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Program of BABEL Santa Barbara (16-18 October) available!

2014 Program


[full program available below, but please head here for the complete BABEL Meeting website]


[all images from Joni Sternbach, Surfland]

~ On the Beach: Precariousness, Risk, Forms of Life, Affinity, and Play at the Edge of the World  ~

[full description of conference HERE]

16-18 October 2014

University of California, Santa Barbara

Co-Sponsors: BABEL Working Group; College of Creative Studies, UCSB; College of Letters and Science, UCSB; Comparative Literature Program, UCSB; Department of Art, UCSB; Department of English, UCSB; Department of French & Italian, UCSB; Department of History, UCSB; Department of Spanish & Portugese, UCSB; Early Modern Center, UCSB; Film & Media Studies, UCSB; Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies, UCSB; Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, UCSB; Literature & Environment Center, UCSB; Literature & Mind Center, UCSB; Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, The George Washington University; Medieval Literatures Center, UCSB; Medieval Studies, UCSB; Mellon Sawyer Seminar, UCSB; punctum booksPalgrave Macmillan; and Transcriptions Center, UCSB.

REGISTER HERE [regular faculty] and HERE [students and non-regular faculty] by SEPTEMBER 15.

Go HERE for post-September 15 LATE registration.

*If you are UCSB faculty or student, there is no charge for attending the conference; if you want to pre-register and have a name-badge and conference program set aside for you, please send an email to Eileen Joy: [email protected] Read more »


postmedieval 5.2: Comic Medievalisms

Special Issue Edited by Louise D’Arcens10295333_696208457083372_508382200230097689_o


Medievalist laughter
Louise D’Arcens


Said in jest: Who’s laughing at the Middle Ages (and when)?
David Matthews

You had to be there: Anachronism and the limits of laughing at the Middle Ages
Louise D’Arcens

Medieval comic relief: Cannibal cow, duck’s neck and carry on Joan of Arc
Stephen Knight

‘Simply to amuse the reader’: The humor of Walter Scott’s Reformation
Andrew Lynch

One does not simply laugh in Middle Earth: Sacrificing humor in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings
Brantley L Bryant

Valhallolz: Medievalist humor on the Internet
Kim Wilkins


Ella’s bloody eagle: Sharon Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Saxon history
Donna Beth Ellard

Towards the Middle Ages to come: The temporalities of walking with W. Morris, H. Adams and especially H.D. Thoreau
Benjamin A Saltzman


Comedy in translation: Politics and poetics
Nicole Sidhu

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

Kalamazoo 2015 CALL FOR PAPERS: Quantum Medievalisms // Dinshaw’s “Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics, 1990-2015″

I want to share with everyone here the more detailed Call for Papers for BABEL’s and postmedieval’s sessions for the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies to be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan from May 14-17, 2015. Although the official, printed CFP lists me as the primary contact person [[email protected]], please send your proposal and Participant Information Form by September 15th to the persons listed below who actually dreamed up these sessions [and if any proposals reach me, I will, don’t worry, forward them on]:1. Quantum Medievalisms [roundtable] // Sponsor: postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies // Organizer: Angela Bennett Segler, New York Universityproposals to: [email protected]

*it should be noted that this session is part of a cluster of sessions spread out across many sponsoring organizations on Medieval Materialisms [see and join, if interested, the Group page for that on Facebook HERE]

