The Women’s Strategies of Memory project is coming to Leeds! I’m delighted to announce that the session proposals Emma Bérat and I put forward for Leeds next year have all been approved, and we’ll be fielding three brilliant panels of papers. Here’s a preview of our topic:
Memory, in the middle ages as now, was widely accessible to women as means of personal and political influence. Scholarship on the strategic and technical employment of memory in the middle ages has principally explored men’s practices. Our panels focus on representations of medieval women’s deliberate and strategic uses of memory in literature, art, and historical narrative.
We are particularly interested in women who perform remembering, forgetting, or recounting past events as a means of public or political power; and who manipulate histories or identities to construct or reconstruct the past, or to influence the memories of other characters. We also hope to explore women’s less conscious strategies of memory, such as forgetting as a way of compartmentalising traumatic emotions. Reexaminations of women who are accused (by other characters or the narrator) of errors of memory, such as forgetting, deliberate ignorance or manipulation of record, are also welcome.
We read a lot of really fascinating and diverse proposals back in the summer and autumn, and we finally narrowed the list down to a great cohort of presenters. We were especially keen that our sessions should reflect geographic, national and linguistic diversity, both in terms of papers and presenters, and I hope you’ll agree we managed.
I include the full programme notes, which we’ve just received from the conference committee, so you can plan your Leeds itinerary.
Women’s Strategies of Memory, I: Trauma and Reconstruction
This panel focuses on literary representations of women’s tactics for managing and revising personal traumatic memory, as well as the place of these memories in broader memorial discourses. Examining Rabbinic literature to crusader romance and English cycle plays, speakers explore how female characters’ deliberate reconstructions help to resist supersessionary retellings and to insert – in sensitive, healing, or aggressive ways – women’s perspectives into histories that seek to erase them.
Lucy Allen, ‘A Textile Habitus of Memory in Chaucer’s Legend of
Dvora Lederman Daniely, ‘Hanna the Maccabi: A Healing and Restorative Memory
from a Feminine Sexual Trauma in the Rabbinic Literature’
Daisy Black, ‘Re-Membering the Drowned: The Rebellious Recollection
of Noah’s Wife in the York, Chester, and Towneley
Emma Bridget O’Loughlin Bérat, ‘Retelling Rape: Social Power and Historical
Perspective in La Fille Du Conte De Pontieu’
Session Time: Mon. 02 July – 11.15-12.45
Session 226: Women’s Strategies of Memory, II: Visual Structures of Memory
This panel considers the ways in which women worked within established visual mnemonic systems and produced their own distinctive strategies of representation. Speakers explore how the creation and dissemination of material artefacts publicised connections between women, focusing on subjects from 4th-century sarcophagi to Swedish nuns’ books to the ordinatio of Cassandra’s prophecy in Troilus and Criseyde.
David Carrillo-Rangel, ‘Do not forget me if you live longer than me’: Strategies of Memory in the Construction of a Prayerbook from Vadstena Abbey
Ruen-chuan Ma, Cassandra’s Reconstructed Memory: Page Design and Fatalism in Troilus and Criseyde
Catherine Gines Taylor, Lamenting Susanna: Iconography, Sarcophagi, and the Art of Memorial
Session Time: Mon. 02 July – 14.15-15.45
Session 326: Women’s Strategies of Memory, III: Shaping the Political Landscape
This panel focuses on the tactics historical women used to construct, reconstruct, and manipulate the political memory of their communities and dynasties from Western Europe and across the Byzantine Empire. Speakers explore how women’s strategic forgetting, preservation, and selection help to shape shared transhistorical and transnational memory.
Lana Sloutsky, Women, Memory, Nostalgia, and the Translation of Byzantine Visual Culture after 1453
Cynthia Turner Camp, Forgetting Ælfthryth at Wherwell Abbey
Juliana Amorim Goskes, Performing Dynastic Memory in 14th-Century France: Jeanne de Bourgogne (d. 1348) – Capetian Princess and Valois Queen
Session Time: Mon. 02 July – 16.30-18.00