Poetry at the Post: Gender and Emotion

Channel Firing
That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgment-day

Sections of the 1066 Medieval Mosaic re-creation in New Zealand
Sections of the 1066 Medieval Mosaic re-creation in New Zealand

Gender and Medieval Studies Conference 2016
The University of Hull
Gender and Emotion

6th – 8th January 2016

Call for Papers
The grief-stricken faces at Edward’s deathbed in the Bayeux Tapestry; the ambiguous ‘ofermod’ in The Battle of Maldon; the body-crumpling anguish of the Virgin witnessing the Man of Sorrows; the mirth of the Green Knight; the apoplectic anger of the mystery plays’ Herod and the visceral visionary experiences of Margery of Kempe all testify to the ways in which the medieval world sought to express, perform, idealise and understand emotion.
Yet while such expressions of emotion are frequently encountered by medievalists working across the disciplines, defining, quantifying and analysing the purposes of emotion and its relationship to gender often proves difficult. Are personal items placed in early Anglo Saxon graves a means for the living to let go of, or perpetuate emotion, and how are these influenced by the body in the grave? Do different literary and historical forms lend themselves to diverse ways of expressing men’s and women’s emotion? How does a character expressing emotion on stage or in artwork use body, gender and articulation to communicate emotion to their viewer? Moreover, is emotion viewed differently depending on the gendered identity of the body expressing it? Is emotion and its reception used to construct, deconstruct, challenge or confirm gender identities?
This conference seeks to explore the manifestations, performances and functions of emotion in the early to late Middle Ages, and to examine the ways in which emotion is gendered and used to construct gender identities.

A segment of the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, rallying Duke William's troops during the Battle of Hastings in 1066
A segment of the Bayeux Tapestry depicting Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, rallying Duke William’s troops during the Battle of Hastings in 1066

Proposals are now being accepted for 20 minute papers. Topics to consider may include, but are not limited to:
Gender and emotional expression: representing and performing emotion
The emotional body
Philosophies of emotion: theory and morality
Emotional objects and vessels of emotion
Language and emotion and the languages of emotion
Preserving or perpetuating emotion
Emotions to be dealt with: repressing, curtailing, channelling, transforming
Forbidden emotion
Living through (someone else’s) emotion
The emotions of war and peace
The emotive ‘other’
Place and emotion
Queer emotion

We welcome scholars from a range of disciplines, including history, literature, art history, archaeology and drama. A travel fund is available for postgraduate students who would otherwise be unable to attend.
Please email proposals of no more than 300 words to organiser Daisy Black at d.black@hull.ac.uk by the 7th September 2015. All queries should also be directed to this address. Please also include biographical information detailing your name, research area, institution and level of study (if applicable)

Thwaite Hall University of Hull, UK
Thwaite Hall
University of Hull, UK

Poetry at the Post: Mad For Brittany At This Moment….


Marie de France, translated Judith P. Shoaf ©1991

The adventure in my next tale
The Bretons made into a lai
Called “Laustic,” I’ve heard them say, In Brittany; in French they call
The “laustic” a “rossignol”
And in good English, “nightingale.”

Near St. Malo there was a town
(Somewhere thereabouts) of great renown.

Marie de France, from an illuminated manuscript now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France: BnF, Arsenal Library, Ms. 3142 fol. 256.
Marie de France, from an illuminated manuscript now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France: BnF, Arsenal Library, Ms. 3142 fol. 256.

My mother died this past February. She was 92. My father died in 1985. He had been a medic during World War II. He landed in Normandy three days after the initial invasion picking up the dead and wounded from the beaches through France and into Germany. His last assignment was at a concentration camp. I don’t know where as he never spoke of it. My mother said he had nightmares for a long while after the war ended and he returned home. He would wake up screaming, “They all want their moms.”

Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was a memory falls out of the world. 
—From All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I just finished reading Doerr’s sad but lovely book about a blind girl, a mechanical wizard and two lives caught in an inexplicable time. Much of the book takes place in St. Malo-an historic town almost completely destroyed by the Allies in 1944. If you haven’t read this award-winning novel yet—you must.