This panel uses a direct parallel with Quantum Physics to prompt interrogations of basic structures of figuring matter and temporality within scholarship of the Middle Ages. As the name suggests, the idea has a dual legacy. In classical Latin, “quantum” is the accusative form of the adjective “quantus,” usually paired with “tantus” to indicate questions of what size, how much, or magnitude of greatness. In its adverbial counterpart, “quantum” designated a comparison of quantity: “as far as,” “as much as,” “as great as.” Even from the Patristic writers, though, we find that “quantum” has become a noun that is no longer a comparison or a description of quantities, but a stand-in for quantity itself. In contemporary culture, the word “quantum,” carries with it the connotations of modern physics that, beginning with Einstein and Planck, define basic units of light and energy (respectively) as “quanta.” Quantum physics deals primarily with the level of the atomic and subatomic nature of all matter, at which levels the classical distinctions between matter and energy, wave and particle collapse completely. All things—light, energy and matter — are simultaneously waves and particles, and due to Bohr’s principle of complementarity it is the observer who intervenes via her scientific apparatus and determines what she is observing. One of the ramifications of Bohr’s interpretation is the idea of quantum entanglement. Quantum entanglement means that all elements of a system are simultaneously affected as the system is affected. As those elements disperse — an inevitability according to the laws of thermodynamics — the system itself does not disassemble but becomes diffuse. Action upon the system will still simultaneously affect every iota of the system, even if those elements are light years apart. Read more »


ANNOUNCING: Burn After Reading from punctum books

Burn After ReadingBAR_Cover_Front_WEB

Vol. 1 // Miniature Manifestos for a Post/medieval Studies

edited by Eileen A. Joy and Myra Seaman

Vol. 2 // The Future We Want: A Collaboration

edited by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books / Washington, DC: Oliphaunt Books, 2014. 226 pages, illus. ISBN-13: 978-0692204412. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $15.00 [€12.00/£11.00] in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

Published: 2014-04-28

Download book

. . . better to take the risk and engage in fidelity to a Truth-event, even if it ends in catastrophe, than to vegetate in the eventless utilitarian-hedonist survival of what Nietzsche called the ‘last men.’

~ Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times 

The essays, manifestos, rants, screeds, pleas, soliloquies, telegrams, broadsides, eulogies, songs, harangues, confessions, laments, and acts of poetic terrorism in these two volumes — which collectively form an academic “rave” — were culled, with some later additions, from roundtable sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in 2012 and 2013, organized bypostmedieval: a journal for medieval cultural studies and the BABEL Working Group (“Burn After Reading: Miniature Manifestos for a Post/medieval Studies,” “Fuck This: On Letting Go,” and “Fuck Me: On Never Letting Go”) and George Washington University’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (“The Future We Want: A Collaboration”), respectively. Gathering together a rowdy multiplicity of voices from within medieval and early modern studies, these two volumes seek to extend and intensify a conversation about how to shape premodern studies, and also the humanities, in the years ahead. Authors in both volumes, in various ways, lay claim to the act(s) of manifesting, and also anti-manifesting, as a collective endeavor that works on behalf of the future without laying any belligerent claims upon it, where we might craft new spaces for the University-at-large, which is also a University that wanders, that is never just somewhere, dwelling in the partitive — of a particular place — but rather, seeks to be everywhere, always on the move, pandemic, uncontainable, and always to-come, while also being present/between us (manifest). This is not a book, but a blueprint. It is also an ephemeral gathering in the present tense.



DONATE! to BABEL’s Spring 2014 Fundraising Campaign

babelfund[Click here to donate now! ]



