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2010 Program

1st Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

“after the end: the humanities, medieval studies, and the post-catastrophe”

4-6 November 2010

University of Texas at Austin

Abandoned Mining Town (Kolmanskop, Namibia)

*all images in program are from artificial owl: the most fascinating abandoned man-made creations

Thursday, November 4th

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Session 1. Technologies of Narration

Organizer: Scott Garbacz, University of Texas at Austin

Chair: Scott Garbacz

“Technologies bombard human beings with a ceaseless offer of previously unheard-of positions — engagements, suggestions, allowances, interdictions, habits, positions, alienations, prescriptions, calculations, memories. Generalizing the notion of affordance, we could say that the quasi-subjects which we all are become such thanks to the quasi-objects which populate our universe with minor ghostly beings similar to us and whose programmes of action we may or may not adopt.” –Bruno Latour, “Morality and Technology: The End of the Means”

It has long been recognized that reading acts and processes are both culturally produced and culturally productive. Yet as we move further into the 21st Century, “New Media” technologies are changing the array of possibilities for storytelling — and in the process, as Latour points out, violently reshaping the array of (now clearly interdependent and non-rational) subject positions available. Modes ranging from blogs to guerilla marketing to ratings-driven television to massively multiplayer video games are taking on new cultural prominence, challenging the previous dominance of the printed word (the prime constitutive technology of the so-called “modern” period, driving productions ranging from Shakespeare’s sonnets to Joyce’s Ulysses). As we consider life and consciousness “after the end” of print culture’s methodologies and verities, it is worthwhile also to consider pre-modern technologies of cognition and visual imagination, whose explicit intertextuality and alien cultural matrix may shed new light on potentialities for the intersection of narrative and consciousness.

“A Window Between Fabliau and Courtly Love: Genre Theory and Cognition in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale

Mike Widner, University of Texas at Austin

“A Triptych on the After-Image of Everything”

Jen Boyle, Coastal Carolina University

Mass Effect and the Evolution of the Literary in the Digital Age”

Chris Ortiz y Prentice, University of Texas at Austin

“Internalizing Pagan Spaces: Theodulus, Eneas, and the Memory of Roman Ancestors”

Scott Garbacz, University of Texas at Austin

“At Home and Beyond: Chaucer’s Postnationalism?”

Susan Nakley, St. Joseph’s College, New York

Session 2. Apocalypse, Humanism, Language, Thought

Chair: Paul Bowman, Cardiff University

“Reading for the End: Apocalypse and Humanism”

Marina Leslie, Northeastern University

Using the Anabaptist revolution as a point of departure, this talk considers the investments of humanism in the interpretive apocalypse or “rending of the veil” the early modern humanists both helped produce and disavowed. I hope to explore this in both historical and present contexts. How does the formation and identification of early modern humanism and the studia humanitatis relate to the present investments of the humanities to engage with the world and reach non-academic audiences and yet to retain a priestly authority as readers and interpreters of culture?

“Speaking the Ineffable Word: The Names of God in Anglo-Saxon England”

Mary K. Ramsey, Southeastern Louisiana University

Through translation theory and an attention to Anglo-Saxon translations of religious texts written in Latin (which were themselves translations), this talk will examine the paradoxical desire to express the ineffable — to name and thereby define and contain God — while simultaneously asserting God’s transcendence.

“I Feel the End is Near: Thinking in Emotional Time”

Christian Beck, University of Central Florida

Since Fredric Jameson has declared “the ‘death’ of the subject,” what role do the emotions play in our current world-view? Do emotions come to an end (are we post-emotional?) and what happens emotionally in the face of this end, other ends, and The End? This talk will attempt to address the issue of emotions and how we are, or maybe should “get,” “medieval” in our posthumanity — emphasizing the “post” of the humanity. What happens, further, when we begin to measure time in terms of collective emotional experiences?

“Dispossession”

Ruth Evans, Saint Louis University

This talk will discuss Michael Landy’s 2001 artwork Break Down (in which he destroyed all his possessions) as a way into discussing our contemporary relationship with our possessions, and how medieval discourses of possession and dispossession (e.g. Franciscanism) can be read alongside and in dialogue with later discourses, with some mutual illuminations about ourselves and objects we own.

Session 3. Nature Post-Catastrophe

Co-Organizers: Lowell Duckert, George Washington University and Alfred Siewers, Bucknell University

Chair: Lowell Duckert

Natural catastrophes are common. We live in a time of melting ice, volcanic plumes, earthquakes, and (ongoing) oil spills. Yet how has our theoretical engagement with nature — ontologically, epistemologically, phenomenologically — changed during/after/because of these events? Many arguments have been put forth: Timothy Morton describes ecology without nature; Michel Serres’s natural contract stipulates that we forget the anthropocentric word “environment” altogether; and Bruno Latour believes that the modern view of Nature renders politics impotent and demarcates what can and cannot be discussed, what is and what is not allowed to speak. Indeed, as Latour asks in a recent article, “What is the successor of nature?” This panel asks why our complicated relationship with the environment is often reiterated in catastrophic — and hence negative — terms. How can we not just forget “environment,” then, or supplicate ourselves to a hostile nature, but rediscover our positive alliances with the material world? Our panel’s ecocritical inquiry is thus two-fold: (1) how we engage with nature after catastrophic events (relative to memory, trauma, history, and so on); and (2) the various ways of engaging nature after (that is, beyond) catastrophic discourse. In short, what kinds of creative (non)human connections and futures can be forged by thinking post-catastrophically? How is medieval and early modern literature contributive to this inquiry? Panelists may address, amongst other topics, the pronounced “end” of nature as a distinctively outside world; the place of the humanities/the human in post-humanism; the difficulties of anthropocentrism; the temporality of post-catastrophe; ecomaterialist approaches to the environment which describe landscape as an actor-network of coconstituitive, (non)human actants; the philosophy of science; redefinitions of catastrophe (“sudden turning”) and naturalism; pedagogical and political praxis; and the role of ecocriticism in general as it searches for the common/collective in a catastrophic world.

“Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree: Ecological Metamorphosis and the Cult of the Author”

Todd Borlik, Bloomsburg University

“Walter Ralegh’s Hydrography of Desire”

Lowell Duckert, George Washington University

“After Something: Lost and Invented Ecologies”

Kathleen Kelly, Northeastern University

“Man After Catastrophe in the Vita Haroldi

Hannah Johnson, University of Pittsburgh

School, Post-Chernobyl (Prypiat, Ukraine)

Thursday, November 4th

3:00-4:30 p.m.

Session 4. The Scholarly Object: Input and Output

Organizer: Meg Worley, Pomona College

Chair: Meg Worley, Pomona College

“They must still be around here, those old things.” –C.P. Cavafy

The object of scholarship can refer to both input and output: that which we think about, and that which emerges from our thinking. They may be commensurate (we study a codex and write a book about it), but they need not be. In a panel at the most recent International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Anna Klosowska uttered the phrase “after the object,” suggesting a long-seen longing in contemporary literary studies to move beyond mere things — to intangibles, abstractions, processes. This preference for verbs over nouns predates us, though; Hegel critiqued objectification as a key aspect of the master-slave dialectic. Since then, reification (which is a metaphorical shift, like the forming of gerunds from verbs) has become an accusation, a fault, a lapsus. Fast-forward to the final stages of a scholarly project. Suddenly our most ardent desire is to convert all our intellection into a tangible object — a book, or at least an article in a print journal. One need only observe that postmedieval — certainly one of the more forward-thinking and beyond-thinking journals in literary studies — debuted in physical form, in great towers of issues at the Palgrave booth at the 2010 Kalamazoo Congress. Meanwhile, publishers insist that medievalists (the first subdiscipline to grasp the relevance of computer processing in the 1960s) are greater purchasers of monographs than other humanities scholars. How can we reconcile our pulling away from the object as input for the black box of intellection with our cleaving to it as output? What can — what must — medieval studies add to the ongoing discussion of the future of the “book” (whatever that is)? Will different avenues of inquiry pull our (theoretically) unified field into different modes of scholarly output? How do issues of possession and intellectual property color our study of the past and, indeed, our thought processes?

A round-table discussion, with pre-circulated readings (see below), between: Meg Worley (Pomona College), Ashby Kinch (University of Montana), Sean Pollack (Portland State University), Jen Boyle (Coastal Carolina University), Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), and Martin Foys (Drew University).

Pre-Circulated Readings:

Session 5. Twelfth-Century Subjectivites

Co-Organizers: Michael Johnson, University of Texas at Austin and Chris Taylor, University of Texas at Austin

Chair: Michael Johnson

What enduring critical value might the notion of subjectivity have for scholars working on twelfth-century Europe in the wake of various critiques and deconstructions of the subject? If the unitary, autonomous subject of Western metaphysics is, and has always been, inadequate to describe medieval notions of the self and if, indeed, the medieval has contributed in some way to the postmodern deconstruction of the subject (Heidegger reading Duns Scotus, etc.), a multitude of “subjects” have risen from the ruins of the autonomous Subject, which may be said to be more adequate to the medieval: the subject as a social construction; the Lacanian split subject; the subject as an effect of power; etc. In effect, the twelfth century saw the rise of new definitions of the grammatical and political subject as well as new modes of subjection. The vast social upheavals of the period, including (among others) the Crusades, the rise of Church orthodoxy (and the attendant preoccupation with heresy), Scholasticism, the nascent university, enabled new modes of relationality (between the subject and its various constitutive “others”), which could be said to found a new subject of the Christian West. The papers in this session all examine the construal of the subject in twelfth-century Europe in light of recent metacritical reevaluations of subjectivity “after” the Subject.

“Subject/Predicate”

Michael Johnson, University of Texas at Austin

“Troubadour Technics in Time”

Erin Labbie, Bowling Green State University

Lex Mahumet and the Subject of Christianity”

Chris Taylor, University of Texas at Austin

Session 6. In/Animate: The Thing I

Sponsor: MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application)

Co-Organizers: Laurynn Lowe, Independent Scholar and Asa Mittman, California State University, Chico

Chair: Laurynn Lowe

“No medieval stone exists alone, but is an actor in a narrative that exceeds any use value, any practicality, a gem of aesthetic efflorescence that conveys conventional histories and received traditions beyond any border that they would ordinarily cross.” –Jeffery Jerome Cohen, “Stories of Stone”

Following Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s meditation on stones and Susan Signe Morrison’s call for a fecopoet[h]ics in the inaugural edition of postmedieval, this panel is an exploration of the boundaries of the inanimate. How do we understand the inanimate objects that make up our world as: (1) stones, bridging the gap between our frailty and their seeming eternity; (2) waste products to be eliminated from consciousness; and as (3) tools, whose existence would seem predicated upon the use of man? In what ways does our relationship with things define our relationship with ourselves and others? How do we define the inanimate objects in our environment, and how does this definition in turn restrict or expand our understanding of the human? How might the brass horse in Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale or the Mechanical Turk be understood as bridging the boundary between the inanimate and animal studies or “Orientalist” perspectives? How might Graham Harman’s tool-being be understood in terms of the speaking objects in the Book of Exeter riddles or the “Dream of the Rood”? If things are simply part of the architecture of our environment, invisible if functioning correctly, why then do the tools come to have voices? If an object is only genuinely visible to us when broken, why does the fantasy of magical objects persist in romances and epics? Finally, how can these examples from medieval literature shed light on our present relationships with things?

“The Gift of Good Land? Settled Lands and Wastelands in Anglo-Saxon Thought”

Marcus Hensel, University of Oregon

“Bones and Memory: The Book as Saint”

Anna Lisa Taylor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Writyng nowe memorial: Material Mythology and John Lydgate’s Troy Book

Leigh K. Elion, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Frightful Things: Inanimate Wonders in Marvels and Maps”

Asa Mittman, California State University, Chico

School, Post-Chernobyl (Prypiat, Ukraine)

5:00-6:15 p.m.

