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2012 Program

2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

“cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university”

[full description of conference HERE]

20-22 September 2012

Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

*co-hosted by Boston College, Harvard University*, M.I.T., Northeastern University, and Tufts University (with additional sponsorship from College of Charleston, George Washington University’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, Palgrave Macmillan, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)

[go HERE to register]

*speaking of Harvard, please follow THIS WORMHOLE to a parallel conference universe, “Preaching the Saints: Sermons, Art, and Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe” (21-22 Sep. 2012)

*all images in online program from Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit (2005-2010)

Registration + Book/Journal Display + Coffee, Etc.

Ballroom, Curry Student Center, 2nd Floor

Thursday, Noon – 5:00 pm

Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Saturday, 8:30 am – 2:00 pm

[all sessions, except for plenaries, are in NEU's Curry Student Center]

Thursday, Sep. 20th

1:30 – 3:00 pm

Session 1. The Inter-Discipline of Pedagogy

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Mary Dockray-Miller (Lesley University)

Presider: Mary Dockray-Miller

This roundtable panel will explore issues around the place, value, and practice of undergraduate pedagogy in the contemporary university.  While university mission statements routinely include references to excellence in teaching and learning, public discourse around undergraduate education now focuses a sometimes vitriolic critique of liberal arts faculty and academic processes that value research over teaching (for example, see Derek Bok’s 2006 Our Underachieving Colleges or Craig Brandon’s 2010 The Five-Year Party). As a field of knowledge, medieval studies can seem increasingly quaint or irrelevant given our culture’s current focus on professional training and post-baccalaureate employment.

Discussants:

  • Mary Dockray-Miller (Lesley University)
  • Robert Stanton (Boston College)
  • Eliza Garrison (Middlebury College)
  • Karolyn Kinane (Plymouth State University)
  • Sherri Olson (University of Connecticut)
  • Jennifer Brown (Marymount Manhattan College)

Session 2. Getting Medieval on Medieval Studies

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr College)

Presider: Elly Truitt

This roundtable panel will explore the concatenation of medievalism in popular culture and medieval studies. Put more bluntly and in less boring terms, how can the Potterverse, Westeros, the World of Warcraft, “The Knights of Badassdom,” “Your Highness,” and LARPing teach students about the Middle Ages and the various ways that the medieval period is portrayed in contemporary culture? We will also debate the reasons that Medieval Studies is often still seen as marginal or arcane within the academy at the same time that MMORPGs have tens of millions of unique users, Rennaissance Faires are held every weekend throughout the country, and “Game of Thrones” is the hottest new show on HBO. Panelists will give short presentations, followed by questions, debate, and discussion.

Speak Friend and Enter: The Curious Lure of Dungeons, Dragons, Middle-Earth, and Medieval Derring-Do

Maximilian I, The Last Medieval Knight: Then and Now

  • Darin Hayton (Haverford College)

Medieval Drag, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the SCA

  • Myra Seaman (College of Charleston)

The Curious Margery Kempe

  • Jamie Taylor (Bryn Mawr College)

Sex, Stoners, and Rock ‘n’ Roll: Screening Medieval History

  • Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr College)

RESPONSE: Christine Neufeld (Eastern Michigan University)

Atrium, Farwell Building, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Thursday, Sep. 20th

3:15 – 4:45 pm

Session 3. Medieval Touchscreen

Ballroom, Curry Student Center, 2nd Floor

Co-Organizers: Bettina Bildhauer (University of St Andrews) + Elizabeth Robertson (University of Glasgow)

Presider: Elizabeth Robertson

This session will consist of seven short papers by people working in different disciplines, each responding to a single object: a piece of skin, the relic of Mary Magdalene’s forehead in St Maximin, France, supposedly miraculously preserved because this was where Christ touched her just after he rises from the dead (see Katherine L. Jansen, The Making of the Magdalen:Preaching and Devotion in the Later Middle Ages).  Although speakers are in no way constrained to represent their discipline, we expect the session to illustrate the different (or perhaps similar) insights that emerge when observers trained in various disciplines approach the same object. The session therefore will be a practical enactment of what different disciplines do and how disciplinary collaboration can enhance (or perhaps diminish) understanding. Although this particular piece of skin will not be present in the room, it is hoped that the materiality of the concrete object will focus discussion. Members of the audience are encouraged — dare we say required? — to contribute their responses to this single object to the discussion.

Don’t Touch Me, But Let Me Touch You: Mary Magdalene and the Enigma of Touch

  • Elizabeth Robertson (University of Glasgow)

Skin Deep

  • Robert Pasnau (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Nonstop

  • Cary Howie (Cornell University)

TouchingVirtue

  • Holly Crocker (University of South Carolina)

Isaac’s Touch

  • Kirk Ambrose (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Skinning Saints: Mary Magdalene’s Scalp, Christ’s Foreskin, and Madeleine Sophie’s Lips

  • Catherine Mooney (Boston College)

Getting Under the Skin in Psychiatry

  • Gerda Norvig (Clinical Psychologist)

Session 4. Families Old and New

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Peter Buchanan (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto) + David Buchanan (North Dakota State University) + Dan McKanan (Harvard Divinity School) + Amy Virginia Buchanan (Independent Performer)

Presider: Peter Buchanan

In 1976, M. L. “Buck” Buchanan, Chair of the Department of Animal Sciences at North Dakota State University, passed away. This panel is comprised of one of his children and three of his grandchildren; at the time of his death, one of us was in graduate school, one was a child, and the other two had yet to be born. However, long after his death, visits with family were characterized by two things: the presence of Coca Cola and talks about what’s been going on in our lives. We want to start with the fact that we are not atoms propelled into motion by our interactions with universities, but are already in motion, bringing relationships with us into a porous structure that allows for relationships that pre-exist and cross disciplinary divides. We recognize that our families are larger than the ones we are given at birth. New communities and families reveal themselves to us in the university as we sound the depths of our interests, and we are in a constant state of being given back to ourselves by marvelous experiences in these new communities. Our families old and new lead us to new things, pleasures we couldn’t imagine, and responsibilities to groups both within and without the university. We would like to use our panel as a space for the sharing of marvelous experiences enabled but not limited by our disciplinary boundaries. We do not want to ask how a vaudeville performance artist enriches the academic work of a religious historian or how a critic of Anglo-Saxon poetry brings new perspectives to the population genetics of beef cattle, but to explore the types of communities the university reveals to individuals set in motion together. Our presentations will combine elements of performance, critical work, and personal reflection in order to tell each other and our audience about the marvelous experiences that have been made possible by our swerving within the university.