“Saint-Malo Novembre 2011 (10)” by Moustachioed Womanizer – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Poetry at the Post: Heading Back in Time in Sarasota with a Fabliau!

Fabliau of Florida

Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,…

To this droning of the surf.

The twentieth biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies will take place 10–13 March 2016 in . The program committee invites 250-word abstracts of proposed twenty-minute papers on topics in European and Mediterranean history, literature, art, music and religion from the fourth to the seventeenth centuries. In celebration of the conference’s twentieth anniversary, abstracts are particularly solicited for a thread of special sessions reflecting the conference’s traditional interdisciplinary focus: that is, papers that blur methodological, chronological, and geographical boundaries, or that combine subjects and/or approaches in unexpected ways. As always, planned sessions are also welcome. The deadline for all abstracts is 15 September 2015; please see the guidelines below.

Further anniversary events will include a retrospective panel on the conference’s forty-year history and a Saturday evening banquet. In addition, the second Snyder Prize (named in honor of the conference’s founder Lee Snyder, who died in 2012), will be given to the best paper presented at the conference by a junior scholar. The prize carries an honorarium of $400.

The conference is held on the campus of the honors college of the Florida state system. The college, located on Sarasota Bay, is adjacent to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which will offer tours arranged for conference participants. Sarasota is noted for its beautiful public beaches, theater, food, art and music. Average temperatures in March are a pleasant high of 77F (25C) and a low of 57F (14C).

More information will be posted here on the conference website (http://www.newcollegeconference.org) as it becomes available, including plenary speakers, conference events, and area attractions.

“Sarasota Ringling estate”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

If you are considering submitting an abstract or session proposal, please be aware of the following:
1) So that we can accommodate as many scholars as possible, no one may present a paper in more than one session of the conference. Furthermore, no one should commit to more than two out of the following three activities: 1) presenting a paper; 2) chairing a session; and 3) participating in a roundtable. Organizing sessions does not count in these calculations, but session organizers are subject to them along with everyone else (i.e. you may organize as many sessions as you like, but you may only present one paper, and chair a separate session).

2) Session chairs should not also present in the panel they are chairing. Session organizers may either chair or present in a panel that they have arranged, but not both. If you are organizing a planned session, you may either arrange for a chair and include him/her in your proposal, or submit your panel without a chair and conference organizers will assign one. (The acceptance of your panel will not depend on whether or not your planned session already has a chair.)

3) Those organizing planned sessions should also know that the organizing committee strongly prefers sessions that include participants from more than one institution.

Please email info@newcollegeconference.org with any questions.

Poetry at the Post: Searching for Illumination in the Mystical and the Modern

Note to ekphrastic poets: Check out this upcoming conference at St. Hilda’s College. 

There is also a call for contributing artists outside of academia as an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by mystical ideas will be held in the Turl Street Kitchen in central Oxford on Friday evening, January 8,  2016. 


The irresistible and benevolent light
brushes through the angel-wing begonias,
the clippings of ruddy ears for the living room.


Art and Articulation: Illuminating the Mystical, Medieval and Modern.
8th-9th January, 2016,
St Hilda’s College, Oxford

The relationship between word and image, and the ways in which medieval art (be it visual, textual, or both) operates as a means of expressing the inexpressible, will be explored in a two-day conference held in Oxford under the auspice of the Mystical Theology Network.

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together theologians, art historians, and literary scholars to examine the ways in which various forms of artistic expression have been and can be used to articulate the mystical or that which cannot easily be spoken. The principal focus will be art and articulation in medieval works and modern responses to them.

The conference will investigate the role of art and its connection to forms of mystical knowing through various strands. From visual art, through optics, apophasis and ekphrasis to mystical theology, this multidisciplinary approach to illumination will shed new light on the role of art in mystical contemplation.