Plenary Session: Paul Bowman and Zrinka Stahuljak

Paul Bowman, Cardiff University:

“The Age of the Whirled Target: Post-Babel-ism”

This talk will relate narratives about the plight of academic aspirations to the story of Babel. It focuses on the well-worn topic of academic language, primarily the controversies about theoretical languages such as those of poststructuralism, although it argues that this theme is intimately connected to the problematics of (crisis or catastrophe in) the very possibility of a common humanity/ies. The talk will discuss the reasons why the usual suspects have so frequently been singled out and blamed not only for the apparent destruction of Enlightenment projects organised along the lines of reconstructing the Tower of Babel but also of irreverently dancing in the ruins of this project. The usual suspects include, of course: “the” theorists, postmodernists, postcolonialists, multiculturalists and poststructuralists; those now-familiar bugbears and scapegoats, whose erstwhile “controversial” status is coming to seem rather dated and perhaps even decrepit; so much so that with the waning of the discursive shock-waves of all of these once so-threatening “post-s,” it may seem that we are now, perhaps, post-catastrophe. So, the paper asks after the after of the two catastrophes of the post-: the shocks of post-structuralism’s irruption and the ripples of its receding. It asks after what is happening and what could happen, in the post, in/to the humanities, post-catastrophe.

Zrinka Stahuljak, University of California, Los Angeles:

“Posthuman Fidelity”

Whether in contemporary or medieval situations of conflict, the communication dimension of the interpreter’s job calls for an approach to human exchange that focuses on networks of interconnectivity and intersubjectivity, and transmobility (the cross-linguistic, cross-confessional, cross-cultural), that are both human and posthuman. The interpreter’s transmobility reintroduces the notion of fidelity into human networks, but also rewrites it. In short, I will be reading the “trans” of the “post,” and specifically how fidelity plays out in the networks of exchange in medieval Mediterranean conflicts.

Fridgehenge (Sante Fe, New Mexico)

Friday, November 5th

10:00-11:30 a.m.

Session 7. Here to A/Muse

Co-Organizers: Irina Dumitrescu, Southern Methodist University and Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

Co-Chairs: Irina Dumitrescu and Anna Klosowska

A thought-experiment: the 9 Muses have come out of their celestial hiding places to offer ruminations, riffs, declarations, manifestos, laments, cris de coeurs, admonishments, laments, explications, resignations, stand-up comedy routines, fire drills, weather reports, late-night broadcasts, dry cleaning services, “duck and cover” training, belated condolences, and warnings about how to proceed at the end of everything. The following presenters pay tribute or play the amanuensis.

CALLIOPE (Epic): Julie Orlemanski, Harvard University

CLIO (History): Eileen Joy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

ERATO (Lyric/Erotic Poetry): Cary Howie, Cornell University

EUTERPE (Music): Tim Albrecht, Columbia University

MELPOMENE (Tragedy): Michael Johnson, University of Texas at Austin

POLYHYMNIA (Choral Poetry): Dan Remein, New York University

TERPSICHORE (Dance): Irina Dumitrescu, Southern Methodist University

THALIA (Comedy): Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

URANIA (Astronomy): Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Session 8. Thoroughly Modern Miscreants? Medieval Advice on Sex Offenders, Dictators, and City Governance

Co-Organizers: Celia Chazelle, College of New Jersey and Felice Lifshitz, Florida International University

Chair and Respondent: Barbara Harlow, University of Texas at Austin

This session examines the distinctive perspective that medieval European studies provide on a range of political and ethical problems in the present. Still today, in the popular imagination, the European Middle Ages is regarded as the quintessential period of darkness and irrelevance, and thus a period thankfully distant from modernity. As Michelle Brown has noted, “Anything we are forced to acknowledge as negative within our own past is often shunted into this remote age as a reassurance that it is something we have left behind long ago.” Many medievalists take refuge behind a similar notion that medieval is emphatically divided from modern in order to excuse themselves from addressing issues relevant to the present. Further, although medievalists are aware that it is impossible to be truly objective, the view persists among many specialists in this field that we must conduct research as if objectivity and comprehensiveness can be attained. And, what they fail to realize, is that the widespread distorted views of the period — which they are in a unique position to correct — do real “work” in the present to uphold certain values and foreclose alternative, progressive, developments. Such distortions should not, ethically speaking, simply be permitted to flourish and fester; they should be addressed head on. But other medievalists clearly think differently: the organizers of the proposed Austin session have been working over the last few years with a group of collaborators on several interrelated projects that share two broad characteristics. First, deliberately adopting and defending a presentist approach to history, we plumb medieval scholarship, our own and that of other specialists, for insights that we argue help in concrete ways to clarify specific political, social, and ethical concerns of today and to envisage better practices and policies for the future. Second, inspired by the writings of the late Edward Said, we seek to engage with these issues as not only academics but public intellectuals. Medievalists typically write and speak only for their professional peers or students. In contrast, one of our primary aims is to convey our ideas to the non-academic public as well, through teaching, speaking engagements outside academic circles, writings for non-medievalist audiences, websites, and other outreach. Some of us also offer our time and skills to various organizations and institutions working to alleviate the social problems discussed in our scholarship. Currently, one of our major initiatives intended to reach the wider educated public is a forthcoming volume of essays, Why the Middle Ages Matter, to be published by Routledge in 2011. The proposed session for Austin 2010 will bring together two contributors to that volume (one of whom is also, with Celia Chazelle, the co-editor) with two other medievalists also interested in exploring issues of modern social ethics through this distinctive lens. The first speaker, Felice Lifshitz, will explore some aspects of the broad justification for social activism as part and parcel of the role of the medieval scholar, by way of introduction to the goals of the enterprise. The three other panelists, Lisa Bitel, Leah DeVun, and Geoff Koziol, will discuss different modern social issues — problems of poverty, political oppression, religious belief and practice, and sexuality — in light of their expertise on medieval Europe.

