Failure in the Archives
Due: July 31, 2014

30 October 2014

Call for Papers

The Centre for Editing Lives and Letters (CELL) is pleased to announce ‘Failure in the Archives’, a conference celebrating the frustrations of archival research, to be held on 30 October 2014 and featuring a keynote address by Natalie Zemon Davis.

‘Failure in the Archives’ will provide a forum to examine everything that doesn’t belong in traditional conferences and publications, from dead-end research trips to unanswered questions.

How do we respond to the resistance, or worse, the silences and gaps, that we find in the archives? Scholarship tends toward success stories, but this conference seeks presentations from a range of disasters that arise when navigating the depths of the archive: damaged, destroyed, mislabelled, misrepresented materials, forgeries, exaggerated significance, and gaps in the historical record. Overall, the experience of failure in the archive is truly interdisciplinary, skewing the warp and woof of close reading and big data alike, not to mention posing everyday problems for archivists and librarians working on the frontlines to make their collections accessible

We welcome proposals on any aspect of early modern archival work, manuscript or print, covering the period 1500-1750. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Materials which challenge cataloguing standards
  • Uncatalogued material – how to find it, how to access it, how to use it
  • Inaccurate cataloguing – tensions between past and present.
  • Broken or dispersed collections
  • Damaged, destroyed, or compromised collections
  • The ethics of maintaining archives
  • The ethics of archival research – especially when working with sensitive material
  • Absences and silences in the archive
  • Difficulties conserving and preserving materials
  • Conflicts of information between archival sources
  • Digitisation and its discontents
  • Agents in the archives: collectors, archivists, researchers

Conference structure and submission guidelines

In order to encourage a high level of participation among all conference attendees this conference will experiment with the format of the traditional academic conference.

There will be a morning of ‘lightning round’ 10 minute papers designed to stimulate discussion as well as more traditional panels of 3 twenty-minute papers in the afternoon. Panel chairs and respondents will be as valuable to our discussions as presenters – please do get in touch if you would like to volunteer for these positions.

Conference attendees will also vote on the final session of the conference collectively: all attendees will have the opportunity to submit ‘pitches’ until the afternoon of the conference.

A ‘pitch’ follows the format of a Call for Papers: it includes a theme, a brief overview of guiding questions, methods, and problems that arise when considering the theme, proposing possibilities for driving conversation forward. Pitches will be available on the conference website, and after reading them through during the lunch break of the conference, attendees will vote for the session in which they would most like to participate.

With an aim to include as many participants as possible, ‘Failure in the Archives’ welcomes proposals for two types of presentations, which will be peer-reviewed.

  1. 200 word abstracts for 10 minute ‘Lightning Round’ panels.
  2. 400 word abstracts for 20 minute presentations, which will be pre-circulated to panel chairs and respondents.

A small fund for travel bursaries will be available for postgraduate students – please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered for this.

All questions, feedback, and proposals are due to no later than 31 July 2014.


Moveable Types: People, Ideas, and Objects
Due: August 1, 2014

Cultural exchanges in early modern Europe

27-29 November, 2014, University of Kent

Call for Papers

Moveable Types is a three day conference which aims to re-examine the processes of cultural exchange in early modern Europe. Traditional historiography has tended to focus on a bilateral transfer of cultures, which, however meaningful, also lift out individual moments of cultural exchange from the environment which made such encounters not only possible, but also significant. By considering cultural exchange in discrete, isolated moments, one runs the risk of oversimplifying the complex networks of cultural exchange in Europe, and thereby skewing European history into a nation-centred perspective.

Recent scholarship such as histoire croisée, entangled histories, cultural translation and actor network theory (ANT) are, meanwhile, looking at such processes in their entirety, as a noisy hubbub rather than a dialogue between binaries (writer and reader, buyer and seller, one nation and another). These approaches explore a network of different elements and characters, all of which are given equal agency in shaping each others’ views of the world.

This conference will explore the implications of these recent developments in scholarship by inviting papers with an interdisciplinary approach to cultural exchange in the early modern period. The objective is thus to question the binaries of traditional scholarship, and to suggest new ways of considering the cultural connections that were being formed, broken and reformed in this period.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Andrew Pettegree (University of St Andrews);
  • Tiffany Stern (University of Oxford);
  • Gilles Bertrand (Université Pierre Mendès France, Grenoble);
  • Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary, University of London).

We invite papers on the following topics:

  • literary translation and adaptation;
  • exchange of ideas (scientific, humanist, technological, artistic);
  • epistolary networks;
  • theory of cultural exchange or cultural networks;
  • paths of ambassadors, sailors, traders, book pedlars and other travellers;
  • news, gossip and news books;
  • spaces of cultural exchange: cities, fairs, universities, theatres;
  • the making, trading, and consumption of consumer items;
  • any other paper relating to early modern cultural exchange.

