Leeds 2018: Women’s Strategies of Memory CFP

Conference season 2017 is nearly over. If you’re gearing up for next year, have a look at our CFP for Leeds 2018. The overarching theme of the conference is ‘memory,’ and Dr Emma Bérat and I are getting very excited about our planned sessions on ‘Women’s Strategies of Memory’. We want to hear from you!

The CFP is below, but we especially wanted to stress that we’re keen to see papers that speak to the geographic, linguistic and racial diversity of the Middle Ages.

Women’s Strategies of Memory: Representations in Literature and Art

 

Call for Papers for panel(s) proposal at Leeds IMC 2018, 2-5 July.

 

Philomela reflects on her metamorphosis. Eleanor of Castile constructs her future image with her tomb effigy. Chaucer’s Custance pretends to forget her origins. From the Iliad’s Hecuba to the Brut’s Tonwenne, women re-narrate their children’s infancy on the political stage. In wills, letters and literary commissions, women represent themselves in relation to the past. How straightforward are these acts of memory?

Memory, in the Middle Ages as now, was widely accessible to women as means of personal and political influence. Scholarship on medieval memory has principally explored men’s practices. But women, too, used and created strategic representations of the past to serve their own present or future purposes. We invite papers from any discipline, region and medieval period, which consider any aspect of the representation of women’s memory, including but not limited to the topics above.

Proposals might consider:

* women who perform remembering, forgetting, or recounting past events as a means of achieving power

* women who (re)construct histories and identities

* women who present denials or disruptions of known narratives

* women who manipulate the memories of other characters.

* women who use memory and forgetting to compartmentalise traumatic emotions

* women who are accused of errors of memory, such as omissions, ignorance or misrepresentation of the record.

Please contact Dr Lucy Allen (lucyallen505@gmail.com) and Dr Emma Bérat (eoloughl@uni-bonn.de) with an abstract of approximately 100 words and a brief biography by 31 July 2017.

Advertisements

‘Otherness’ and Conference Advice

As I went on twitter to pore longingly over the tweets for Leeds IMC, I found an (unrelated) post from the Chronicle being enthusiastically recommended. It’s full of excellent advice for anyone new to academic conferences, and it’s titled How to Talk to Famous Professors. Humanely, the author Robin Bernstein begins by pointing out how arse-clenchingly awkward it must be for your average relatively eminent academic to walk into a conference and be faced with a lemming-like procession of over-caffeinated doctoral students all intent on racing off a garbled summary of their thesis work to date (just me, then?), who become toe-curlingly awkward when faced with the person whose name is on their bookshelf. It’s good to be reminded that, if Famous Prof does beat a hasty retreat after such an encounter, it’s probably because s/he simply finds it as awkward as you do. Or because your thesis summary length exceeds their bladder capacity by around 90,000 words.

It isn’t charitable of me to pick holes in good advice. But, I’ve been listening to a lot of colleagues’ pretty awful experiences of conferences lately, and one thing struck me as profoundly ‘off’ about Bernstein’s advice. Bernstein suggests that, if struggling for chit-chat, you might fall back on an old conversational standby.

To wit, the question ‘Where are you from, originally?’

I have, as the youth say, many feelz about this question, but instead of offering them, I shall quote Zadie Smith’s British-born son of immigrants, Millat Iqbal. Told he looks ‘exotic,’ Millat is faced with the aforesaid question.

“Oh,” said Millat, putting on what he called a bud-bud ding-ding accent, “You are meaning where from I am originally.”

Joyce looked confused. “Yes, originally.”

“Whitechapel,” said Millat, pulling out a fag. “Via the Royal London hospital and the 207 bus.”

There are many ways to put your foot in it at conferences. But I’m fairly sure that using a phrase that’s stereotypically associated with ingrained racism/xenophobia is one of the more easily-avoided ones.