“On Being a Philosopher-Historian: Social Engagement After the Ethical Turn”

Felice Lifshitz, Florida International University

“The Urgency of Religion, or, As Long as There’s a Vatican, I’ll Have a Job”

Lisa M. Bitel, University of Southern California

“The Limits of Sex: Hermaphrodites and the Uses of History”

Leah DeVun, Texas A&M University

“Phillip the Fair Meets Idi Amin”

Geoff Koziol, University of California, Berkeley

Session 9. The Transcultural Middle Ages I

Co-Organizers: Laurie Finke, Kenyon College and Martin Shichtman, Eastern Michigan University

Chair: Laurie Finke

The participants in these two sessions will collaboratively explore what we are calling the “transcultural Middle Ages,” a project that would track the flow of ideas, words, people, goods, money, books, art objects, and artifacts across national boundaries. Through this project we hope to encourage collaborative migrations into conceptual territories mapped by geographical “middles,” by trails and routes. Our aim is to explore movement across and between medieval cultures generally understood as distinct and internally homogeneous, to reveal the hybridity and fluidity produced by cultural interaction: by commercial traffic, migration, nomadism, intermarriage, imperialism, and diaspora. Two border crossings are central to our purpose. First, we want to shift the focus within medieval studies from the uniqueness or distinctiveness of the national cultures that have defined medieval studies, encouraging scholarship that elucidates the mobility of cultures and the exchanges between them, ultimately decentering Europe as the locus of medieval culture. For this reason we are especially interested in work from outside of Europe or work that connects Europe to other areas of the world. Second, we want to encourage traffic between disciplines, fields, areas of expertise in the academy. We want to establish a place “in the middle” where scholars with different expertise can come together and create a common space and language for thinking more globally about routes that connect rather than borders that separate and define. And in so doing perhaps rethink their own expertise.

“The Transcultural Middle Ages: A Manifesto”

Laurie Finke, Kenyon College and Martin Shichtman, Eastern Michigan University

“Performance in the Middle Ages: Transmitting It Then and Now”

Nina Chordas, University of Alaska Southeast

“Persians, Indians, and Castilian Empires: The Libro de Alexandre

Raúl Ariza-Barile, University of Texas at Austin

“Beyond Alexander’s Gate: Defining the Medieval World Against Gog and Magog”

Michael Nayebi-Oskoui, Independent Scholar

Session 10. Transparent Things

Co-Organizers: Maggie Williams, William Paterson University and Rachel Dressler, University at Albany, SUNY

Chair: Maggie Williams

“When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!” –V. Nabokov, Transparent Things (1972)

Visual objects entice us with the promise of experiences — emotional, visceral, mnemonic, intellectual, spiritual. Abbot Suger spoke of the upward-lifting, anagogical potential of medieval stained glass, just as Vladimir Nabokov allows us to slip, helplessly, into the depths of an imagined history. As students of visual images, we sometimes step laterally, through the looking glass, into a boundless realm of unspoken artistic intentions and cultural memories demanding to be narrated. We see ourselves reflected in mirrored surfaces, and we pass back and forth through the membranes of viewer and scholar, historian and contemporary citizen. This session offers a dialogue on the question of how our encounters with material things spark a process, and how images might allow unique collisions between the past and the present, the human and the inanimate, the practice of history and lived experience.

“Tantric Art History”

Karen Overbey, Tufts University

“Encountering the Inauthentic”

Jennifer Borland, Oklahoma State University

“Anchoritic Encounters: Communicating with the Past Through the Touch of the Material Object”

Angela R. Bennett Segler, New York University

“Experiencing Stained Glass”

Nancy Thompson, Saint Olaf College

Abandoned Igloo Hotel (Cantwell, Alaska)

Friday, November 5th

12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Session 11. Metamorphoses: Intersections of Medieval and Transgender Studies

Organizer: Masha Raskolnikov, Cornell University

Chair: Masha Raskolnikov

Respondent: Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania

“‘Trans-,’ a prefix weighted with across, beyond, through (into another state or place — elsewhere), does the now familiar work of suggesting the unclassifiable. To be trans- is to be transcending or surpassing particular impositions, whether empirical, rhetorical, or aesthetic. Antony speaks of the affective force of his/her transformation in songs and in singing. Transformations — not unlike transgenders — are produced through emotive forces. Shards and pieces (again, of something broken) are reworked into meaningful integrities, but not wholes.” — Eva Hayward, “More Lessons from a Starfish: Prefixial Flesh and Transspeciated Selves”

To acknowledge that the gender and sex of a given body is not a given, that the body’s maleness or femaleness is a site for interrogation and transformation, is a very medieval move indeed: even if the technology for sex reassignment surgery is relatively new, magical/miraculous sex reassignment is really quite familiar to those whose scholarship focuses on medieval bodies. In romances, a child’s “true” sex can be disguised according to the caprice of inheritance law. In saint’s lives, a monastery may find itself sheltering a monk who had passed his childhood as a girl. And, of course there’s always the medieval legacy of Ovid, whose writings took bodies through permutations that crossed quite a few lines beyond these, including but never limited to the boundary between human and animal. The BABEL Working Group’s passionate interest in the alterity and multiplicity of sexualities and bodies, its collective investment in enacting a messy entanglement with the past and its continuing engagement with the sentimentality of giving voice to those silenced (by death or difference, rank or metaphysical status), speaks urgently both to and about contemporary transgender studies. Ur-myths of possible trans ancestors fill the pages of medieval manuscripts, from Ovid’s Iphis and Ianthe and the medieval English case of John/Eleanor Rykener, to Pope Joan to Joan of Arc (and certainly beyond). These figures also appear in works like Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors, and as part of other narratives that seek to give transsexuality a longer historical arc than simply the history of technological advancement. This roundtable discussion will posit how and why the study of transgender/transsexuality and the study of medieval literature, philosophy and art might need one another, asking about the possibility of productive engagements as well as inquiring after important conflicts in the study of these fields.

Nothing to recover: Transgender Relations in the Vie de Sainte Euphrosine

Shanna Carlson, Cornell University

“The Phlegmatic Man as Transexual”

Elspeth Whitney, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“Transgender Effects and the Medievalist’s Classroom”

Diane Cady, Mills College

“Metamorphoses”

Masha Raskolnikov, Cornell University

Session 12. Post-Moralitas I

Co-Organizers: Allan Mitchell, University of Victoria and Julie Orlemanski, Harvard University

Chair: Allan Mitchell

Respondent: Christopher Bradley, University of Texas at Austin

What are the after-images and effects of medieval forms of moral discourse? This panel seeks to animate and assess the question of post-morality in pre-modern culture, taking stock of its ethical possibilities and liabilities. In our current interval of literary history, rumored to follow long after the moral didacticism of pre-modern literature, as well as after the demise of modernity’s discrete aesthetic sphere — what transpires? For example, does post-catastrophic, post-human, postmodern, and post-medieval reading and writing participate anymore in the project of “aesthetic education”? Schiller, in his famous discussion Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, dreams of art that can address itself to the human “play drive” (Spieltrieb), changing and reforming our desires in accord with moral truth. Can such change still be countenanced in literature or in the readings we forge from literature of the past? Can we ever recover the “moral of the story”? And what happens now after the so-called “ethical turn”? Is morality a dead-end? Was it always a dead-end, cul-de-sac-ing in the post-moral? Does the post-moral consist in adopting another trope, turning away from the moral? Is post-morality really ethics? politics? ideology? critique? interpretation? aesthetics? literature itself?