Abstracts should be sent to before 1st of August 2014 and should not be longer than 300 words. Please include affiliation and contact information, as well as a short biographical note, on a separate document.

For more information please visit or e-mail

CFP: Société Guilhem IX at 2015 Kalamazoo
Due: 13 September 2014

The annual meeting of our Société held at Kalamazoo in the spring of 2015 will be focusing on the power that Occitan and Occitania hold by virtue of their attraction, their mesmerizing hold on the imagination of non-scholars and scholars alike. The Association des Sites du Pays Cathares has managed to put a bit of polish on the Cathar routes and castles that had been suffering the damages of neglect. The popular novel set in Occitania and interspersed with Occitan phrases, Labrynth by Kate Mosse, was an international #1 bestseller. For the session of papers and for our roundtable let us consider the strength and power of Occitan to remain an important cultural phenomenon for those within and without troubadour studies or the academy in general.

Session of Papers: Celebrating Occitania Then and Now: Responses across Disciplines (I)

While the Cathars were persecuted in Languedoc during the Albigensian Crusade, the will to survive encouraged a resistance to power and invading forces; mandates were subverted and expectations were foiled. Subversion and resistance characterize moments in Occitanian history from the Middle Ages until today. Ermengarda of Narbonne went forth with greater force than her advisors would have imagined; as legend has it, the Cathars of Montségur refused to renounce their faith, leading to the population being burned. This panel celebrates the will of Occitania and/or its inhabitants to thrive by inviting papers that narrate and examine Occitania’s endurance as it triumphs its oppressors and the odds by refusing to let its language, cultural identity, or its sense of autonomy fade away completely. Where did agency reside or hide in the moments of crisis? Where was truth and power found in the land of heresy? How were identities constructed or inner-lives concealed in order to hang on? How did women and men use voice or silence to overcome? How did the individual negotiate when caught within conflict large or small?

Roundtable: Occitania Across the University Campus (II)

The medieval history of Occitania, the region that is now Southern France, is introduced for study in classrooms across the country. This roundtable invites teachers who introduce undergraduates and graduate students to the territories of Toulouse, Provence, Narbonne, Mataplana, the montagne noire, or the cities of Marseille, Perpignan, Carcassonne, Minerve, Montsegur, and any other spaces in Occitania. These introductions could happen in History or English courses; Art History; or Religious Studies through the study of architecture, monasticism, liturgical music or the Waldensian or Cathar Heresies. Professors may teach using historical sources from the archives or the products from archeological digs. Is troubadour lyric used to give students a sense of the period in introductory courses in history or musicology? Are any of the vast number of troubadour songs dealing with historical material used by the historian? What sources do historians use and how are they studied? How do the troubadours fit into the English Department survey courses? Does Occitania fall under the purview of the French or the Spanish Department, both?

All titles and brief abstracts between 30-200 words due Sept. 13th to:

Valerie M. Wilhite

Vice-President of the Société Guilhem IX

Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

University of the Virgin Islands


The Place of Spenser / Spenser´s Places
Due: September 15, 2014

Dublin, 18-20 June 2015

The Fifth International Spenser Society Conference

The International Spenser Society invites proposals for their next International Conference, to be held in Dublin, Ireland. The conference will address Spenser´s places – domestic, urban, global, historical, colonial, rhetorical, geopolitical, etc. – but also the place of Spenser in Renaissance studies, in the literary tradition, in Britain, in Ireland, in the literary and political cultures of his own moment.

Additionally, a series of programmed focus panels will offer opportunities for discussion of recent important initiatives and directions in Spenser studies: editing; biography; style; Ireland; philosophy and religion; teaching; and digital approaches.

We welcome abstracts from Spenser scholars and Renaissance scholars, graduate students and faculty, for papers that address Spenser´s historical, cultural and literary environments. These include the places and spaces in which he worked and the places and positions through which we approach that work.

The conference will take place in historic Dublin Castle ( in the heart of the city, with accommodation available in local hotels. It follows the success of four previous ISS conferences, at Princeton (1990), Yale (1996), Cambridge (2001), and Toronto (2006).

An optional bus tour to Kilcolman castle, County Cork and other Spenser-related sites will take place June 21st.