You might think, and some days it’s true, that the BABEL Working Group runs on Manhattan cocktails, WD-40, ramen, loose change, the kindness of strangers, old Talking Heads albums, matches, a glitter ball, chewing gum, and a few guitars. Indeed, without institutional or foundational funding, but with a lot of elbow grease in the wee hours of the night, the BABEL Working Group has, since 2004, worked very hard to: 1) develop new co-disciplinary, nomadic, and convivial confraternities between the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and the fine arts (both within and beyond the academy), 2) to build shelters for humanist and post/humanist vagabonds, 3) to foster a politics of friendship both within and beyond the University, and 4) to create new spaces for para-academic alliances (such as our biennial conference, our symposia series, but also our press punctum books and or new sound label punctum records).But the fact of the matter is, we cannot keep doing everything we have been doing, not to mention continue to build even more new spaces and events and projects and platforms, without some sort of regular fund-raising campaign, which we’ve decided to undertake beginning this year, in both spring and fall of each year. It’s important to us that we never charge membership dues [although many people have urged us to do just that], because as idealistic and foolish as it might sound, I’ve always envisioned BABEL as an attempt to put theory into practice — more specifically, to see if it’s possible to build and sustain something like Deleuze and Guattari’s “desiring-assemblage,” which of its very nature must have propensities, trajectories, flows [and also breaks in the flows], attachments, detachments, reattachments, agglomerations, itineraries, ETC. that cannot be predicted in advance nor managed bureaucratically nor controlled. As such, all manner of persons must be invited to jump on, and also jump off, with no impediments to their movements in and out of the spaces we are creating to foster new modes and experimental forms of creative intellectual work. We don’t want officers. We don’t want Robert’s Rules. We don’t want dues. Consider, also, that without any of that — and again, without any institutional support [although some, like GW-MEMSI have generously helped fund our biennial meeting and social events] — we’ve managed to do the following: Read more »


postmedieval 4.4: Premodern Flesh

Edited by Holly Crocker and Kathryn Schwarz FLESH_Cover


In the Flesh (Holly Crocker [University of South Carolina])


Melting Flesh, Living Words (Jay Zysk [University of South Florida])

The Temporal Excesses of Dead Flesh (Cynthia Turner Camp [University of Georgia])

Carnival in The Merchant of Venice (Jonathan Goldberg [Emory University])

The Curious Pleasures of the Heroic Corpse (Kathryn Schwarz [Vanderbilt University])

Scattered Remains and Paper Bodies: Margaret Cavendish and the Siege of Colchester (Frances E. Dolan [University of California, Davis])

Fleshing out the text: The Transcendent Manuscript in the Digital Age (Elaine Treharne [Stanford University])

Spirited Flesh: The Animation and Hybridization of Flesh in the Early Modern Imaginary (Emily L. King [Vanderbilt University])

Hi Mho Jhi Kudd: Thomas Stephens’s Translated Flesh, or, Coconuts in Goa (Jonathan Gil Harris [Ashoka University])

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

Crowd Review 3: The Holocaust and the Middle Ages

crowdMyra Seaman, Holly Crocker and Eileen Joy are thrilled to announce that postmedieval is launching today our THIRD online, open Crowd Review, of Nina Caputo’s and Hannah Johnson’s special issue on “The Holocaust and the Middle Ages,” which features the following essays:

We are grateful [again] this Crowd Review is being hosted and stewarded by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and company at MediaCommons, based at New York University, which describes its mission this way:

MediaCommons is a community network for scholars, students, and practitioners in media studies, promoting exploration of new forms of publishing within the field. MediaCommons was founded with the support of the Institute for the Future of the Book, and with assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through this network, we hope to refocus scholarship in the field on the communication and discussion of new ideas in the field. . . . Our hope is that the interpenetration of these different forms of discourse will not simply shift the locus of publishing from print to screen, but will actually transform what it means to “publish,” allowing the author, the publisher, and the reader all to make the process of such discourse just as visible as its product. In so doing, new communities will be able to get involved in academic discourse, and new processes and products will emerge, leading to new forms of digital scholarship and pedagogy.

MediaCommons (and MediaCommons Press), which Fitzpatrick helped to found, have been extremely important in leading the edge of peer-to-peer (P2P) publishing networks and open review within the humanities — indeed, Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s influential book, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, was first drafted, reviewed, revised and published in MediaCommons Press’s open platform (it has since also been published in print by NYU Press), and open review of two issues ofShakespeare Quarterly (SQ), on “Shakespeare and Performance,” and also on  “Shakespeare and New Media,”have also been hosted by MediaCommons Press. The New York Times published a fairly good article on these experiments in open, online review in August of 2010, shortly before postmedieval launched its first online Crowd Review — of our special issue on “Becoming Media,” edited by Jen Boyle and Martin Foys, which you can see more about HERE — inspired, I might add, by SQ’s experiments in such and by the arguments of Fitzpatrick’s book, especially, for me, that we need, in the reviewing of academic work to shift from a gatekeeping and individualistic/heroic mode of “oversight” and agon to a more communal, helpful model. As Fitzpatrick writes in her book: Read more »