“‘Moral Causality’ in Henry Medwall’s Nature and Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy

Liza Blake, New York University

“Communitas, Immunitas, Cupiditas”

George Edmondson, Dartmouth College

“Post-Moralitas and Crusade Lyrics”

Maria Galvez, Stanford University

“The One is the Many”

Stephen Guy-Bray, University of British Columbia

Session 13. Cognitive Alterities: Body-Thinking

Organizer: Jane Chance, Rice University

Chair: Jane Chance

Co-Respondents: Aranye Fradenburg, University of California, Santa Barbara and Noreen Giffney, Trinity College Dublin

Recent postmodern work in psychoanalytic theory and gender studies has opened windows into how early literatures processed and manifested concepts of subjectivity and the personal on the one hand and cultural difference (sexual, gender, racial, class, national) on the other. This panel on cognitive alterities will draw upon the current medical and theoretical research into neurobiology and how the brain functions (and dysfunctions) to shed light on how the Middle Ages incarnated an understanding of diversity in cognitive processes. Contemporary neuroscientists such as Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, 2001; Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain, 2003) have examined the diverse effects of emotion and the personal, particularly after injury or other impairment, on the brain’s processes of decision-making and judgment, modes of consciousness, language, memory, and the creative. A continuation of two panels on the same subject at the 2010 meeting of the New Chaucer Society in Siena, Italy, this panel will explore how the mind thinks differently in the Middle Ages, and how medieval cultures imagined in such differences the individual and personal, through various forms of subjective media. All three panels (at Siena and here) serve as the launching pad for a special issue of postmedieval, co-edited by Jane Chance and Antony Passaro, forthcoming in 2012.

“Neuromedievalism: What It Might Look Like, Why It Might Matter”

Ashby Kinch, University of Montana

Being Now The Ox: Meditation as Re-Education for the Post-Historical Humanities”

Sara M. Ritchey, University of Louisiana

“Monstrous Knowledge: Privileging the Unknowable in Alchemical Discourse”

Kathleen Long, Cornell University

“Rusted Me(n)tal”

Julie Singer, Washington University in Saint Louis

Tank Graveyard (Asmara, Eritrea)

Friday, November 5th

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Session 14. Humanism and Poetics Caught in Posthuman Enfoldings

Co-Organizers: Sarah Bagley, University of Pittsburg and Daniel C. Remein, New York University

Co-Chairs: Sarah Bagley and Daniel C. Remein

It is perhaps now commonplace to regard Humanism as nothing more than a failed project of the Enlightenment. Various conceptions of posthumanism have been offered as alternatives, but this ‘post’ implies a relationship to time that requires a still-unrealized concept of history. We do not have a concept of history adequate to the work of Humanism, and how can we possibly undertake the work of posthumanism without first working on this concept of history? This panel begins from the idea that we need to work towards a concept of history adequate to the demands of the connections that would have to be made, across time and language, by a viable posthumanism. Such a concept of history would need to engage imaginatively and willingly with previous humanisms, languages, and literatures across time. From this assumption this panel would propose a series of specific questions: Is there a moment of folding that conjoins the Heiddegerian theories of language as what speaks us historically and the Vichean theories of language as the field produced by the human in which we form ourselves and our history? How can scholarship that traditionally focuses on the medieval and scholarship that focuses on the post-medieval collaborate with and co-inform each other in their mutual responsibility to the accomplishments of Humanism in the ‘after-the-end’ milieu? Benjamin claims, “Our life…is a muscle strong enough to contract the whole of historical time;” part of this panel’s work will be to ask what the posthumanist looks like who lives this life, or even whether Benjamin’s assertion holds for our time. How might certain strands of the history of and practice of Philology help us to think such a concept of history and such connections across time? What might humanism and its early Philology accomplish when caught in the posthuman fold? Alternately, to what extent might poetics enfold the field in which we can mine previous conceptions of the human? To provoke such a difficult but needed discussion, this panel will bring together a unique arrangement of scholars of both medieval and post-medieval literatures and cultures, as well as a visual artist, who attempt to locate their work within the historiographical demands of the above conversation.

“Philology–World: World–Philology”

Haruko Momma, New York University

“James Baldwin’s Critical Affect”

Rachael Wilson, New York University

“In Search of Lost Nostalgia: Proustian Critique and Responsible History”

Sarah Bagley, University of Pittsburgh

“Afferent/Efferent Reciprocities: Systems Approaches to Affect in Animal Studies”

Ada Smailbegovic, New York University

I can’t go on . . . I’ll go on: Repetition and the Unrepeatable”

Anna Moblard Meier, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

“Lust in the Library: Philology and the Time of Ornamentality”

Daniel C. Remein, New York University

Session 15. Post-Moralitas II

Co-Organizers: Allan Mitchell, University of Victoria and Julie Orlemanski, Harvard University

Chair: Julie Orlemanski

Respondent: Christopher Bradley, University of Texas at Austin

“Ontogeny Before Ontology — or, Posthuman Ethics?”