Plenaries: Helen Cooper (University of Oxford), Jeffrey Dolven (Princeton University), Anne Fogarty (University College Dublin)

Confirmed speakers/presiders: Andrew Hadfield, Beth Quitslund, David Lee Miller, Julian Lethbridge, Ayesha Ramachandran, Joseph Loewenstein, Andrew Zurcher, David Wilson-Okamura, Patricia Palmer, Willy Maley, Susannah Brietz Monta, Kevin De Ornellas

Abstracts should be submitted directly to the conference website:

The closing date for submissions is 15 September 2014

Suggested topics might include (but are not restricted to) the following:

  • The reception of Spenser´s poetry
  • Spenser among the poets
  • Spenser and political writing
  • Digital Spenser
  • Spenser and the Sidneys
  • Spenser´s place in Renaissance studies
  • Spenser´s Europe
  • Spenser´s place in Irish studies
  • Spenser´s social networks
  • Spenser and the politics of space
  • Spenser´s imaginative spaces
  • Spenser and early modern Dublin
  • Editing Spenser
  • Spenser and early modern London
  • Spenser in Munster
  • Spenser and Shakespeare
  • Spenser and Raleigh
  • Spenser´s Atlantic world
  • Spenser, history and historiography
  • Spenser and archaeology
  • Material Spenser/Spenser´s materials
  • Structural/topomorphic approaches
  • Spenser´s style
  • Religion and philosophy
  • Spenser´s Books
  • Teaching Spenser

We also invite proposals for poster-board demonstrations of relevant digital and other projects.

Conference Organisers:
Jane Grogan (University College Dublin), Andrew King (University College Cork), Thomas Herron (East Carolina University)
Sponsored by the International Spenser Society


Playthings in Early Modernity: Party Games, Word Games, Mind Games
Due: September 15, 2014

Contributions are sought for an interdisciplinary collection of essays to be edited by Allison Levy and published by Ashgate Publishing Co. in the new book series, Cultures of Play, 1300-1700 (see; series editor Bret Rothstein). Dedicated to early modern playfulness, this series serves two purposes. First, it recounts the history of wit, humor, and games, from jokes and sermons, for instance, to backgammon and blind man’s buff. Second, in addressing its topic – ludic culture – broadly, Cultures of Play also provides a forum for reconceptualizing the play elements of early modern economic, political, religious, and social life.

Within this framework, PLAYTHINGS IN EARLY MODERNITY: PARTY GAMES, WORD GAMES, MIND GAMES emphasizes the rules of the game(s) as well as the breaking of those rules: playmates and game changers, teammates and tricksters, matchmakers and deal breakers, gamblers and grifters, scripts and ventriloquism, charades and masquerades, game pieces and pawns. Thus, a ‘plaything’ is understood as both an object and a person, and play, in early modern Europe (1300-1700), is treated not merely as a pastime, a leisurely pursuit, but also as a pivotal part of daily life, a strategic psychosocial endeavor: Why do we play games – with and upon each other as well as ourselves? Who are the winners, and who are the losers? Desirable essays will also consider the spaces of play: from the stage to the street, from the pulpit to the piazza, from the bedroom to the brothel: What happens when players go ‘out of bounds,’ or when games go ‘too far’? We seek new and innovative scholarship at the nexus of material culture/the study of objects, performance studies, and game theory. We welcome proposals from a wide range of disciplines, including gender studies, childhood studies, history, languages and literature, theater history, religious studies, the history and philosophy of science, philosophy, psychology, and the history of art and visual culture.

PLAYTHINGS IN EARLY MODERNITY: PARTY GAMES, WORD GAMES, MIND GAMES will be an illustrated volume, with individual contributors responsible for any permission and/or art acquisition fees. Final essays, of approximately 8,000 words (incl. notes), and all accompanying b&w illustrations/permissions will be due no later than January 15, 2015. For consideration, please send an abstract (max. 500 words), a preliminary list of illustrations (if applicable), and a CV to Allison Levy ( or by September 15, 2014. Notifications will be emailed by the end of September.


“Inheriting the Grail: Genealogy, Textuality, History”

Deadline: September 25

Special Session, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI

May 14-17, 2015

Old French Grail literature after Chrétien de Troyes’ seminal Perceval obsessively thematizes and theorizes genealogy in various interconnected forms. Late twelfth- and thirteenth-century texts like Robert de Boron’s Grail trilogy, the Vulgate (or Lancelot-Grail) Cycle, and the Perlesvaus exploit the Grail’s mysterious provenance to develop “explanatory” pseudo-historical fictions on a grand scale. In so doing, they entwine the question of the Grail’s meaning with that of its origins in a manner that also informs the texts’ reflections on human filiation and literary-historical transmission. These are processes in which the interpretation of the past and the negotiation of its relationship with the present acquire profound aesthetic and ethical stakes. They prompt interrogation of competing models of temporality, of the concepts of determinism and freedom, and of the nature and purpose of romance writing itself. Building on the recent revival of scholarly interest in these challenging but rewarding romances, this panel aims to explore genealogy’s modalities, meanings and functions in a Grail corpus highly aware of the constraints, responsibilities and creative possibilities associated with its own epigonal status. Of particular interest are the many ways, both explicit and performative, in which the texts connect their own generation and transmission and their active reception of literary predecessors to the genealogical paradigms constructed—and challenged—in their narratives of Grail history.