St. Hilda's College Oxford, UK
St. Hilda’s College
Oxford, UK

We welcome submissions for 20-minute papers and proposals for sessions of three 20-minute papers.

Topics may include, but are by no means confined to:

The interplay between mysticism and art, both visual and textual.
Art (visual, textual or both) as a means of communicating that which is hard to articulate.
Theorisations of art and beauty and how these relate to notions of mysticism.
Transformative visions and the therapeutic effect of ‘seeing as’.
Medieval and modern ideas on optics, seeing and contemplation/mysticism.
The intersection between visual and textual art.
The role of illuminations and annotations in medieval manuscripts.
Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to the conference organisers by 1st September 2015.

We warmly welcome papers from graduate students.

We also warmly welcome contributions from artists outside of academia. For more information about contributing as an artist please contact Tom de Freston.

Music Building St. Hilda's College
Music Building
St. Hilda’s College

Poetry at the Post: Falling in Love with the Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X

Alfonso X, El Sabio. Cantigas de Santa Maria: Núm. 10, «Rosa de beldad’e de parecer».

(From Lyrics of the Middle Ages, ed. James J. Wilhelm. NY: Garland Publ., 1990, 244.)

“Alfonso wrote or organized the Cantigas de Santa María, a collection of [427] poems in honor of the Virgin, often longish narratives relating her miracles. One of the most important music collections in the Middle Ages, the songs were often sung on pilgrimages. The text for this poem in Alvar-Beltrán, pp. 423-424; music, 441. For a tape of the Cantigas, Astrée E7707.”

Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords.
Rose of beauty and fine appearance
And flower of happiness and pleasure,
lady of most merciful bearing,
And Lord for relieving all woes and cares;
Rose of roses and flower of flowers,
Lady of ladies, Lord of lords. Rosa das rosas e Fror das frores,
Dona das donas, Sennor das sennores.
Rosa de beldad’ e de parecer
e Fror d’alegria e de prazer,
Dona en mui piadosa ser
Sennor en toller coitas e doores.
Rosa das rosas e Fror das frores,
Dona das donas, Sennor das sennores.

Alfonso X as a judge, from his Libro de los Dados,[2] completed ca. 1280
Alfonso X as a judge, from his Libro de los Dados,[2] completed ca. 1280
Check out this opportunity to learn more about Mester de Clerecía in El Paso, Texas this Fall.

“The Cleric’s Craft: Crossroads of Medieval Spanish Literature and Modern Critique” 

October 22-24, 2015
University of Texas El Paso

Why Mester de Clerecía in 2015?
The thirteenth century was a dynamic time in the Iberian Peninsula, as political and cultural changes were occurring throughout the realms that occupied what is now Spain and Portugal. Much of the literature of this period was learned in nature and composed by clerics, and although the works were read and studied individually from the time of composition, they did not see collective examination until the nineteenth century. It was in 1865 that the Spanish scholar Manuel Milà i Fontanals used the term “mester de clerecía” (the cleric’s craft) for the first time to refer to this learned literary production.

The study of the mester de clerecía is now 150 years old, and an international conference entitled “The Cleric’s Craft: Crossroads of Medieval Spanish Literature and Modern Critique” will be convened in 2015 to mark this important milestone, to reassess this literature and its study, as well as to chart new directions for the field.

For more info, watch this video.

Miniatures, Cantiga #35
Miniatures, Cantiga #35

And, here is a link to the music as played by Narcisco Yepes accompanied by the Trio Yepes.

UTEP Campus
UTEP Campus

Poetry at the Post: Cruising Medieval Manuscripts with John Lydgate

from The Testament of John Lydgate

Beholde, o man! lyft up thyn eye and see
What mortall peyne I suffre for thi trespace.
With pietous voys I crye and sey to the:
Beholde my woundes, behold my blody face,
Beholde the rebukes that do me so manace,
Beholde my enemyes that do me so despice,
And how that I, to reforme the to grace,
Was like a lambe offred in sacryfice.