Agriculture and the Humanities: Education as the Family Business for the Children of a Tinsmith and a Blacksmith

  • David Buchanan (North Dakota State University)

Serving Many Masters: Keeping Faith with Multiple Communities in Theological Education

  • Dan McKanan (Harvard Divinity School)

Ritual and Relations: Life as a Clown

  • Amy Virginia Buchanan (Independent Performer)

Freely Given: Finding Community Within and Without the Academy

  • Peter Buchanan (University of Toronto)

Session 5. Going Postal: Networks, Affect, and Retro-Technologies

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Jen Boyle (Coastal Carolina University) + Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville)

Co-Presiders: Jen Boyle and Eileen Joy

This session will examine the question of network affects, specifically in relation to (re)turns to outmoded communication technologies, such as the postcard and the cassette mixtape. In what ways do these supposedly outmoded forms of communication serve as important switching stations or branch offices for affective-communitarian postal systems that participate in what Derrida would say is both a lack and an excess of address (The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond)? What is the historicity of various ‘postal systems’ (both real and imagined) and their relation to affect, as well as the ways in which they engage in what Derrida termed ‘postal maneuvering,’ where we see the entangled operations of ‘relays, delay, anticipation, destination, telecommunicating, network, the possibility, and therefore the fatal necessity of going astray’? How to think more strategically about the temporal lease-dates of certain ‘postal systems,’ especially in an age when the acceleration of everything has become so profound (such that, whereas celluloid cinema, now in its twilight, had a good run of over 100 years, DVDs have come and will likely be gone in less than 20 years, and the printed book, somehow, hangs on after 500 years)? How might we better explore how specific, networked engagements with older communication technologies (pre-Internet and even premodern) enable valuable ‘virtual’ spaces for what the social theorist Scott Lash calls ‘aesthetic reflexivity,’ and what affective communities and sub- or extra-institutional spaces might be crafted through networks relying on (re)turns to outmoded technologies, such as the letter, the book, the coded message, and so on?

“I nevere dide thing with more peyne / Than writen this”: Hyperlinks, Dead Letters, Intercepted Messages in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Man of Law’s Tale

  • David Hadbawnik (University of Buffalo, SUNY)

Post By a Thousand Cuts: Hotel of Magical Thinking

  • Wan-Chuan Kao (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

Sir Orfeo in the Gutter: Repurposing an Old Story Through Found Objects

  • Emily Russell (George Washington University)

Return to Sender: Tracing the Ephemeral Networks of the Disputed 2009 Elections in Iran

  • Nedda Mehdizadeh (George Washington University)

A Miltonic January

  • Ahmed S. Bashi (Artist-Artifacter: YouTube Channel + theahmadbashi@gmail.com)

Fort Shelby Hotel, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Thursday, Sep. 20th

5:30 – 7:00 pm @The Colonnade Hotel

120 Hungtington Avenue

Room: Huntington I

PLENARY SESSION I:

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen + Lindy Elkins-Tanton

The Deep and the Personal: The Earth, Time, and Thought

In all disciplines researchers approach common questions: Where are we from? How do we comprehend nonhuman scales of time and being? What is the relationship between Earth and life on Earth? Do our all too human limitations compel us to apprehend the world only in anthropomorphic terms? Critical theorists, historians, observational scientists, and artists use tools so different as to be unrecognizable to each other, and as they reach each increment of new understanding they describe their conclusions with incompatible vocabularies. To surpass the barriers of understanding between disciplines, various frameworks and conclusions can all be assessed together by answering the meta-questions, What interpretive power does your theory convey? What does it reveal that previous theories did not? And what critical confusions does it clear up? Does knowledge progress in a linear fashion? Can supposedly surpassed modes of knowing the universe offer insights that resonate with and perhaps even advance contemporary modes? What is the most effective way to convey knowledge about time scales and distances too vast to be easily understood? Can art (which often works on an affective register) and science (which generally relies upon a more cognitive method) ally themselves in a project of thinking beyond the local and the merely human?

In this question-and-answer format, Cohen and Elkins-Tanton will take turns asking these common questions, and answering them with attention to the meta-questions that allow us to bridge and compare their seemingly remote disciplines. Elkins-Tanton will explain her research and the state-of-the-art in planetary physics in understanding the timeline and mechanisms of the formation of our solar system, and Cohen will speak about his recent work on medieval understandings of the animate nature of matter (especially stone), the complicated ways that “deep time” have been historically imagined, and the recent philosophical movement known as object oriented ontology.


Reception @The Colonnade

Room: Foyer I/II

7:00 – 8:00 pm

After-Gathering:

“History’s Supposed to Be Boring: Nobody Told Us”

Brasserie Jo: Colonnade Hotel

10:00 pm to midnight


Luben Apartments, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Friday, Sep. 21st

10:00 – 11:30 am

Session 6. Digging in the Ruins: Medievalism and the Uncanny in the University I

Ballroom, Curry Student Center, 2nd Floor

Co-Organizers: Laurie Finke (Kenyon College) + Martin Shichtman (Eastern Michigan University)

Co-Presiders: Laurie Finke + Martin Shichtman

Flaneur: Carolyn Dinshaw (New York University)

On February 27, 1949 a fire broke out in Kenyon College’s oldest landmark building, Old Kenyon, killing nine; there are reports that spirits walk in its ruins even after rebuilding, swelling the ranks of college ghosts. The college archive actually has a folder labeled “ghosts.”  Doesn’t every university older than 100 years have similar tales? The two panels on the Uncanny (Sessions 6 and 12) propose to explore the Uncanny that haunts the site of the university, a site dedicated to reason, critique, and empiricism. How do we incorporate the mystical, the spectral, those things we cannot see but only perhaps glimpse in the corner of an eye? In Shakespearean Negotiations, Stephen Greenblatt writes, “I began with the desire to speak to the dead.” How literally are we to take this rather macabre scholarly ambition?  Did Greenblatt really hope to conjure the spirits of the past? Is that what literature is for?  Philosophy? History? Religion? Do the sciences have their own Uncanny now that the mystic writing pad has become reality in the iPad? The Uncanny, according to Nicholas Royle, “is concerned with the strange, weird and mysterious, with a flickering sense (but not conviction) of something supernatural” (The Uncanny: An Introduction). In this session we want to wonder whether the medieval isn’t the Uncanny that haunts the rationalism of the university, with medievalism serving as its avatar. Consider the various interventions scholarship makes into the realm of the Uncanny, as well as the various interventions the Uncanny makes into the realm of scholarship. We hope to explore such topics as wonder, telepathy, magic, automatic writing, the irrational, the ruin, superstition, awe, mystery, ghosts, déjà vu, cannibalism, religion, premature burial, the afterlife, and phantom text.

Disciplinary Dark Matter

  • Amy S. Kaufman (Middle State Tennessee University) + Laura White (Middle Tennessee State University)

Racialized Time: Formulating the Medieval Jew through English Chrononormativity

  • Molly Lewis (George Washington University)

Haunted by Stories: Translation, Ghostliness, and the Confessio Amantis

  • Shyama Rajendran (George Washington University)

Haunts in the Academy: Medievalists, Vampires and Witches (Oh My!)