postmedieval 5.1: Comparative Neomedievalisms

Cluster Edited by Daniel Lukes


Comparative Neomedievalisms: A Little Bit Medieval (Daniel Lukes [Indiana University])


Don Quixote and the Remembrance of Things Medieval (Donald D. Palmer [College of Marin and North Carolina State University])

The New Knighthood: Terrorism and the Medieval (Daniel Wollenberg [Binghamton University, SUNY])

Neomedievalisms and the Modern Subject in T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral  (Krystya Michael [Graduate Center, CUNY])

Neomedievalist Feminist Dystopia (Daniel Lukes [Indiana University])


Boundless Restraint: Performance, Reparation, and the Daily Practice of Death in the Life of Daniel the Stylite (Jonah Westerman [Graduate Center, CUNY])

Confessions and the Creation of the Will: A Weird Tale (Matthew Bryan Gillis [University of Tennessee])


Heurodis Speaks (Robyn Cadwallader [Flinders University])


Towards a Premodern Affective Turn (Glenn Burger [Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY])


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

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2014 Biennial Michael Camille Essay Prize [postmedieval]

As was noted by Arnold Van Gennep, one of the first anthropologists of the edge, “the attributes of liminality are necessarily ambiguous since [they] elude or slip through the network of classifications that normally locate states and positions in cultural space.”

~from Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art

Eileen Joy, Myra Seaman, and Holly Crocker are thrilled to announce that it is time once again for the Biennial Michael Camille Essay prize, jointly sponsored by postmedieval, Palgrave Macmillan, and the BABEL Working Group.

Deadline: JULY 31, 2014.The competition is open to early career researchers: those currently in MA/PhD programs or within 5 years of having received the Ph.D. (that will include those graduating in 2009 or later). Although the contest is inspired by and dedicated to the memory of an art historian, essays in all disciplines are encouraged, and we are especially interested in work that, similar to Camille’s, is cross-disciplinary, theoretically-informed, and attentive to the ways in which the medieval inhabits the modern. The prize is for the best short essay (4,000-6,000 words) that speaks to the 2014 theme: MEDIEVALISM AND THE MARGINS (conceptualized and imagined in any way the author sees fit). The award for 2014 will include: publication in postmedieval, 250 dollars, and one year’s free print and online subscription to the journal.

The prize is named after Michael Camille (1958-2002), the brilliant art historian whose work on medieval art exemplified playfulness, a felicitous interdisciplinary reach, a restless imagination, and a passion to bring the medieval and modern into vibrant, dialogic encounter. In addition, we wish to honor Camille for his attention to the fringes of medieval society — to the liminal, the excluded, the ‘subjugated rabble,’ and the disenfranchised, and to the socially subversive powers of medieval artists who worked on and in the margins. The prize is also named after Camille because his work was often invested in exploring ‘the prism of modernity through which the Middle Ages is constructed’ and because, as his colleague at the University of Chicago Linda Seidel said shortly after his death, he had ‘a mind like shooting stars.’

Submissions will be judged by a panel of scholars selected from postmedieval’s Editorial Board, and the winner will be announced at the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, to be held October 16-18 at University of California, Santa Barbara. Please send submissions, to include a cover page with all contact information — name, affiliation(s), mailing address, email address(es), title of submission, and with no identifying information on essay itself (formatted in Word and following Chicago Manual, author-date format with endnotes + list of references at end) — to the editors at [email protected] If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Eileen Joy at [email protected]