Allan Mitchell, University of Victoria

“The Wound Man and Morality’s Mimesis”

Julie Orlemanski, Harvard University

“Emotions after Morality: Envy and the Problem of Pleasure”

Jessica Rosenfeld, Washington University in Saint Louis

“Death and Ethics: Levinas’s ‘Murder in the Night’ and Love in The Man of Law’s Tale

Cord J. Whitaker, University of New Hampshire

Session 16. Humanity in Crisis: East (of) Europe

Organizer: Irina Dumitrescu, Southern Methodist University

Chair: Zrinka Stahuljak, University of California, Los Angeles

Respondent: Karen Engle, Director, Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

For a conference asking us what comes “after the end” of catastrophes both political and academic, this session explores the role of art and scholarship during the catastrophe, a catastrophe that does not necessarily end when the political crisis is over. The papers in this session examine the creative responses of artists and intellectuals to Central and East European tragedies, and the ways they used the humanities for the work of memory, for cultural criticism, in the attempt to express the inexpressible, and in the desperate struggle to maintain their very humanness. In other words, these papers ask what role the humanities (conceived here as including both scholarship and artistic creation) have outside the academic context and in those moments when the “post-human” is not a theoretical construction but a dangerous reality.

“Atom Egoyan and the Seductive Dangers of Diaspora”

Lisa Siraganian, Southern Methodist University

“Atempause and Atemschaukel: The Post-War Periods of Primo Levi and Herta Müller”

Tim Albrecht, Columbia University

“Poems in Prison: The Survival Strategies of Romanian Political Prisoners in the 1950s and 1960s”

Irina Dumitrescu, Southern Methodist University

“What Book Would You Never Burn? Books as Fuel in Besieged Sarajevo”

Denis Ferhatovic, Bilkent University, Turkey

Abandoned Train (Okha, Sakhalin Island, Russia)

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Plenary Session: Noreen Giffney and Aranye Fradenburg

Noreen Giffney, Trinity College Dublin

” . . . “

What thoughts come to mind when you see the title of this talk?

The conference title, ‘After the End,’ sets us an impossible task: to symbolise that which is unsymbolisable. Our musings can only ever be fantasies, projections of our own hopes or anxieties, prospective rather than retrospective. ‘After the End’ will always, can only ever be, ‘Before the End’. How then to consider a time, a space, a thing in its absence? In this talk I will turn to the work of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, little known in academic circles but enormously influential in clinical psychoanalysis, in an effort to explore what is entailed in meaning-making, focusing particularly on the matter of thinking through thoughts deemed to be unthinkable.

Aranye Fradenburg, University of California, Santa Barbara:

“The Liberal Arts of Psychoanalysis”

In terms of process, psychoanalysis is more closely related to the disciplines of the arts and humanities than those of the sciences, however much the latter have contributed to our knowledge of the mind and our discussions of technique. Will we, accordingly, assert our support for liberal arts education, at a time when it is under unprecedented attack? Neuroscience has made remarkable strides in establishing the importance of artistic and humanist training to the plasticity and connectedness of mental functioning. But these discoveries have sadly done nothing to protect the academic disciplines of the arts and humanities from budget cuts and closings. It is as if contemporary boosters of technical and scientific education had no interest in, or knew nothing about, the new knowledge of the brain that scientists are actually producing. Will psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, for the sake of the arts and the sciences, support liberal arts education, or will we distance ourselves from it, and thus abandon the well-being of the very minds we will later be trying to tend in our offices? Is it not our responsibility to speak for the importance of thriving, not just surviving?

Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, Texas)

Saturday, November 6th

10:00 – 11:15 a.m.

Plenary Session: Heather Love and Michael O’Rourke

Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania:

“After Such Forgiveness, What Knowledge?”

This talk considers the recent move away from depth hermeneutics in literary studies in the context of what French historian François Dosse has called “the descriptive turn.” I argue that recent forms of “flat” or “surface” reading offer a significant challenge to the largely unacknowledged humanism of literary studies. While I survey a range of methods from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s reparative reading to Franco Moretti’s distant reading, my focus is on the intersection of sociology and literature, with particular attention to the examples of Erving Goffman and Bruno Latour. I argue that their mapping of social interactions, connections, and networks offers a model for a form of literary criticism grounded in description rather than interpretation. Furthermore, I argue this “flat” view of social life models an ethics grounded not in empathetic witness but in observation and documentation.

Michael O’Rourke, Independent Colleges, Dublin:

“After”

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, in their most recent book Commonwealth, caution against a newly arisen apocalyptic tone in contemporary politico-philosophical thought, a tone which finds its fullest expression in Slavoj Žižek’s latest gloomy opus, Living in the End Times. We are, if we are to believe what we read, after the subject, the human, sex, God, finitude, theory, the humanities, and so on. To counter this preoccupation with, even fetishization of, ends, this paper traces the preposition “after” across a range of Derrida’s texts. If for Derrida, in Of Grammatology, the end of the book heralds an opening for the book to-come, then this paper seeks out a recalibrated futurity for the humanities which recognizes that its future will always have been its end, which, more affirmatively put, is to say that its future will have been always to begin its ending again.

Detroit Public Schools Book Depository (Detroit, Michigan)

Saturday, November 6th

12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Session 17. Bodies of Time

Organizer: Brianna Jewell, University of Texas at Austin

Chair: Brianna Jewell

In a recent blog post, Lauren Berlant writes that the purpose of fantasy is to make ambivalence bearable. As we approach the asymptote that is our fantasy, we see the always retreating, always disintegrating, and thus always desired body. As postmedieval, posthuman critics, we are pulled by a fantasy of being able to touch the body of a past, to access a place or object that lives, or has lived, or was born non-contemporaneous to us. Perhaps in our attempts to have an affective relationship to the body of the past we enact the same fantasy as the medieval person whose touch upon the relic summons an experience of being transported back to — or enclosed within a scene of contact, atemporally, with — a past body and place. It is, perhaps, not the touch or full access, but its impossibility that sustains our fantasy of reaching lost bodies. This is another way of saying that our fantasy might be sustained by our inability to escape our temporal present. Can we experience a body (a text, an object, a thing) without being subject to time’s ebbs and flows, without, that is, being subject to the tyranny of chronology, however queerly chronology may be conceptualized? In this panel, we consider how fantasy works to make both possible and exciting living in the wake of the past, with all the seemingly conflicting thoughts, feelings and experiences that such a life gives rise to. We ask how the tangibility and spontaneity of bodies haunt and propagate our desires to become through a medieval past and, by extension, how time relates to our understandings of pleasure and (its) moralizations. This panel throws into conversation medieval literary texts, medieval art history, queer theory, and affect theory to call attention to the accessible, fluid, and performative nature of medieval and postmodern bodies represented through texts and objects. In so doing, we hope to tell a deeper story about the attachments — to fantasy, to bodies and to things — that enable the reproduction of a life.