Please send abstracts (approx. 250-300 words) to Lucas Wood (  Deadline for submissions is Sept. 25, but prospective panelists are encouraged to submit abstracts as soon as possible.

Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture Issue 4 Seeks Pre-Modern Scholarship
Due: 30 September 2014

Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture aims to explore how the complexities of being in time find visual form. Crucial to this undertaking is accounting for how, from prehistory to the present, cultures around the world conceive of and construct their present and the concept of presentness visually. Through scholarly writings from a number of academic disciplines in the humanities, together with contributions from artists and filmmakers, Contemporaneity maps the diverse ways in which cultures use visual means to record, define, and interrogate their historical context and presence in time.

For the full CFP see:


Attending to Early Modern Women: It’s About Time
Due: September 30, 2014

Call for Proposals

June 18-20, 2015     Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Taking as its inspiration the fact that 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the first Attending to Early Modern Women conference, the ninth conference, “It’s About Time,”  will focus on time and its passing, allowing us to archive our achievements, reflect on the humanities in the world today, and shape future directions in scholarship and teaching. The conference will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, within easy walking distance of the lakeshore, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the Amtrak station. Conference attendees will stay in the near-by and newly renovated Doubletree Hotel. Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in a special pre-conference seminar on Wednesday June 17 at the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The conference will retain its innovative format, using a workshop model for most of its sessions to promote dialogue, augmented by a plenary session on each of the four conference topics: taxonomies of time, commemoration, temporalities, and pedagogies.

A detailed description of the conference and the call for proposals is now available at:

Proposals for workshops that address the conference themes may now be submitted, to Deadline: September 30, 2014.

Translatio sententiae: Proverbs in Motion in the Pre-modern World
Due: October 1, 2014

March 6-7, 2015; Barnard College, New York City

The Early Proverb Society, with support from the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College, invites submissions for papers to be delivered at its first dedicated conference. Papers are welcome on any aspect of the proverb from any part of the world prior to 1800 C.E., but we are especially interested in studies related to the conference theme of translatio sententiae.

Although the proverb is often considered a static verbal icon, it functioned, nevertheless, as a flexible mode by which wisdom and knowledge moved around the pre-modern world. For instance, in the simplest sense of translation, versions of the “same” proverb appear in Latin and in one or more vernacular languages. Linguistic translation frequently included significant elements of cultural transference as well: for example, between the religious and secular spheres, between socio-political classes, and, of course, between different regional speech communities. Proverbs transferred knowledge across time, from one generation to the next. And, perhaps more than any other type of verbal artefact, pre-modern proverbs translated between the literate and non-literate worlds, being equally at home in both.

Please submit abstracts (250-word max.) on these or related paroemiological topics by October 1, 2014 to Dr. Laurie Postlewate.


‘Breaking the Rules: Cultural Reflections on Political, Religious and Aesthetic Transgressions’
Due: October 15, 2014

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is organising its third biannual international graduate conference set to take place at Leiden University on January 29-30, 2015, Leiden, the Netherlands. The conference, entitled ‘Breaking the Rules: Cultural Reflections on Political, Religious and Aesthetic Transgressions’, will focus on the wide range of cultural responses to the violation of laws, traditions and conventions in the political, religious and aesthetic domain.

The graduate conference aims to bring together graduate students from all over the world to present their research. The LUCAS conference welcomes papers from all disciplines within the humanities. The topic of your proposal may address the concept of rule breaking/transgression from a cultural, historical, classical, artistic, literary, cinematic, political, economic, religious or social viewpoint. For a more detailed conference description, consult the conference’s website:


The organising committee has invited two internationally renowned senior academics from different disciplines (Lorraine Daston, Professor and Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin; and Barbara H. Rosenwein, Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago) to act as keynote speakers, participate in the discussions and provide feedback to the papers presented at the conference.

Please send your proposal (max. 300 words) to present a 20-minute paper along with a brief bio (150 words) before 15 October, 2014 to will be notified whether or not your paper has been selected by 1 November, 2014. Should you have any question regarding the conference and/or the proposal, please do not hesitate to contact the organizing committee at the same email address.

