieval and early modern peoples? Did an epistemology of an ordered cosmos police everyday life, make sense of quotidian activity? Or were there disturbances, disruptions, deviations from the ordained that resisted such simple mapping? Has contemporary scholarship excavated slippages in taxonomies and ladders of being, or identified movements across space and time that seem to resist formerly held historical reckonings?

Premodern Disorder seeks to assemble scholarship that examines the ruptures and aporias within a divinely ordered cartography:  failures of taxonomies, outbreaks of disorder, and manifestations of the incomprehensible. How did medieval and early modern people treat objects and bodies that resisted their schemas for classification? In what ways did premodern art respond to questions of transnationalism, provincialism, cross-cultural contact and geopolitics? How did the bourgeois  experience commerce when “Capitalism” was only an inchoate specter haunting the rapidly expanding market? What do we make of the transition from medieval dreams of the apocalypse as salvific to Renaissance depictions of the end-of-times as a chaotic furor and the end of all knowledge?

This symposium hopes to showcase papers from graduate students in the greater DC area that address the question of disorder in the premodern period. Topics under investigation can include, but are not limited to:

  • Affect, emotion, and humoral theory
  • Translation, globalization, and cultural-contact
  • Apocalypse and catastrophe; or premodern ecologies
  • Taxonomies, animality, agentic objects
  • Disability, sickness, monstrosity
  • Economics, politics, and religion
  • Waste and dirt; or cleanliness and the home
  • Fantasy and ideology
  • Reconsiderations of allegory and utopianism
  • The structuring and performance of the academy, then and now

We invite graduate students from all disciplines to present papers approximately 15 minutes in length. We also welcome unconventional presentations that still adhere to the time limit of 15 minutes. Pre-arranged panels or roundtable discussions are also welcome, so long as the panel does not exceed 1 hour.

If you would like to submit an abstract to Premodern Disorder at the George Washington University, please send an abstract of 300-500 words to amontroso@gwmail.gwu.edu NO LATER THAN October 30th, 2015.  If you would like to suggest a panel, please include abstracts for all participating speakers of the panel.

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