“Blessed Dust: Transforming and Transporting Materiality in a Pilgrimage Token of Saint Symeon the Younger”

Shannon Steiner, University of Texas at Austin

“Grendel, Identity, and Sexual Politics: Reconsidering the Representation of Grendel in Beowulf

Daniel F. Pigg, University of Tennessee at Martin

But Love Has Pitched His Mansion in the Place of Excrement: Dystopia in The Land of Cockaygne

Abigail Bristol, University of Texas at Austin

“Caught in the Middle: Becoming Medieval Bodies”

Brianna Jewell

Session 18. FAULT I

Co-Organizers: Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College, CUNY and Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

Chair: Anna Klosowska

These two sessions lay the fault-lines for a special issue of postmedieval, to be published in 2013 and co-edited by Nicola and Anna. FAULT: It is yours, the one to blame, for everything. FAULT: Tellurian fissure, index of the means of mountains, earthquakes, islands. FAULT: Deep opening, essential accident, the only way for lovers to whisper: “The wall their houses shared had one thin crack, which was formed when they were built and then was left; in all these years, no one had seen that cleft; but lovers will discover everything: you were the first to find it, and you made that cleft a passageway which speech could take” (Ovid, Metamorphoses). FAULT: Lack, defect, shortcoming, mistake, error. FAULT: Exactly where you are at.

Take these sentences as invitation and incitement for post-medievalist work that willfully shares, practically and theoretically, in the significance of fault. The purpose of FAULT is to rigorously practice fault as the way of purpose, as the inevitable space of method. FAULT = to take things too far, to follow and seduce error rather than evade it, to fall hard for something, to creatively stray in the “sylvan wandering that allows itself to become lost enough to find what cannot be deliberately traced,” to pursue and persist in the identity of strength and weakness (“for when I am weak, then I am strong. I have been a fool!” 2 Corinthians 12:10), to corrupt, deform, perforate, decay, infect, disease, and totally lead to wonderful decline a text or other form of debris from the past, to colonize a little crumb into a vast continent, to studiously enjoy the fact that life is already over and you have/are lost, to do what you must do, what you will do anyway, but now to do it openly and fully, to a fault. This is not frivolity, but serious folly. Only the desperate, the perversely imaginative, and the fatally flawed should attempt the crossing.

FAULT I & II will feature 7 presenters who will split their papers between the two sessions (see Session 22 below) across various crevasses of thought and image.

“How an Old Book Tells Time”

Heather Bamford, University of California, Berkeley

Quod geminorum partum disterminat: Augustine’s Hermeneutics of Fault”

Jordan Kirk, Princeton University

Come cosa che cada: Habit and Cataclysm”

Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College, CUNY

“Barthes’ Fragments: The Ghost of the Non-human”

Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

“Boustrophedonic Reading: Irresponding to J. Hillis Miller”

Michael O’Rourke, Independent Colleges, Dublin

“The Grace of Philology”

Michael E. Moore, University of Iowa

Session 19. The Transcultural Middle Ages II

Co-Organizers: Laurie Finke, Kenyon College and Martin Shichtman, Eastern Michigan University

Chair: Martin Shichtman

“How to be (Alfons the) Magnanimous in Three Easy Steps! Using Diplomacy, War, and Dante”

Daniel Hartnett, Kenyon College

“After the Catastrophe: The Images of Jean Thenaud’s Triomphes des Vertus and the Virtual Landscapes of Ottoman Jerusalem”

Anne F. Harris, DePauw University

“Infernal Migrations, the Iconography of Hell, and the Cultural Conquest of Mexico”

John Warrick, University of Birmingham

Ruinous Monument: Sir Thomas Herbert’s Translations through Persepolis”

Nedda Mehdizadeh, George Washington University

Session 20. Calling Time Out: Style and Scholarship

Sponsor: BABEL Working Group

Organizer: Anne Clark Bartlett, DePaul University

C0-Chairs: Marjorie Curry Woods, University of Texas at Austin and Eliza Glaze, Coastal Carolina University

Respondent: Neville Hoad, University of Texas at Austin

“I think the question of style, as it applies to medievalism, is precisely the overcoming of that dichotomy between Nature and Man: a third element. And when the critique proceeds through the denunciation of the inimitability of someone’s style, as if it was the third sex, ungenerative, queer, sterile, sodomitic, lesbian, etc., the critic unconsciously puts his finger on exactly what style is; but that critic is mistaken about the style’s generative powers. In fact, style, neither fact nor theory but facilitating the transition between the two, is . . . the generative principle itself.” –Anna Klosowska, “Is Style a Historical Method?”

Recent scholarship in medieval studies has offered some provocative experiments in style. Authors such as Kathleen Biddick, Carolyn Dinshaw, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Cary Howie, and David Wallace have blended the conventions of academic writing with those of fiction, drama, memoir, and lyricism. As these registers merge, they can produce what has been called a queer historiographical encounter (or in Elizabeth Freeman’s terms, “an erotohistorography”), a “poetics of intensification,” and even a “new aestheticism.” This panel will explore what is at stake, and what might be lost or gained, when scholars take on the risk of telling personal stories, staging fictionalized encounters, and inventing new styles and modes of address in their scholarly work. Some questions to be considered might include: what can be said about the “style” of academic discourse at the present time? Is style merely supplemental to scholarly substance? As scholars, are we “subjects” of style? And what is the relationship between style and theory? Is style an object, a method, or something else?

“The Aesthetics of Style and the Politics of Identity Formation”

Gila Aloni, Centre d’Études Médiévales Anglaises (CEMA), France

“Always Accessorize!”

