CFP: Hunting for the Animal Subject

Hunting for the Animal Subject in Anglo-Saxon England: a Roundtable (Kalamazoo 2017):
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies – Kalamazoo, MI – May 11-14, 2017


A recent trend in medieval studies and the humanities at large has been a “turn” to the animal. While medievalists have long been interested in bestiaries, beast epics, and other texts populated with nonhumans, the research that is produced is inevitably concerned with what those works say about human culture rather than what they can reveal about perceptions of animals as animals. The field of animal studies (alternatively known as critical animal theory), in contrast, focuses on how humans have sought to differentiate themselves from nonhuman animals and how this perceived seperation has determined the human treatment of and responses to nonhumans. Animal studies seeks to critique the past and present mistreatment of nonhumans but also to envision an affirmative and ethical form of response to the animal, to move beyond the hierarchical, Cartesian (and Augustinian) dualism that to date has largely defined the human-animal relationship.

While Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Susan Crane, and Karl Steel have recently brought such concerns to bear on medieval literature in invaluable studies, the focus of their work is usually on the later Middle Ages. This roundtable discussion will thus take as its focus human-animal interactions in the literary and material culture of Anglo-Saxon England. Presenters will be invited to discuss, in a 10-minute talk, an animal-related question in their own research and to reflect on their methods for understanding how animals were perceived by the Anglo-Saxons. Given the limited corpus of written texts that survive from Anglo-Saxon England, the question of the animal in this period is by necessity a multidisciplinary one, and specialists in fields as varied as philology, literary criticism, philosophy, art history, and archaeology are welcome.

Please submit an abstract (preferably 300 words or less) as well as a completed Participant Information Form (found here: to Matt Spears ( no later than September 15, 2016.

Poetry at the Post: Off to Istanbul!


The sultan of moisture creeps
on a flagstone shadowed by nettles.
He carries his turban on his back.

photo by 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0}

I was excited to discover this poem. Not only does it have a connection to Istanbul (my new “home” in one week!) but it is also has an animal at its core. (#mylifeisabestiary).

Its three stanzas correspond to the components of a medieval bestiary: the description of the beast, the intertextual, and the lesson. (I’m still puzzling, however, over the lesson.)

Its connection to an older form heightens the poem’s images and language. All work in tandem to evoke a mysterious and exotic world.

Only in a summer in a palace
The Turkish guidebook labels
The Convent of the Whirling Dervishes


“A Snail in Istanbul” introduced me to the poetry of James Sutherland-Smith. I discovered he has a nomadic nature. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Sutherland-Smith now lives in Slovakia. You can read more of his poetry at

El león

April 18, 2014

My life is a bestiary~
What does that mean?
Still wondering~

I bought this lion from a street vendor on Calle Alcalá in Oaxaca last night.  Wooden comb, bookmark and blusa vendors appear daily but this was the first time I had seen this particular man from the Mixteca and his precious handmade animals. There was even a billy goat with a fringe beard.

I was partial to the lion and now it is mine.  I’ve named him Priam. I let Priam, the lion, roam free; he is not caged.

Priam reminds me of “Felinos” by Juan José Arreola. You can read a fragment of it here:

If you want more beasts, grab a copy of the entire book Bestiario. You won’t regret it, especially if your life is a bestiary like mine.