ISSM at Kalamazoo

ISSM is now seeking papers for three sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 10-13, 2018. Please see our calls for papers below for details. For more information about the conference itself, please visit the Congress website.

1) Medievalism, Racism, and the Academy: A joint round table with Medievalists of Color (MOC)
Students often come to Medieval Studies through video games, fantasy novels, tabletop D&D, movies, and other popular medievalisms. But this can present a skewed picture of the Middle Ages as racially homogenous. Unfortunately, some traditional approaches to teaching Medieval Studies can perpetuate this problem. Following recent ISSM sessions on race, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, and building on professional conversations launched at this year’s MOC workshop on Whiteness in Medieval Studies, our round table will consider how medievalism encountered both within and outside the classroom or embedded in academic structures might propagate racial bias. Participants might critique existing structures and/or offer suggestions for how research, teaching, administration, and academic social structures in both Medieval Studies and Medievalism Studies can be transformed to address these issues. Possible topics could include: diversity and the medieval curriculum, racial discourses in contemporary geopolitics or popular media, ethnonationalism and alt-right discourses on college campuses, medievalism and Islamophobia, the shifting demographics of medievalist scholars or enthusiasts, etc. Please send abstracts for papers of no more than ten minutes to Amy S. Kaufman (skaufmana at gmail) by September 1, 2017.

2) The New “Dark Ages”
The “Dark Ages” are back in the news, or at least the term is: the label has been applied to everything from the increasing erosion of women’s rights across the globe to the dystopian television worlds of The Handmaid’s Tale and Into the Badlands. Many people seem afraid that the world is inevitably returning to a “medieval” past of patriarchy, superstition, religious homogeny, censorship, and even monarchy. Medievalists, meanwhile, leap at these dim portraits of the Middle Ages to defend it from oversimplification. But sometimes, we dispel popular misconceptions without addressing continuities between the present and the past. For this panel, we’re seeking both papers that trace strong connections between the worst aspects of the Middle Ages and our possible futures and papers that interrogate contemporary anxieties and illusions about the past in light of real medieval history, literature, science, and art. Please send abstracts to Amy S. Kaufman (skaufmana at gmail) by September 1, 2017.

3) King Arthur 2017: A Round Table
Reviews have poured in for Guy Ritchie’s 2017 King Arthur, and some of them are pretty scathing. Chief among audience complaints is the film’s lack of authenticity: the story deviates so radically from medieval literature that Arthurian legend is barely recognizable. However, authenticity has always been a problematic way to evaluate Arthurian retellings. Sometimes called the “original fan-fiction,” medieval Arthurian legend is always revised and recreated to fit the political or cultural needs of a given period. And in fact, Ritchie’s film has been much better received among scholars of the Middle Ages. Participants in this round table will discuss the 2017 cinematic King Arthur and might answer some of the following questions: How do Ritchie’s changes fit into the canon of Arthurian revisions? How does the 2017 film inform meta-theoretical questions of authenticity surrounding Arthur himself? What do Ritchie’s changes tell us about our own cultural moment? Please send abstracts for papers of no more than ten minutes to Amy S. Kaufman (skaufmana at gmail) by September 1, 2017.

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