  • Susan Aronstein (University of Wyoming)

Session 7. Future-Philology

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Sponsor: Society for Future Philology [SFP]

Organizer: Daniel Remein (New York University)

Presider: Daniel Remein

Future-Philology (FP) is a sub-discipline/methodology of Philology writ large. Philology is often mis-characterized as only interested in the past. Philology remains perhaps most commonly characterized as a discipline or method to be brought to bear on the vast corpus of texts from human history, especially in relation to those languages slandered as ‘dead,’ and is also often seen as hostile to presentist or future-oriented thought. FP distinguishes itself from Philology writ-large negatively as a corrective to this partial error and positively as a science fiction avant-garde from within the ranks of those most trained to read languages from the past. The philia (love) of philology is directed at Logos and not limited to incarnations of no-longer-spoken human language. Nor is it so certain that philology writ large, much less the specific and particular focus of FP, could be circumscribed as either discipline or methodology. This panel will herald the Society for Future Philology (SFP) with a set of remarks delineating the field of FP and modeling its practice around a set of central questions: is Philology in general or FP to be understood as discipline, as method, as theory, or as what else (field, orientation, etc)? How is SFP to care for the future? What is the future of language and who is attending to it and why? How do we read/love the logos of the future? What can FP do that nothing else can — how and why should be be distinguished as a part of the humanities?

Future-Philologists:

  • Matthieu Boyd (Fairleigh Dickinson University)
  • Michael E. Moore (University of Iowa)
  • Chris Piuma (University of Toronto)
  • Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (University of Aberdeen)
  • Michelle Warren (Dartmouth College)
  • Lisa Weston (California State University-Fresno)

Session 8. Intellectual Crimes: Theft, Punking, and Roguish Behavior

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Craig Dionne (Eastern Michigan University) + Steve Mentz (St John’s University)

Presider-Flaneur: Diana Henderson (M.I.T.)

All our ideas come from somewhere else. We may claim possession for a while, but they never start as ours, and never stay ours for long. Once in a while we think certain ideas are our own, or that they materialize from some mysterious unknown place, or that they emerge from the fleeting-ness of the literary encounter. But mostly — we may as well admit it — we steal them, hold on to them for a while, and then misrepresent them on their way out. This session reveals the not-so-scandalous truth of intellectual theft to think past simplistic ideas about intellectual property toward more dynamic, open, and uncomfortable misappropriations, misreadings, and other forms of exchange.

Marlin Twine

  • Steve Mentz (St John’s University)

On Getting Punked

  • Craig Dionne (Eastern Michigan University)

I Was So Right About That: Social Class and the Academy

  • Sharon O’Dair (University of Alabama)

Mentoring, Influence, and Theft

  • Adam Zucker (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

[11:30 am - 1:30 pm: LUNCH BREAK]

Melted Clock, Technological High School, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Friday, Sep. 21st

1:30 – 3:00 pm

Session 9. Impure Collaborations

Ballroom, Curry Student Center, 2nd Floor

Co-Organizers: Brantley L. Bryant + Sakina Bryant (Sonoma State University)

Co-Presiders: Brantley L. Bryant + Sakina Bryant

Flaneur: Jeffrey J. Cohen

This panel explores collaborations that challenge the customary professional expectations of academic being-together. What kinds of shared work beckon beyond the sanitized templates for “objective” (“pure”) and “professional” academic collaboration? How can we best make visible the ways in which that affinity, friendship, eros, identity, political engagement, and other off-the-CV connections give us ways of working outside of often constrictive and normative academic hierarchies and working conditions?

Our Childhoods: A Sororal Collaboration

  • Natalia Cecire (Yale University) + Maria Sachiko Cecire (Bard College)

Mimesis, Scavenging, Collaborative Encounter and the Ethnographic Sensibility: Scenes from an Impure Discipline

  • Caroline Osella (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) + Sean Furmage (American University)

Playing (with) Music: A Two-Voice Rondeau

  • Elizabeth R. Upton (University of California, Los Angeles) + Brian Upton (Senior Game Designer, Sony PlayStation)

A Collaboration: Fuck That // Fuck That: A Collaboration

  • Melissa J. Jones (Eastern Michigan University) + Maura J. Smyth (Harvard University)

Who Are The We?

  • Tom Prendergast (College of Wooster) + Stephanie Trigg (University of Melbourne)

You and Only You: Writing to/for/with Our Friends, and with No Apologies

  • Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) + Anna Klosowska (Miami University, Ohio)

RESPONSE: Michael O’Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin)

Session 10. Enjoying the End (Again)

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Brianna Jewell (University of Texas at Austin) and Jenni Sapio (University of Texas at Austin)

Presider & Respondent: Michael Johnson (University of Texas at Austin)

Our proposed panel is a political, polemical, and at times personal intervention. We are a group of five graduate students from the English Department at the University of Texas at Austin, working together to articulate a raison d’etre, a methodology, and an ethos that will carry us through — and anticipate — the coming decades of scholarship. As students of medieval literature, and as people excited about the culture of the Middle Ages, we are concerned especially with the fate of medieval studies, both within the university and outside of it. Our investment in medieval studies joins us. But we are separated even as we begin to imagine our communion.  Some of us think that theorizing affective relationships to the past is productive, and ethically imperative, while others of us argue that focusing on the body is historically irresponsible and masturbatory. Some of us relish in print culture and issues of translatio in order to find our bearings in the medieval past, while some hear medieval women’s voices where others have not yet heard them, and some trace the travel of Latin, Anglo Norman, and Middle English texts to queer and unforeseen locations. Where we rub up against each other, we feel and begin to identify the ends of our approaches. And we wonder how open we are to — or how we change through — an encounter with an other’s end. Do we maintain ourselves, our positions, our approaches, so that we can continue to generate friction with the bodies outside of us — so that we can enjoy the end again (and again)?

Each panelist will perform an act of reading, a pedagogical and critical model of touching the past, which will vary as our own personal and erotic inclinations diverge. Cruising, fucking, poking, erotica, sluts, promiscuity, and orgasm will be figures in our discourse about the field, about our shared medieval objects and our fractious academic desires. We will be cruising through various methodologies (philological, technological, psychoanalytic, geographic, popular, biographic, and ritualistic) in order to test the rigidity of their boundaries and to discover their amorphous points of contact.

Discussants:

  • Raul Ariza Barile (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Brianna Jewell (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Aaron Mercier (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Jenni Sapio (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Christopher Taylor (University of Texas at Austin)

Session 11. Textual Fault Lines

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Anne Laskaya (University of Oregon) + Eve Salisbury (Western Michigan University)

Presider: Christina V. Cedillo (Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow)

This session discusses fault-lines as discrepancies, erasures and “errors” in manuscripts, editions, and visual materials that lead to productive meditation, analysis, and disagreement. We explore generally-unacknowledged erasures that — precisely because of their performance as an “unseen” or “unremarked” fault/error/revision — allow productive work and thought. We offer five short presentations that focus on medieval English textual studies and book history, Andalusian/Arabic maps, and late-medieval Spanish manuscript miniatures. Emily Burnham considers the “fault-line” as the chasm between maps and their verbal contexts in Andalusian geographies. Katherine Millersdaughter finds that the erasure of the Geat woman’s lament co-occuring with damage in the Beowulf manuscript offers an opening for her own meditation. Megan Cook explores one specific copy of Thomas Speght’s 1598 edition of Chaucer that harbors the spectre of Francis Thynne whose copious annotations fill the margins with commentary, complaint, and emendation. Anthony Cárdenas-Rotunno explores a triple fault-line between a Galician-Portuguese poetic text, Castilian marginal prose text, and a seismic shift in meaning created by lavish manuscript miniatures accompanying one of the Cantigas de Santa Maria found in a thirteenth-century codex. Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury reflect on errors, choices, and dilemmas in their first TEAMS edition of the Middle English Breton Lays and invite feedback (scholarly and pedagogical) as they prepare a second edition.  Together, we will celebrate, regret, grieve, refuse, interrogate, explore, love, rapelle the textual/editorial  “fault.”

Lines Drawn on an Unseen Map: Invisible Cartography and a Textual Earth

  • Emily Burnham (New York University)

Fire, Smoke, the Missing Word, the Thrown Voice, the Geatwoman

  • Katherine Millersdaughter (Community College of Denver)

The Book as a Haunted House

  • Megan Cook (Bowdoin College)

The Fault-Line between Frauendienst and Mariendienst: Alfonso X’s Love-Stricken Knight

  • Anthony Cárdenas-Rotunno (University of New Mexico)

Whose Fault Is It? Ave/Eva Speak Again

  • Anne Laskaya (University of Oregon) + Eve Salisbury (Western Michigan University)

Classroom, St Margaret Mary School, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Friday, Sep. 21st

3:15 – 4:45 pm

Session 12. Digging in the Ruins: Medievalism and the Uncanny in the University II

Ballroom, Curry Student Center, 2nd Floor

Co-Organizers: Laurie Finke (Kenyon College) + Martin Shichtman (Eastern Michigan University)

Co-Presiders: Laurie Finke + Martin Shichtman

Flaneur: Marget Long

On February 27, 1949 a fire broke out in Kenyon College’s oldest landmark building, Old Kenyon, killing nine; there are reports that spirits walk in its ruins even after rebuilding, swelling the ranks of college ghosts. The college archive actually has a folder labeled “ghosts.”  Doesn’t every university older than 100 years have similar tales? The two panels on the Uncanny (Sessions 6 and 12) propose to explore the Uncanny that haunts the site of the university, a site dedicated to reason, critique, and empiricism. How do we incorporate the mystical, the spectral, those things we cannot see but only perhaps glimpse in the corner of an eye? In Shakespearean Negotiations, Stephen Greenblatt writes, “I began with the desire to speak to the dead.” How literally are we to take this rather macabre scholarly ambition?  Did Greenblatt really hope to conjure the spirits of the past? Is that what literature is for?  Philosophy? History? Religion? Do the sciences have their own Uncanny now that the mystic writing pad has become reality in the iPad? The Uncanny, according to Nicholas Royle, “is concerned with the strange, weird and mysterious, with a flickering sense (but not conviction) of something supernatural” (The Uncanny: An Introduction). In this session we want to wonder whether the medieval isn’t the Uncanny that haunts the rationalism of the university, with medievalism serving as its avatar. Consider the various interventions scholarship makes into the realm of the Uncanny, as well as the various interventions the Uncanny makes into the realm of scholarship. We hope to explore such topics as wonder, telepathy, magic, automatic writing, the irrational, the ruin, superstition, awe, mystery, ghosts, déjà vu, cannibalism, religion, premature burial, the afterlife, and phantom text.

Richard II Buried Alive: The Specter of Sovereignty and the Shakespearean Uncanny

  • Hannah Markley (Emory University)

Gathering (of the) Dust: Medieval Reliquaries and Modern Remains

  • Miriam Stanton (Williams College Museum of Art)

The Uncanny Space of the University

  • Tom Prendergast (College of Wooster)

Lux et Veritas: Dropping Acid on Institutional Memory

  • Mary Ramsey (Eastern Michigan University)

Session 13. All in a Jurnal’s Work: A BABEL Wayzgoose

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Sponsor: continent.

Organizers: Nico Jenkins (Husson University) + Isaac Linder (European Graduate School)

Presider: Nico Jenkins

Traditionally, a wayzgoose was a celebration at the end of a printer’s year, a night off in the late fall before the work began of printing by candlelight. According to the OED, the Master Printer would make for the journeymen “a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night.” Following in this line, continent. proposes in its publication(s) a night out and a good Feast, away from the noxious fumes of the Academy and into a night of revelry which begins, but does not end, at the alehouse or Tavern. continent. proposes that the thinking of the Academy be freed to be thought elsewhere, in the alleys and doorways of the village and cities, encountered not in the strictly defined spaces of the classroom and blackboard (now white) but anticipated and found where thinking occurs.

Historically, academic journals have served a different purpose than the Academy itself. Journals have served as privileged sites for the articulation and concretization of specific modes of knowledge and control (insemination of those ideas has been formalized in the classroom, in seminar). In contrast, the academic journal is post-partum and has been an old-boys club, an insider trading network in which truths are (re)circulated against themselves, forming a Maginot Line against whatever is new, or the distinctly challenging. All in a Jurnal’s Work will discuss (in part) the ramifications of cheap start-up publications that are challenging the traditional ensconced-in-ivory academic journals and their supporting infrastructures. The panel will be seeking a questioning (as a challenging) towards the discipline of knowledge production/fabrication (of truth[s]) and the event of the Academy (and its publications) as it has evolved and continues to (d)evolve. Issues to be discussed will revolve around the power of academic publishing and its origins, hierarchical versus horizontal academic modules (is there a place for the General Assembly in academia?) and the evolving idea of the Multiversity as a site(s) of a (BABELing) multivocality in the wake of the University of Disaster.

Jurnalistes:

  • Nico Jenkins (Husson University + continent. journal)
  • Adam Staley Groves (National University of Singapore, Tembusu College + continent. journal)
  • Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei (University of Aberdeen + continent. journal + Uitgeverij)
  • Isaac Linder (European Graduate School + continent. journal)
  • Daniel Remein (New York University + Whiskey & Fox)
  • Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville + punctum books)

Session 14. Ecomaterialism

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Jeffrey J. Cohen (George Washington University) + Lowell Duckert (West Virginia University)

Presider: Joseph Donaldson (Northern Illinois University)

Flaneur: Lindy Elkins-Tanton (Carnegie Institution for Science)

This session previews work that will be included in a special issue of postmedieval in spring 2013. Taking up Jane Bennett’s challenge in the last chapter of her book Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things to rethink environment and landscape from an actor-network point of view, the papers focus upon the meeting of ecocriticisim with other modes of theoretical and critical inquiry. Rather than a traditional ecocritical mode that traces the interface of human with landscape, we are interested in reconceiving ecomaterial spaces and objects as a web of co-constituitive and hybrid actants.