John Lydgate, English monk and poet
John Lydgate, English monk and poet


Manuscript as Medium
March 5-6, 2016
Speakers Include:
Jessica Brantley, Yale University
Kathryn Rudy, University of St. Andrews
Andrew Taylor, University of Ottawa
This conference is devoted particularly to current concern with manuscripts in all their physicality. Across the disciplines, investigators delight in the sometimes untidy, often beautiful, pages of manuscripts-bound as apparently heterogeneous miscellanies, glossed and amended over the centuries, enhanced with illuminations or with printed illustrations latterly pasted in.

We welcome papers on any topic related to these issues, including technical investigations of production; manuscripts and monastic communities; image and text on the manuscript page; Jewish-Christian relations and sacred books; Islam, the west, and manuscripts; manuscripts as stand-ins for sacred or political figures; the hybrid manuscript-print codex in the age of incunabula; accessibility and immateriality of the manuscript in the digital age.

We invite abstracts for traditional twenty-minute presentations or short contributions to a Flash Session; each Flash paper will be 5 minutes long and should be accompanied by a focused visual presentation.

St. John's College, c.1905
St. John’s College, c.1905

Please submit an abstract and cover letter with contact information by September 15, 2015 to Center for Medieval Studies, FMH 405b, Bronx, NY 10458, by e-mail to medievals@fordham.edu, or by fax to 718.817.3987.

Poetry at the Post: Moments of Becoming

Becoming a Redwood
Stand in a field long enough, and the sounds
start up again. The crickets, the invisible
toad who claims that change is possible,…


‘Moments of Becoming’ Conference


Moments of Becoming: Transitions and Transformations in Early Modern Europe

University of Limerick, Ireland, 20-21 November 2015.

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to explore the theme of ‘becoming’ in early modern European and Irish culture. The early modern period itself is often understood as a time of transition, but how did the people of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries experience periods of transformation/transition in their own lives and work, and how were these processes accomplished and accommodated? Conference papers will explore changes to personal, professional, religious or political identity and identifications, as well as understandings of transformations of state, status and nature more broadly.

"UniversityOfLimerick PlasseyHouse" by Lukemcurley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia -
“UniversityOfLimerick PlasseyHouse” by Lukemcurley – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia –

Plenary Speakers: Professor Daniel Carey, Professor Raymond Gillespie, Professor Alison Rowlands.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers on themes that might include:

Transition in religion and politics

Religious conversion
Alterations to political sympathies
Migration and naturalisation
Becoming a soldier, priest, rebel, martyr, hero or villain
Personal transformations

Acquiring competencies, skills or professional training
Social mobility, upwards or downwards
Becoming a parent
Rites of passage
Transition and the supernatural

Death and movement to the next world
Magical and miraculous transformations
Textual and performative transformations

Responses to societal transitions in poetry and prose
Transforming texts via translation, printing or performance
The use of space and material culture in ceremonial/ritual contexts

Please submit an abstract of about 250 words to Richard Kirwan (Richard.Kirwan@ul.ie) or Clodagh Tait (Clodagh.Tait@mic.ul.ie) before 10th July 2015.

This conference will occur under the auspices of the Limerick Early Modern Forum of the University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College. The conference is funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme. The organisers plan to publish a volume of essays drawn from the conference papers.

Organisers: Dr Liam Chambers (MIC), Dr Michael J. Griffin (UL), Dr Richard Kirwan (UL), Dr Clodagh Tait (MIC).

Poetry at the Post: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in 101 tweets by Eric Weiskott

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as translated by A.S. Kline

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Soon as the siege and assault had ceased at Troy,
the burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes,
the traitor who trammels of treason there wrought
was tried for his treachery, the foulest on earth.

Last year while reading Beowulf and googling everything I could find on the topic, I landed on a “tweet translation” by Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne, who neatly compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets( #BEOW100)  as a way of engaging her students in a look at “Beowulf from Then ’til Now.”