A selection of papers will be published as conference proceedings in the Journal of the LUCAS Graduate Conference For those who attend the conference, there will be a registration fee of €50 to cover the costs of lunches, coffee breaks, excursions and other conference materials. Unfortunately we cannot offer financial support for travel or accommodation expenses.


Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry and Speculation in Europe, 1100-1450

Due: 10 November 2014

Monday 13 & Tuesday 14 April 2015

New College, Oxford

Keynote speakers: Prof. Vincent Gillespie (Oxford), Prof. John Marenbon (Cambridge)

In the high and late Middle Ages, fictional frameworks could be used as imaginative spaces in which to test or play with ideas without necessarily asserting their truth. The aim of this conference is to consider how intellectual problems were approached – if not necessarily resolved – through the kinds of hypothetical enquiry found in poetry and other kinds of fictive texts. We hope to encourage an exploration of the relationship between poetry and speculation and the medieval understanding of speculatio, and we use the anachronistic term ‘thought experiment’ to provoke particular debate around two related questions:

(i)       to what extent can hypothetical and speculative texts be understood as ‘experiments’, as frames within which ideas can be tested rather than necessarily asserted?

(ii)   how far can speculation be understood not merely as an intellective process, but also as something affective and sensitive? In this respect we draw on both meanings of the medieval Latin experientia: not just ‘experiment’, but also ‘experience’.

We welcome papers that consider why a writer might choose a fictional or hypothetical frame to discuss theoretical questions, how a text’s truth content is affected and shaped by its fictive nature, or what kind of affective or intellectual work is required to read a speculative text. We hope that this conference will explore what happens to theoretical truth-claims in a wide range of hypothetical texts – allegorical dream-visions (such as the Romance of the Rose or Piers Plowman) as much as philosophical dialogues (such as those of Peter Abelard and Ramon Llull).

This conference aims to bring together scholars working across the spectrum of medieval languages and academic disciplines, including (but not limited to) literary studies, intellectual history, philosophy, and theology.

Papers may wish to consider some of the following questions:

Kinds of Meaning. How do fictional frames generate meaning, and how is this influenced by genre, mode, or context?

Space. What rules govern the imagined spaces of medieval thought experiments, and what issues do spaces raise?

Truth and lies. How are philosophical fictions used, abused, or condemned? When is it acceptable to lie in order to arrive at truth?

Imagination and intellect. What kinds of knowledge are accessible via different mental faculties?

Speculatio, speculum. specula How is the act of speculation represented or described in medieval texts, and how does this relate to the senses, in particular to sight?

Please submit abstracts for papers of up to 20 minutes in length to by 10 November 2014.

The registration fee for this conference will be £60, with an optional dinner in New College on the Monday evening at an additional cost (to be confirmed).

Please note that there will be a small number of travel bursaries available for graduate students and early career researchers giving papers at the conference (up to a value of £200). When you submit your abstract, please state if you would like to be considered for a travel bursary.

Enquiries can be directed to the organizers at

Call for Book Manuscripts: Maps, Spaces, Cultures

Edited by Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University) and Asa Simon Mittman (California State University, Chico). Editorial board: Ricardo Padrón (University of Virginia), Ayesha Ramachandran (Yale University) and Dan Terkla (Illinois Wesleyan University). Publisher: Arjan van Dijk (Brill).

This innovative series seeks monographs and essay collections that investigate how notions of space, geography, and mapping shaped medieval and early modern cultures. While the history of cartography has traditionally focused on internal developments in European mapping conventions and technologies, pre-modern scribes, illuminators, and printers of maps tended to work in multiple genres. Spatial thinking informed and was informed by multiple epistemologies and perceptions of the order of nature. Maps, Spaces, Cultures therefore integrates the study of cartography and geography within cultural history. It puts genres that reflected and constituted spatial thinking into dialogue with the cultures that produced and consumed them, as well as with those they represented.

The editors welcome submissions from scholars of the histories of art, material culture, colonialism, exploration, ethnography (including that of peoples described as monsters), encounters, literature, philosophy, religion, science and knowledge, as well as of the history of cartography and related disciplines. They encourage interdisciplinary submissions that cross traditional historical, geographical, or methodological boundaries, that include works from outside Western Europe and outside the Christian tradition, and that develop new analytical approaches to pre-modern spatial thinking, cartography, and the geographical imagination.

Authors are cordially invited to write to either of the series editors, Surekha Davies ( and Asa Simon Mittman (, or to the publisher at Brill, Arjan van Dijk (, to discuss the submission of proposals and/or full manuscripts.

For Brill’s peer review process see here: