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postmedieval 6.3: Architecture of Colonizers/Architecture of Immigrants

Special Issue Edited by Paul B. Niell and Richard A. SundtOC.indd


Architecture of Colonizers/Architecture of Immigrants: Gothic in Latin America from the 16th to the 20th Centuries
Paul B. Niell and Richard A. Sundt


Late Gothic in the sixteenth-century Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Paul B. Niell

Biblical Gothic: Models, monarchs and Mexico
Jaime Lara

Late Gothic architecture at Guadalupe and Saña on the northern Peruvian coast and the function of rib vaulting’
Humberto Rodríguez-Camilloni
Origin and development of Neo-Gothic in the Catholic churches of the city and province of Buenos Aires
Francisco Corti
Neo-Gothic style in Argentina: Shaping British national identity in exile
Jorge Fernando Buján
Gothic revival in Mexico: French theory, English practices and the Stonemason’s craft
Lucia Santa Ana Lozada
[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]

PROGRAM Available! BABEL 2015 Toronto (9-11 October)




*all images from Sean Kernan, Secret Books

~ Off the Books: Making, Breaking, Binding, Burning, Leaving, Gathering  ~

[conference’s vision statement HERE]

9-11 October 2015

University of Toronto

Featured Speakers

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Nothing Has Yet Been Said: On the Non-Existence of Academic Freedom and the Necessity of Inoperative Communities

by EILEEN JOYthe_royal_tenenbaums_641

As promised, here now is the more full text of the paper I delivered at Harvard this past Monday, and THANK YOU to Richard Cole and the other graduate students at Harvard for giving me this opportunity to pause in what has become a horrifically taxing and stressful work schedule in order so spend some time reflecting on the always-evolving mission of the BABEL Working Group  —

Nothing Has Yet Been Said: On the Non-Existence of Academic Freedom and the Necessity of Inoperative Community

But if this world, even though it has changed … , proposes no new figure of community, perhaps this in itself teaches us something. We stand perhaps to learn from this that it can no longer be a matter of figuring or modeling a communitarian essence in order to present it to ourselves and to celebrate it, but that it is a matter rather of thinking community, that is, of thinking its insistent and possibly still unheard demand, beyond communitarian models or remodelings. … Nothing has yet been said: we must expose ourselves to what has gone unheard in community.

~Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community

Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic. Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable. It is the connection of desire to reality … that possesses revolutionary force.

~Michel Foucault, Preface to Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus

I want to begin by saying something about the image from Wes Anderson’s 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums that adorns the poster for this talk. Why this image? Partly because, on one level, all of Anderson’s films seem to be about misfit families—with ‘family’ here denoting actual, more traditional ‘kinship’ families, but also circles of friends and accomplices, whose dysfunction is rendered with a certain tender sweetness, and whose commitment to each other, with occasional failures of loyalty, remains steadfast. Characters in Anderson’s films typically do not get what they want or deserve, but the one thing they never relinquish is their affection for each other, even when that affection might be fucked up, or laced with sadness. They pursue ridiculous adventures that typically fail (such as Steve Zissou in The Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou chasing after a mythical “jaguar shark” in order to kill it as revenge for the death of a friend, or the three brothers in The Darjeeling Limited looking for their estranged mother in India who abandons them not once but twice, or the two misunderstood children in Moonrise Kingdom running away together), but these ill-advised adventures are conducive nevertheless to the development of aesthetic practices for more artful styles of living, which also explains why some critics hate Anderson’s films for their archly aesthetic (and thus supposedly non-realist) staging. Nevertheless, many of Anderson’s characters are fiercely determined to chart different (often foolish) courses, and to do so stylishly. And for me, style is neither incidental, nor merely an ornament, to the content of one’s life. As Anna Kłosowska has memorably put it, “style, neither fact nor theory but facilitating the transition between the two … is the generative principle itself.”[1] Or as Aranye Fradenburg has also put it, “Aesthetic form is a spellbinding (or not) attempt to transmit and circulate affect, without which not much happens at all.”[2] Let us not underestimate style, then, especially for what it contributes to natality, to “something else” emerging. Read more