Intrigued by Treharne’s endeavor, I attempted to replicate her task by tweeting Song of Roland in 291 tweets (#SOR291). It was tedious and half way through, I almost gave up. I was constantly frustrated by forcing meaty text into 140 characters yet the process gave me an inside look into this medieval classic and made me understand how difficult it is to create a “really good translation.”

So, I thought I was done with all of this “tweeting the classics stuff,”  but via the marvels of the small world over the net, I was connected with medieval specialist Eric Weiskott who now plans to continue the “tweetization’ of medieval texts with his “translation” of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Look for #SG101 in the very near future.

Lady Bertilak at Gawain's bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Lady Bertilak at Gawain’s bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Having never read this 14th century chivalric romance. I’ll be adding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to the reading list in The Global Reading Group. Send me a note if you’d like to join. And, yes, we will be looking at Weiskott’s translation along with A. S. Kline’s and others. It should be a fun read!

And when this Britain was built by this baron rich,
bold men were bred therein, of battle beloved,
in many a troubled time turmoil that wrought.

6 Things I Learned from Retelling The Song of Roland in 291 Tweets #SOR291



I was fascinated by the story of Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne who compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets. #Beowulf100

Could I do the same with another medieval epic, The Song of Roland? Well, I decided to try. I based my tweeted version on the 1963 prose translation by poet W. S. Merwin. Instead of 100 tweets, I opted for 291, which corresponds to the 291 laisses, or stanzas typically found in medieval French literature, specifically French epic poetry.

I had a time frame—one month from start to end—and although I took a two week break from tweeting while in India, I actually did complete the project.

So what did I discover in all that tweeting?

1. The Song of Roland is repetitive. For example, there’s the question of whether or not to blow the horn.

LXXXIV Roland, for God’s sake, blast your horn! cries Oliver. ‪#SOR291

LXXXV Blast your horn! No! I will not be shamed! says Roland. #SOR291

LXXXVI The horn! The horn!  Oliver begs once again. Roland replies I am eager for battle! #SOR291

LXXXVII No more talk of horns! cries Roland. We will meet the enemy head on. #SOR291

Or take the fainting. Roland faints; he is revived; he faints again. Next Charles the King faints a few times. So does the Archbishop. You get the point.

But, of course, this all makes sense because The Song of Roland is a chanson de geste, or “song of deeds” and songs tend to include repetitive lyrics or refrains.

2. The Song of Roland is brutal. Hand to hand combat with halberds and swords is bloody. It is not pretty. War is tough and this is a book about war.

CVII Oliver draws his sword and slices Justin of Val Ferree. #SOR291

CVIII More Saracens are split open by the French. #SOR291

3. The Song of Roland is a propaganda piece. Written a few hundred years after the time of Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, it plays fast and loose with the historical facts and, instead, gears its message towards recruitment for the Second Crusade standing firmly on the side of the Christians. Mountjoy!

4. The Song of Roland is a book about men. The only women (Alde and the Queen of Spain)  who appear on the stage briefly are but paper dolls in this story of men.

CCLXVIII Alde, the one promised, learns of Roland’s death. She dies rather than take up with another. #SOR291

5. The Song of Roland is not The Iliad. Both books are books of war and are full of nasty killings—thousands upon thousands of young men being slaughtered in hand-to-hand combat but The Song of Roland lacks the comedic interludes from the soap-opera drama of the Greek gods. There is, however,  one similarity in that both Zeus and God interfere in the affairs of the mortals and ultimately influence the outcomes of the wars.

5. The Song of Roland should be called The Song of Charles the King. It is Charles who takes the journey and returns home a changed man. In the end, Charlemagne realizes he is merely a puppet for God’s war on the pagans. Therefore, Charles not Roland fits the mold of the epic hero.

CCXCI The night darkens. Gabriel appears with a call to arms. Oh God, laments Charles the king, my life is a burden. The End. #SOR291

291 tweets is a lot of tweets. Would I do it again? Probably not, but maybe.