  • Fire: Jeffrey J. Cohen (George Washington University) + Stephanie Trigg (University of Melbourne)
  • Water: Sharon O’Dair (University of Alabama)
  • Air: Steve Mentz (St Johns University)
  • Earth: Alfred Siewers (Bucknell University)
  • Abyss: Karl Steel (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
  • Glacier: Lowell Duckert (West Virginia University)

Packard Motors Plant, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Friday, Sep. 21st

5:30 – 6:45 pm @Alumni Center

716 Columbus Place: 6th Floor Pavilion

PLENARY SESSION II:

Jane Bennett

Sympathy as Material Power

The alchemist-physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) experienced the natural world as held together by a complex system of divinely implanted sympathies and antipathies, likes and dislikes, resemblances and distorted repetitions. Paracelsus was both materialist and Christian in sensibility:  he believed that a meticulous attentiveness to the physical attributes of, say, a plant would provide to man hints about the uses for which God intended it. “The chicory stands under a special influence of the sun; this is seen in its leaves, which always bend toward the sun as though they wanted to show it gratitude. Hence it is most effective while the sun is shining . . . .”

Is there a way to keep Paracelsus’s exquisite attunement to the sensuous specificities of bodies, but lose or loosen his theology, anthropocentrism, organicism? In this talk, I try to theorize sympathy — the presence of affecting affinities between bodies — within the context of recent attempts ( in the new materialisms, in object-oriented philosophy, in neo-vitalisms, in ecological theory) to articulate a distinctively material form of agency or efficacy. I find help for this project in Walt Whitman’s invocations of “sympathy” in Leaves of Grass (1891-1892). For Whitman as for Paracelsus, sympathy is a force that often goes unremarked as the ordinary fact that materials always have some leanings: sunflowers tilt toward the sun, stones tend toward the ground, human heads have a propensity to tilt slightly to one side when listening closely. I examine both the kind of sympathy that Whitman sees at work between the bodies of people and the bodies of animals or landscapes, and then the even stranger mimesis by which a set of bodily postures (tilted head, bent back, open mouth) can, he avers, align itself with a set of democratic moods or ethical dispositions (nonchalance, industriousness, civic affection).

David Kaiser

How the Hippies Saved Physics

In recent years, the field of quantum information science — an amalgam of topics ranging from quantum encryption, to quantum computing, quantum teleportation, and more — has catapulted to the cutting edge of physics. The tremendous excitement marks the tail-end of a long-simmering Cinderella story. Long before the big budgets and dedicated teams, the field moldered on the scientific sidelines. In fact, the pre-history of the field stretches back, in part, to the hazy excesses of the 1970s New Age movement. Many of the ideas that now occupy the core of quantum information science once found their home amid an anything-goes counterculture frenzy, a mishmash of spoon-bending psychics, Eastern mysticism, LSD trips, CIA spooks chasing mind-reading dreams, and comparable “Age of Aquarius” enthusiasms. For the better part of a decade, the concepts that would, in time, blossom into developments like quantum encryption were bandied about in late-night bull sessions and hawked by proponents of a burgeoning self-help movement — more snake oil than stock option. This talk describes the field’s bumpy transition from New Age to cutting edge.


Reception @Alumni Center

Faculty Club, 6th Floor

6:45 – 7:45 pm

Special After-Event:

Thomas Meyer Reads from His New Translation of Beowulf

[while some of us drink like Danes and Geats]

Kitchen Restaurant: 560 Tremont Street

10:00 pm – midnight


Fisher Body 21 Plant, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Saturday, Sep. 22nd

9:30 – 11:00 am

Session 15. The Urmadic University

McLeod A.318, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Tony Fry (Griffith University, Australia)

Presider: Tony Fry

Flaneurs: Sans façon (Charles Blanc + Tristan Surtees)

The Urmadic University is a project that confronts the ‘defuturing’ nature of ‘education in error’ — a fundamental condition now intrinsic to higher education globally. It recognises that it is not sufficient to find ways to work within ‘the ruins’ of the institution (Bill Readings), nor to revitalise the spirit of the Enlightenment’s university project (Derrida). Rather, in worlds of unsettlement — those worlds within ‘the world’ made unsustainable — new knowledge, educational practices and institutional forms are urgently needed. ‘Nomadic education’ starts to talk of such new knowledge (Semetsky et al), and a very basic start has been made to advance institutional transformation by developing the idea and content of ‘the university that can move’ (the Urmadic University). However, to create knowledge able to remake the university, and break the extant institution from its instrumentalised and degenerate service provision to the status quo, a major reframing of what there is to learn is required. Against this background and challenge, the panel will present a historical analysis, contemporary argument and a politico-pedagogic strategy.

The Critic: Looking Back at Two Epochs of the University and the Urmadic Form of its Futuring

  • Tony Fry (Design Futures, Griffith University)

The Educator: How to Learn and How to Teach in the Frame of the Urmadic

  • Cameron Tonkinwise (Design Thinking and Sustainability, Parsons The New School of Design)

The Student: What I Have Learned So Far in the Proto-Form of the Urmadic University

  • Bec Barnett (Design Practice Intern, Goldsmiths College, University of London)

RESPONSE: Georges Van Den Abbeele (Northeastern University)

Session 16. Synaesthetics: Sensory Integration Against the Disciplines

Room 333 [Senate Chambers], Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Holly Dugan (George Washington University) + Lara Farina (West Virginia University)

Co-Presiders: Holly Dugan + Lara Farina

That the University’s task is the production of “abstraction” from sensory perception is readily apparent from both its division of the senses among the disciplines and its resistance to incorporating some sensory experiences altogether. While sight and sound find their disciplinary homes in Art History and Music, for example, taste, smell, and touch are generally relegated to the non-academic study of connoisseurship (such as perfumery, wine tasting, and other forms of luxury expertise). Yet the division of the senses into the traditional five divisions, each with its proper field of use, has seldom gone unchallenged in the past or the present. Recent studies of sensation have argued in particular that it is time to heed the interaction of supposedly distinct senses and to think about new constellations of sensory experience. Whether they take the form of the neurologist’s “multimodal” sensory integrations or the alternative sense organs described by “disabled” writers and performers, these re-organized sensations suggest a need for (interdisciplinary?)(anti-disciplinary?) methods of understanding.

Transmodal Poetics: Medieval Neurology, Synaesthesia, and Literary Disability

  • Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University)

Ekphrasis and the Dreaming Imagination

  • Emily Gephart (School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University)

Sex and Synaesthesia

  • Will Stockton (Clemson University)

Tendered Objects

  • Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria)

A Pointless Subject: Jacques Lacan on Cartesian Perspective

  • Ian Sampson (Brown University)

Session 17. Hoarders

McLeod A.318/B.320, Curry Student Center

Sponsor: The Material Collective

Presider: Maggie Williams (William Paterson University)

Flaneur: Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University)

Discovered in 2009 near Litchfield, England, the Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon metalwork yet found: over 3500 items of gold and silver, all probably martial in character and all of exceptional craftsmanship. The Hoard may have been battle treasure, stripped and buried for safekeeping, and never recovered — though little is known of its origins or context. Taking as our trysting place this “object” which is at once singular and collective, these two sessions, Session 17: Hoarders (in which we operate in the perspectives of individual disciplines: art, art history, conservation, museology) & Session 19: Hordes (in which we perform collaborative and collective approaches, and migrate across disciplinary borders), feature responses to the Staffordshire Hoard from medievalists, artists, scientists, performers, poets, curators, art historians, educators, and philosophers. This unfolding depends on conversation across temporal and methodological divides: curious collaborators will explore both the particularly inflected knowledge[s] of disciplinary approaches, and the possibilities for collective insight.

Mediating Meanings: Conservation of the Staffordshire Hoard

  • Brian Castriota (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University)

Garnets, Gold, and Dirt: The Edges of Materiality

  • Karen Overbey (Tufts University)

The Hoard Speaks

  • Nancy Thompson (St Olaf College) + Ben C. Tilghman (Lawrence University)

From Hoarders to the Hoard: Giving Disciplinary Legitimacy to Undisciplined Collecting

  • Jennifer Borland (Oklahoma State University) + Louise Siddons (Oklahoma State University)

Thieves and Reivers

A Performative Think-Fest

  • You (yes, You)

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Saturday, Sep. 22nd

11:15 – 12:45 pm

Session 18. Parts, Wholes, and the New

McLeod A.318, Curry Student Center

Sponsor: Organism for Poetic Research [OPR]

Co-Organizers: Daniel Remein (New York University) + Ada Smailbegovic (New York University) + Rachael Wilson (New York University)

Presider: Erika Boeckeler (Northeastern University)

A number of recent methodologies have been emerging across a range or disciplines and fields in an attempt to think anew the problem of parts, wholes, and the new, and to re-frame this question as of pressing importance to both the humanities and the sciences. Briefly put, this question asks how things can seem at one point discrete and radically particular, and yet also seem either subsumed as mere parts of a larger phenomena or to give way to an entirely new phenomena which do not seem reducible to their previously extant constituent parts. Systems theorists have considered how a system can produce something anew which is irreducible to the parts which precede it diachronically or which make it up at any synchronic moment. Between the CERN accelerator, the Hubble telescope, and String Theory, experimental, observational, and theoretical physics all remain poised to significantly reframe the question of emergence on both micro and macro scales.

Given the recent reframing of this question as essential for contemporary philosophers, critics, poets, and scientists, this panel will measure the capacities and limits of these and other discrete disciplinary approaches to the question of parts, wholes, and the new. While it is tempting to proceed via an interdisciplinary patchwork, we would like to explore what a reliance on disciplinary differences might bring to this set of questions. What can different disciplines do in relation to this problem that others cannot? What irreducible disciplinary or methodological differences does this problem bring into relief and why? To what extent are different disciplines or methodologies capable or desirous of describing the relations of parts, wholes, and the new, as opposed to producing, multiplying, or inflecting such relations (and to what extent could this reframe the question of disciplinarity in terms of an odd realignment of parts of the sciences and of the humanities: observational science/descriptive criticism vs. experimental science/poetics)?

Discussants:

  • Aranye Fradenburg (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Deirdre Joy (Evolutionary Biologist)
  • Dorothy Kim (Vassar College) + Laura Lebow (Vassar College) + Jillian Scharr (Vassar College)
  • Ada Smailgebovic (New York University)
  • Dan Rudmann (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Daniel Remein (New York University)

RESPONDENT: Michael O’Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin)

Session 19. Hordes

Room 333 [Senate Chambers], Curry Student Center

Sponsor: The Material Collective

Presider: Karen Overbey (Tufts University)

Discovered in 2009 near Litchfield, England, the Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon metalwork yet found: over 3500 items of gold and silver, all probably martial in character and all of exceptional craftsmanship. The Hoard may have been battle treasure, stripped and buried for safekeeping, and never recovered — though little is known of its origins or context. Taking as our trysting place this “object” which is at once singular and collective, these two sessions, Session 17: Hoarders (in which we operate in the perspectives of individual disciplines: art, art history, conservation, museology) & Session 19: Hordes (in which we perform collaborative and collective approaches, and migrate across disciplinary borders), feature responses to the Staffordshire Hoard from medievalists, artists, scientists, performers, poets, curators, art historians, educators, and philosophers. This unfolding depends on conversation across temporal and methodological divides: curious collaborators will explore both the particularly inflected knowledge[s] of disciplinary approaches, and the possibilities for collective insight.

Crafting the Hoard

  • Jennifer Borland (Art History, Oklahoma State University) + Barbara Robertson (Visual Artist & Art Conservation, Seattle Art Museum)

Unpacking Meaning in the Hoard: “Somebody now forgotten had buried the riches of a high born race in this ancient cache” (Beowulf) and We See It Today Through our Imaginations and our Training

  • Gale Justin (Educational Technology/History, Pratt Institute) + Diane Marks (English, Brooklyn College, CUNY)

Rebuilding Fabulated Bodies of the Hoarders

  • Asa Mittman (Art History, California State University, Chico) + Patricia MacCormack (English/Film & Media, Angela Ruskin University) *McCormack will be present in “virtual” but not bodily form

Stimulacrum: Virtual Stones and Real Desires

  • Anne Harris (Art History, DePauw University) + Jim Mills (Geosciences, DePauw University) + Daniel Gurnon (Biochemistry, DePauw University)

Violent Remains: Past and Future

  • Carlee Bradbury (Art History, Radford University) + Karie Edwards (Photographer) + Courtney Lee Weida (Art Education, Adelphi University)

Session 20. Will It Blend? Equipping the Humanities Lab

McLeod B.320, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria) + Myra Seaman (College of Charleston)

Co-Presiders: Allan Mitchell + Myra Seaman

Flaneur: David Kaiser (M.I.T.)

This session will be a laboratory in which participants will test hypotheses about what, in addition to sexy metaphors, might be the product of humanist encounters with the hard sciences. The working question will be: can the humanities and the sciences interface, and if so, what might that look like? Such hypotheses might seem belated and unnecessary, given the growing evidence, for example, of humanists’ application of information technology in sites such as the digital humanities, literary forensics, and distant reading, or the development of a cognitive literary studies or so-called “new” materialisms. How, nevertheless, might the pure research sciences enrich the humanities? The aim of the session will be to retool the laboratory such that light and not only heat will be generated from the collision of the sciences and the humanities. Can smashing the two together produce new ways of knowing? Can it affect the core content of the humanities as well as its styles? The organizers anticipate that humanist experimenters will pursue a range of possibly competing hypotheses.

Collaborative ARGs: Modelling Heart and Science Among the Ruins

  • Tina Kelleher (Towson University)

Is Physics a Discipline?

  • Liza Blake (New York University)

What if Everything is Always Unruly Complexity? From Mathematical Ecology to Raymond Williams and into Open Spaces Beyond

  • Peter Taylor (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

Caliban’s Umwelt: A ‘Dream’ of Biological Carpentry

  • Haylie Swenson (George Washington University)

Cabbages and Kings: Mathematics and the Humanities

  • Elizabeth Sklar (Wayne State University) + Jessica Sklar (Pacific Lutheran University)

Alchemical Allegory

  • Kathryn Vomero Santos (New York University)

Session 21. What Is Critical Thinking?

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Justice, CUNY) + Ruth Evans (Saint Louis University)

Presider: Alexis Kellner Becker (Harvard University)

Everyone in educational institutions claims to exercise “critical thinking,” yet few agree on what it means. The use and abuse of the phrase creates an empty/full semantic category, powered by hot air yet still somehow meaningful: a kind of pedagogical and intellectual equivalent of the over-used term “excellent” that was the subject of Bill Readings’ critique of “the culture of excellence” promoted by US and UK universities in the 1990s and beyond in his book The University in Ruins. Before we trot out “critical thinking” on next semester’s syllabus as a skill we aim to practice ourselves and develop in our students, or before we claim that its true home is in our discipline rather than anyone else’s, let us use this session to think further — think “critically” — about its meanings. Having read some common texts in advance (see below), we aim to generate no answers, only a list of good questions, maybe some useful background knowledge and some partial insights.

Reading List

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 2. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Heidegger, Martin. What is Called Thinking? Trans. J. Glenn Gray. New York: Harper and Row, 1968.

Hollywood, Amy, “Reading as Self-Annihilation.” Polemic: Critical or Uncritical. Ed. Jane Gallop. New York: Routledge, 2004. 39-63.

Horkheimer, Max (1976). “Traditional and Critical Theory” (1937). The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory. Ed. Fred Rush. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.

Latour, Bruno. “An Attempt at a ‘Compositionist Manifesto.’” New Literary History 41 (2010): 471-490.

Latour, Bruno. “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam?” Critical Inquiry 30 (2004): 225-48.

Readings, Bill. “The Scene of Teaching.” The University in Ruins. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1996. 150-65.

Warner, Michael. “Uncritical Reading.” Polemic: Critical or Uncritical. Ed. Jane Gallop. New York: Routledge, 2004. 13-38.

What Does a Critical Thinker Look Like?

  • Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Justice, CUNY)

A Critical Theory of Critical Thinking

  • Matthew H. Bowker (Medaille College) + Patrick Fazioli (Medaille College)

Medieval Pedagogy Informs ‘Critical Thinking’: Affective Response and Ethical Pause

  • Candace Barrington (Central Connecticut State University)

The End of Critique?

  • Ruth Evans (Saint Louis University)

[12:45 - 2:00 pm: LUNCH BREAK]

Michigan Central Station, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Saturday, Sep. 22nd

2:00 – 3:30 pm

Session 22. #Occupy Boston: Humanities and Praxis

McLeod C.322, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Julie Orlemanski (Boston College)

Presider: Julie Orlemanski

How do we experience the relationship between the humanities and political praxis? How do we conceive the connections between reading and doing, interpretation and action — as well as what separates them? This panel is composed of participants whose paths crossed in the course of the #Occupy Boston movement. We first encountered one another as protesters, citizens, or members of the 99%, but we also share the fact that we study or teach in the humanities. The coincidence of those two circumstances, like the coincidence of terms in this session’s title, creates the occasion for our conversation. Topics to possibly consider during this session: economic inequalities within higher education; reimaginings of the “public intellectual”; activist genealogies and traditions; didactic art; “committed” and “autonomous” literature (and scholarship); the purpose of the humanities; critique; the ancient opposition of “sophism” and “philosophy”; pedagogical tactics; disruptions of historical linearity through the study of the past; “liberation philology”; the “impossibility” of the humanities under capitalism; forms and forums for humanistic discourse; the risks of holding the humanities and praxis too close together, or too far apart, and so on  . . . .

Discussants:

  • Christian Beck (University of Central Florida)
  • Ian Cornelius (Yale University)
  • Carl Martin (Norwich University)
  • Julie Orlemanski (Boston College)
  • Monica Poole (Bunker Hill Community College)
  • Joseph Ramsey (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)

Session 23. Se7en Undeadly ScIeNceS: The Trivium and Quadrivium in the Forking Multiversity

Room 333 [Senate Chambers], Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Scott Maisano (University of Massachusetts, Boston) + Alex Mueller (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

Presider: Alex Mueller

What do you do with a “university in ruins”?  Stick a fork in it. Better yet, stick two forks — the trivium and quadrivium — in it.

In David Fincher’s nineties neo-noir film, Se7en, a serial killer is determined, à la Bill Readings, “not to let the question of disciplinarity disappear.” Rather than bemoaning a generalized (or interdisciplinary) “corruption” or “rottenness” at the heart of modern culture, he seeks to remind the world of the specificity medieval theologians once attributed to the seven deadly sins.  Likewise, this panel calls attention to the particularity of the seven liberal arts — aka the seven liberal sciences — at the heart of medieval curricula and attempts to reimagine the relevance and resonance of these capacious categories vis-à-vis today’s “posthumanities” and tomorrow’s “multiversity.”

How might the trivium and quadrivium reconstitute “the university in ruins” as a Borgesian “garden of forking paths”?  Such a labyrinthine vision of higher education is often the object of critique from those who insist that postsecondary schooling should be a career-driven, efficient, straight line (the shortest possible distance) to employment rather than a wandering series of “left” turns through the liberal arts that result in less tangible manifestations of personal, communal, civic, or environmental enrichment.  Furthermore, our understanding of the liberal arts have been immeasurably transformed by discourses of humanism that have privileged human cognition and experience over and above those of the non-human animal, the vibrant object, and belief in the metaphysical or transcendent. Ultimately, this session aims to track the past, present, and future of the seven liberal arts, not only as they were defined by Martianus Capella and medieval schoolmasters, but also as they might have been defined and might yet be defined in postmedieval curricula and disciplinary fields.