Christine Neufeld, Eastern Michigan University

“Queening the Two Bodies: Styling Medieval Self and Role”

Bonnie Wheeler, Southern Methodist University

“The Unceasing Call of Style: A Novelist’s Perspective”

Valerie Vogrin, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

“The Renegade Style of Philip Massinger: Fashion and the (Non)Modern Subject-Object in The Renegado

Jessica Roberts Frazier, George Washington University

Abandoned Tube Station, Archway Road (Highgate, London)

Saturday, November 6th

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Session 21. In/Animate: The Thing II

Sponsor: MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: the Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application)

Co-Organizers: Laurynn Lowe, Independent Scholar and Asa Mittman, California State University, Chico

Chair: Asa Mittman

“Ephemeral Rings: Anglo-Saxon Bells and Immaterial Media”

Martin Foys, Drew University

“Impolitical Verticalities in the ‘Bellicose Constellation’ of the Kingdom: The Spectral Totality of Occupatio Bellica and Hyper-Humanity”

Elliot A. Jarbe, University of Western Ontario

“Tool-being in the Riddles of the Exeter Book”

Laurynn Lowe, Independent Scholar

“Thing Theory and the Early Medieval Idol (Is Meat a Thing?)”

Mo Pareles, New York University

Session 22. FAULT II

Co-Organizers: Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College, CUNY and Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

Chair: Nicola Masciandaro

This session represents the leap over various crevasses of thought and image from Session 18 to here. Version 1.1, as it were. Redux. Rewind. Fast forward. Again. One more time. Finish that thought. What were you saying again? Once more into the breach. Only fools rush in. A sucker born every minute. Hope springs eternal. That sort of thing.

“How an Old Book Tells Time”

Heather Bamford, University of California, Berkeley

Quod geminorum partum disterminat: Augustine’s Hermeneutics of Fault”

Jordan Kirk, Princeton University

Come cosa che cada: Habit and Cataclysm”

Nicola Masciandaro, Brooklyn College, CUNY

“Barthes’ Fragments: The Ghost of the Non-human”

Anna Klosowska, Miami University of Ohio

“Boustrophedonic Reading: Irresponding to J. Hillis Miller”

Michael O’Rourke, Independent Colleges, Dublin

“The Grace of Philology”

Michael E. Moore, University of Iowa

Session 23. Exploiting Constraint: Reiterative Textual Authority and the Subject of Exchange

Organizer: Myra Seaman, College of Charleston

Chair: Myra Seaman

Respondent: Lara Farina, West Virginia University

This session will investigate a range of strategies developed by those living in medieval, early modern, and contemporary moments to construct alternative identities and subject positions by deploying ostensibly prescriptive, restrictive, and ideologically conservative textual authorities. The authorities addressed by the panel range from fourteenth-century English legal discourse and fifteenth-century English conduct verse to sixteenth-century New World oriented cultivation narratives and twentieth-century American children’s opera and social conduct literature. Each of these moments appeared to its inhabitants to offer a break with the past, one often read in terms of new possibilities and at times in terms of new threats. The strategies exhibited in and performed through these texts are understood by the panel as conducive to the production of a collective subjectivity, one that tends to operate in networks of exchange, typically economic or sexual, and in specifically moral terms. In the process, we will be engaging a number of the issues highlighted by Teresa de Lauretis in a quote central to the the conference’s CFP: together, we will help “reopen . . . questions of subjectivity, materiality, discursivity, knowledge”; we will consider how these particular communities seemed to imagine themselves in a temporal cleft and will seek what lies beyond periodization — at different moments in our past, and in our present — and what kinds of new insights might be gained through a post-temporal historically-attuned orientation.

“Cultivating Fantasies: Engendering Virtue in a New World”

Holly Crocker, University of South Carolina

“Love and Taxes”

Brantley Bryant, Sonoma State University

Wyse men & wyttye: Creating and Questioning Masculine Textual Communities”

Christina Fitzgerald, University of Toledo

“Integrating Economies in the Fifteenth-Century English Household Anthology”

Myra Seaman, College of Charleston

“Wife, Widow, and Artist: The Love Triangle in Barab and Richards’ Chanticleer

Candace Barrington, Central Connecticut State University

Session 24. Public Feelings/Political Emotions

Organizer: Ann Cvetkovich, University of Texas at Austin

Chair: Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania

The Public Feelings project, begun in 2001 in the shadow of 9/11 and its ongoing consequences, comprises a collective of scholars at the University of Texas and elsewhere (such as @ Feel Tank Chicago) who aim to explore the role of feelings in public life. The project initially emerged from collective meetings on the future of gender and sexuality and the question of how to give feminism greater impact in the public sphere. In addition to being a stealth feminist project, Public Feelings is also implicitly queer and many of its members are veteran AIDS activists who come to the project with various forms of political depression in the face of an ongoing and too frequently normalized health crisis of global proportions. The project’s interest in everyday life, in how global politics and history manifest themselves at the level of lived affective experience, is bolstered by the role that queer theory has played in calling attention to the integral role of sexuality within public life. Public Feelings also seeks to foster a more expansive definition of political life — that political identities are implicit within structures of feeling, sensibilities, everyday forms of cultural expression and affiliation that may not take the form of recognizable institutions or organizations. And just as AIDS activism has done, Public Feelings holds out for a queer political agenda that moves beyond gay righs and is attentive to the linkages between sexual politics and other issues, such as war, migration, and racism.

This panel will bring together members of the Public Feelings project at the University of Texas at Austin: Ann Cvetkovich (English), Sam Baker (English), Ann Reynolds (Art and Art History), and Neville Hoad (English), who will provide us with “news from the front,” as it were, which includes the recent publication of the book Political Emotions (Routledge, 2010), edited by Janet Staiger, Ann Cvetkovich, and Ann Reynolds.

Concrete House (Logan, Ohio)

Saturday, November 6th

4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Plenary Session: Unending

This panel presents four different perspectives on time and timelessness. Through Augustine, Blanchot, medieval colophons, and contemporary lyric, these presenters will be talking about the supplements and alternatives to time that nonetheless make time possible: apocalypse and memory; oblivion and heaven; the end of the line in the poetic if not necessarily the ontological sense. They will try, moreover, to speak and think in ways that are committed to not having the final word on any of these things.

Catherine Brown, University of Michigan: “The Memory of the End of the World”

Virginia Burrus, Drew University: “Why Heaven is ‘After’ Hell”

Karmen Mackendrick, LeMoyne College: “Oblivion, Hope, and Infinite Suspense”

Cary Howie, Cornell University: “The Breaks”

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