Let Us Now Stand Up for Bastards: The Importance of Illegitimate Publics

by EILEEN JOYship_on_stormy_sea_by_puterinoor-d47rlxd

I recently had the great pleasure and honor of participating in the recent symposium, “Disrupting DH,” convened under the auspices of GWU’s Digital Humanities Institute, managed by Jonathan Hsy, M.W. Bychowski and Shyama Rajendran, and blogged about already, quite eloquently, by Jonathan Hsy, Angela Bennett Segler, M.W. Bychowski, and Alan Montroso (the symposium’s live-tweeting has also been Storify-ed HERE and it is importantly connected to the larger “Disrupting DH” project, which was inaugurated at the 2015 MLA Convention in Vancouver and will eventually be published in a variety of platforms, by punctum books).

The symposium was significant, in my mind, for bringing together 6 speakers (Angela Bennett Segler, Dorothy Kim, Jesse Stommel, Roopika Risam, myself, and Suey Park) who are not just DH theorists, but also DH makers and/or activists. I would never privilege DH making, by the way, as the ONLY way the humanities will somehow move forward (and thrive) — I believe instead in cultivating what I call a “biodiversity” of practices and modes of thought within and outside of the Academy: just as with various biospeheres, a diversity of communities of living organisms, and the (productive and mutually-sustaining) connections between those communities, promises an ecological well-being that certain measures of supposed “economic” austerity and competition for resources NEVER WILL provide. Nevertheless, it was refreshing and invigorating to be part of a symposium in which various notable practitioners of the so-called “Digital Humanities” were asked to collectively re-think what “disruption” means, or might mean [historically, theoretically, practically], at a point in time when DH is often spoken of as a sort of monolith in ways that distress early adopters such as Kim and Stommel, who have written in their prospectus for the “Disrupting DH” project —

Many scholars originally were drawn to the Digital Humanities because we felt like outcasts, because we had been marginalized within the academic community. We gathered together because our work collectively disrupted the hegemony and insularity of the “traditional” humanities. Our work was collaborative, took risks, flattened hierarchies, shared resources, and created new and risky paradigms for humanities work. As attentions have turned increasingly toward the Digital Humanities, many of us have found ourselves more and more disillusioned. Much of that risk-taking, collaborative, community-supported, and open-to-all-communities practice has started to be elided for a Digital Humanities creation-and-inclusion narrative that has made a turn towards traditional scholarship with a digital hand, an interest in only government or institutionally-funded database projects and tools, and a turn away from critical analysis of its own embedded practices in relation to issues around multilingualism, race, gender, disability, and global praxis.

So, again, I was honored to be part of this group of scholars and, decidedly, activists, who committed themselves, if even for one Friday at the end of a chilly and windy January, to re-thinking and challenging what we [whoever “we” might be] think we mean when we say, “Digital Humanities.” Read more

ANNOUNCING: Medieval Hackers from punctum


 Kathleen E. Kennedy

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books 2015. 180 pages, illus. ISBN-13: 978-0692352465. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $19.00 [€15.00/£12.00] in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

Published: 2015-01-06

Download book

… the word [“hacker”] itself is quite old. In fact, the earliest record of the noun “hacker” is medieval: a type of chopping implement was known as a “hacker” from the 1480s. Evidently, over time the term moved from the implement to the person wielding the implement. Today the grammatical slippage remains, as “the hacker hacked the hack” is grammatically sound, if stylistically unfortunate. Notably, even in its earliest uses, “hacker” and “hacking” referred to necessary disruption. Arboriculture required careful pruning (with a hacker) to remove unwanted branches and cultivation necessitated the regular breaking up of soil and weeds in between rows of a crop (with a hacker). Such practices broke limbs and turf in order to create beneficial new growth. Such physical hacking resembles the actions of computer hackers who claim to identify security exploits (breaking into software) in order to improve computer security, not to weaken it.