  • Grammar: Christopher Cannon (New York University)
  • Rhetoric: Jill Ross (University of Toronto)
  • Logic: Eleanor Kaufman (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Geometry: Maura Smyth (Harvard University)
  • Arithmetic: Shankar Raman (M.I.T.)
  • Music: Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia)
  • Astronomy: Scott Maisano (University of Massachusetts, Boston)

Session 24. Wild Fermentation: Disciplined Knowledge and Drink

McLeod A.318, Curry Student Center

Co-Organizers: Nathan Kelber (University of Maryland) + Rob Wakeman (University of Maryland)

Co-Presiders: Nathan Kelber + Rob Wakeman

In the shadows of every university, the Alehouse provides a common font for our very best (and very worst) non-hierarchical thinking. If we “re-sound our disciplinary wells,” we will find that the aquifer beneath is infused with alcohol. Our goal is the inebriation of disciplinary limits: how might beer and wine prickle, tingle, blur, buzz, and nauseate the academic conversation? How might the abrogation of our disciplinary inhibitions encourage originality and creativity, new conversations, and new forms of knowledge-making? We propose to re-imagine the paper session as a drinking game, with rules for engaging, celebrating, and disciplining academic thought. Because discipline means more than mere memory and theory, but also praxis, we will be offering our own 14th-century style craft brew as a catalyst for discussion. Our aim is to bring post-conference conviviality into the conference session. We will examine the alehouse (like the after-conference) as a space that breaks down academic hierarchies and disciplinary limits. The result, we hope, will have the atmosphere of the anti-salon — a space for serious thinking in the Dionysian raw. What vigorous meditations, narrations, ramblings, and other forms of learned storytelling does Harry Bailey’s game provoke? What generic investigations result from the experiences and expertises of a diverse band “hooked up,” in the Democritean sense, at the Tabard Inn? Shunning the droning of papers, our commedia dell’arte takes place within the performative social order of the alehouse. The relationships between panel and audience will be liquid, allowing sufficient room for risk, error, openness, and honesty. This session will also seek to invoke the spirits of all ale-squires and ale-wives, tapsters and ostlers, butlers and chamblerlains, pot-companions, lick-wimbles, malt-wormes, and vine-fretters.

Tapsters:

  • David Swain (Southern New Hampshire University)
  • Will Meyers (Cambridge Brewing Company)
  • Susan Forscher Weiss (Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University)
  • April Oettinger (Goucher College)

Session 25. The Historiographic Ghost

McLeod B.320, Curry Student Center

Organizer: Stephen Higa (Bennington College)

Presider: Stephen Higa

In this session, historians (of many kinds) present creative pieces about the encounter with the historiographic ghost. In the course of our work, at what point do the ghosts of our subjects — the remnants, shadows, fragrances, muffled voices, sudden shifts in temperature or fleeting brushes against the skin — come back to haunt us?  How do we take into account the apparition, the revenant, and the necromantic in historical inquiry?  How do historians navigate the danger and taboo of flirting with the dead?  How does taboo affect history as discipline, structure, and institution?  In engaging such questions, this session will gesture toward a history that claims the power to transgress, endanger, frighten, and transform.

Let a Sleeping Horse Lie

  • Christopher Guilbert (Poet)

Danse Macabre

  • Maura Coughlin (Bryant University)

Set Fire to the Canon: What Ethnographic Naïveté Can Offer to Historiography

  • Saffo Papantonopoulou (The New School for Social Research)

Rhode Island Murder and Horror Stories in Performance: Adam Emery, Mercy Brown, and the Devil’s Footprint

  • Jacob Richman (Brown University)

Mucking Around in the Time Machine: Historians and the Archival Gaze

  • Michael Becker (Brown University)

Le Romaunt Noir

  • Sarah Langley (University of Montana)

Poem on video (title TBD)

  • Sarah Golda Schwartz (Poet)

The Golem’s Ghost: The Tech of the Rabbi of Prague, Comics, Science, Fiction, and the “Skin I Live In”

  • Gila Aloni

IMAGES, APPARITIONS

  • Beryl Schlossman (Northeastern University)

Bagley-Clifford Office, National Bank of Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Saturday, Sep. 22nd

4:15 – 5:30 pm @Gordon Chapel, Old South Church

645 Boylston Street

PLENARY SESSION III:

Carolyn Dinshaw + Marget Long

(Un)earthly Paradise

This talk explores two sites of frustrated desire: medieval depictions of Eden and modern representations of mirages. Sir John Mandeville’s account of a paradise that is forever lost and ever longed for — an inaccessible place that is nonetheless on the map — eerily prefigures that of the Arctic explorer looking for a continent that was seen but never existed. Looking at maps and travel narratives from the Middle Ages, along with nineteenth- and twentieth-century explorers’ journals, movies, cartoons, and Marget Long’s original photographs, we ask where these scenes of promise and breakdown might lead us, a text-oriented scholar and a visual artist, in the cruel and uncertain terrain of the university today.

Sans façon

What’s Art Got to Do With It?

Your language is of a remarkable purity, hygienic. But we don’t make, you have to understand, children with Hygiene. Quite the opposite! Creation is always a filthy fight. ~Louis Ferdinand Céline, Lettre à Ernzt Bendz, Cahiers de l’Herme

Sans façon began as an investigation between an architect and an artist and this discussion across disciplines has been the backbone of our art practice over the past 12 years. The desire to explore further the possibilities of working between ‘traditional’ fields and facilitating cross-fertilization has culminated in one of our current projects Watershed+, which we’ll talk about in this session. As we focus on function, efficiency and economy, the capacity of science and engineering to engage the public, or to contribute to our enjoyment of a place, becomes ever more obscure. Answers cannot come from any one specialty nor field of expertise, quite the opposite. There is a need for an expanded dialogue between disciplines in the way we build and understand our environments.

Watershed+ originated from the ambition to create a stronger connection between the public and their watershed – natural and constructed. Hosted by the Water Services department (UEP) of the City of Calgary, Watershed+ represents an innovative approach to public art. The focus of Watershed+ is not the creative object or the aesthetic but the development of the creative thinking. The program aims to develop awareness and pleasure in the environment, not by changing water management practice, nor developing a uniform visual language, but by creating a climate of opportunity for water initiatives. Through a range of initiatives, new commissions, creation of multi-disciplinary design teams and general creative dialogue, Watershed+ involves creative practitioners and develops creative practice from the conception stage. The program represents a major step in implementing new working methods and processes by embedding artists and, more specifically, their creative process within UEP core activities.


After-Party:

Karen Overbey’s Residence

9:00 pm to Midnight

[address/directions will be included in printed program]


Conference Committee: Arthur Bahr (M.I.T.), Alexis Kellner Becker (Harvard University), Erika Boeckeler (Northeastern University), Diana Henderson (M.I.T.), Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville), Kathleen Kelly (Northeastern University), Marina Leslie (Northeastern University), Julie Orlemanski (Boston College), Karen Overbey (Tufts University), Myra Seaman (College of Charleston), and Robert Stanton (Boston College).

Thus I propose an abandonment of disciplinary grounding but an abandonment that retains as structurally essential the question of the disciplinary form that can be given to knowledges. This is why the university should not exchange the rigid and outmoded disciplines for a simply amorphous interdisciplinary space in the humanities (as if we could still organize knowledge around the figure of “Man”). Rather, the loosening of disciplinary structures has to be made the opportunity for the installation of disciplinarity as a permanent question. . . . [which would] keep open the question of what it means to group knowledges in certain ways, and what it has meant that they have been so grouped in the past.

~Bill Readings, The University in Ruins

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