~Kathleen E. Kenndy, Medieval Hackers

Medieval Hackers calls attention to the use of certain vocabulary terms in the Middle Ages and today: commonness, openness, and freedom. Today we associate this language with computer hackers, some of whom believe that information, from literature to the code that makes up computer programs, should be much more accessible to the general public than it is. In the medieval past these same terms were used by translators of censored texts, including the bible. Only at times in history when texts of enormous cultural importance were kept out of circulation, including our own time, does this vocabulary emerge. Using sources from Anonymous’s Fawkes mask to William Tyndale’s bible prefaces, Medieval Hackersdemonstrates why we should watch for this language when it turns up in our media today. This is important work in media archaeology, for as Kennedy writes in this book, the “effluorescence of intellectual piracy” in our current moment of political and technological revolutions “cannot help but draw us to look back and see that the enforcement of intellectual property in the face of traditional information culture has occurred before. … We have seen that despite the radically different stakes involved, in the late Middle Ages, law texts traced the same trajectory as religious texts. In the end, perhaps religious texts serve as cultural bellwethers for the health of the information commons in all areas. As unlikely as it might seem, we might consider seriously the import of an animatronic [John] Wyclif, gesturing us to follow him on a (potentially doomed) quest to preserve the information commons.” Read more

Recent Articles


postmedieval 6.2: Contemporary Poetics and the Medieval Muse

Special Issue Edited by David Hadbawnik and Sean Reynolds6.2 cover


All times Contemporaneous
Sean Reynolds and David Hadbawnik


The task of the dystranslator: an introduction to a dystranslation of the works of the ‘Pearl’ poet
Chris Piuma
More Gravy than the Grave: classical Arabic lexical monographs in translation
David Larsen
Remediated verse: Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee and Patience Agbabi’s ‘Unfinished Business’
Candace Barrington and Jonathan Hsy
Caroline Bergvall her ‘Shorter Chaucer Tales’
Richard Owens
Imparadising, transhumanizing, intrining: Dante’s celestial vision
Peter O’Leary
Cædmon and the gift of song in Black Mountain poetry
Peter Buchanan
Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer, and Arthur Brodeur: avant-garde poetics, the pedagogy of Old English at mid-century, and a counterfactual critical history, or, the importance of a broadly conceived English studies department
Daniel C. Remein
The thunder after the lightning: language and Pasolini’s medievalist poetics
Louise D’Arcens
Tender and changing
Alice Ladrick
The owl of the system: Alice Notley’s queer poetics in The Descent of Alette
Christopher Roman


Poetry on the edge: modern medievalism’s marginal verses
S. J. Pearce
[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]

CFP: BABEL Toronto (9-11 Oct 2015)

4th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

~ Off the Books: Making, Breaking, Binding, Burning, Leaving, Gathering  ~


9-11 October 2015

University of Toronto, Canada

Call for Papers / Presentations / Provocations / Performances / Palavers

For those interested in submitting an individual proposal or statement of interest for any of the sessions below (which are divided into: A. Ir/regular Sessions and B. Un/sessions), please send your query and/or short proposal (of no more than 300-500 words) directly to that session’s organizer(s) at the email addresses designated below NO LATER THAN JUNE 15, 2015. Some sessions may be full already, and are designated as such by being highlighted in ORANGE, in which case, please send the organizer a query first. We will not be able to consider random, individual proposals; all proposals must be designed to meet the theme(s) and frameworks set by session organizers. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Eileen Joy and Liza Blake here:

Description of conference’s overall themes HERE.


*all images from Sean Kernan, Secret Books
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What to do at Kzoo (2015)

#Kzoo2015: some suggested sessions

 by J J CohenThis week begins the annual pilgrimage of medievalists and their friends to Kalamazoo, Michigan for the FIFTIETH International Congress on Medieval Studies. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there … and on behalf of the BABEL Steering Committee want to bring to your attention two events you are most welcome to attend: the BABEL Party Friday at Bells and the BABEL/Material Collective Bar&Business Meeting Thursday (see below).Here are also some suggestions for sessions to attend. The list is to be read alongside the Material Collective’s collation of awesomeness (50 Kalamazoos). Please add your own suggestions to the comments!

THURSDAY 10 AM Fetzer 1005
Carolyn Dinshaw’s Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics, 1990–2015 
Sponsor: BABEL Working Group
Presider: Bruce Holsinger
Hermeneutics as Autobiography Steven F. Kruger, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY
Glosynge Is a Glorious Thynge Emma Maggie Solberg, Bowdoin College
The Tex(t)ual Body Myra Seaman, College of Charleston
Materna Lingua Nicholas Watson, Harvard Univ.
Chaucer’s Deadly Text Lynn Shutters, Colorado State Univ.
Documents and Doctrine: A Case for Chaucer’s Discerning Women Elizabeth Robertson, Univ. of Glasgow
Response: Carolyn Dinshaw, New York Univ

THURSDAY 3:30 PM Sangren 1710
Critical Imperative: The Future of Feminism 
Sponsor: Exemplaria: Medieval / Early Modern / Theory
Organizer: Patricia Clare Ingham, Indiana Univ.–Bloomington
Presider: Tison Pugh, Univ. of Central Florida
Feminism beyond Skepticism Ruth Evans, St. Louis Univ.
New Materialism and the Future of Feminism: The Case of Le Menagier de Paris Glenn Burger, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY
Not Your Mother’s Historical Continuity: Feminism, Historicism, and the Case of Christine de Pizan Lynn Shutters, Colorado State Univ.

THURSDAY 5:15 p.m. Fetzer 1035
BABEL Working Group and the Material Collective 
Reception with open bar
Please bring your ideas for next year’s BABEL + postmedieval sessions!

Read more »


postmedieval 6.1: Making Race Matter in the Middle Ages

Special Issue Edited by Cord Whitaker


Race-ing the dragon: the Middle Ages, race and trippin’ into the future

Cord Whitaker


Race, sex, slavery: reading Fanon with Aucassin et Nicolette
Robert S. Sturges
On firm Carthaginian ground: ethnic boundary fluidity and Chaucer’s Dido
Randy P. Schiff
Are the ‘monstrous races’ races?
Asa Simon Mittman
Making whiteness matter: The King of Tars
Jamie Friedman
From the Knight’s Tale to The Two Noble Kinsmen: Rethinking race, class and whiteness in romance
Dennis Austin Britton
‘The last syllable of modernity’: Chaucer in the Caribbean
Michelle R. Warren
Race as sedimented history
Sara Ahmed


Race, travel, time, heritage
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Karl Steel

[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]


CALL FOR SESSIONS: 4th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

 ~ Off the Books: Making, Breaking, Binding, Burning, Leaving, Gathering ~

Kernan_Books_024th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group

9-11 October 2015

University of Toronto, Canada

CALL FOR SESSIONS* (see official conference site here)

*Send session proposals of approx. 350-500 words (which can be completely open to potential participants and/or already include some or all committed participants), to include full contact information for organizer(s) and any committed participants, NO LATER THAN February 1, 2015, to:

For its 4th Biennial Meeting, to be held at the University of Toronto from October 9-11, 2015, BABEL proposes to take flight both along and off the fractal edges of the book. As an institutional and intellectual locus, the book has long occupied a privileged place as an ultimate substrate and platform for the inscription and dissemination of sustained thought and argument, of the images and ideas signified in language, and of the cultural-historical “goods” of various groups, societies and polities over time. Moreover, both the printed book and manuscript hold a prominent place in the foundation of humanistic study (think of how Homer’s corpus survives in the present thanks to its translation from papyrus to medieval manuscript “edition,” or of the British Museum Library, founded in 1753, whose three founding collections—donated by “mad hoarder” library- and cabinet-builders Robert Cotton, Hans Sloane, and Robert Harley—have been instrumental in the establishment of the study of English literature in the UK and North America, and beyond). The book is not only an object, form, and genre, but also a demand, a requirement, and a form of labor. It is the supposed monument to tenure-worthy academic production (the monograph), as well as the chief marker of communal academic and para-academic labors (edited collections, art books, climate change manga), and also a space of outright resistance to the status quo in academic publishing and beyond. The book is also a symbol and reification of authority, canonicity, and official terms, accounts, ledgers, and judgments. It is a location of nostalgia, an affective touchstone for a past that maybe never was, that also always remains entangled with the present of each book’s production. The book is also the chief exemplum of the print epoch in the long history of media forms: the blank white page that waits passively to be imprinted—impressed with/by—the works of human subjectivity and intellectual-cultural production (but is this also a mirage?). The book, further, signifies a certain slow process of cultural production, one that is often valued so highly precisely because it is perceived as difficult, painstaking, voluminous, weighty, and “serious”—the worthy achievement of a certain Olympiad-style intellectual athleticism. Read more »

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