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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 [], 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:

*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 »




3rd Biennial Meeting of

the BABEL Working Group



16-18 October 2014

University of California, Santa Barbara

Call for Sessions


Someone is living on this beach. ~David Markson, Wittgenstein’s Mistress

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. ~Herman Melville, Moby Dick

BABEL’s 3rd Biennial Meeting situates itself along the fractal shoreline of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, a town named after the patron saint of miners, artillerymen, explosives, and lightning. In the spirit of such rogue-ish and transitory confraternities of pirates, smugglers, saints, pyro-artists, rebels, and surfers, and following in the spectral footsteps of the after-party stragglers and wastrels of La Dolce Vitastumbling into the early morning light of a bleached-out Fellini-esque seascape, where they are caught by the gaze of a dead stingray snared in a fishing net, we will gather on the beach to explore together the question of what it means to be stranded and how the beach itself (writ large as Beach) might serve as a new Academy of Thought, where thinking would emerge from lively (if also messy and uneasy) collaborations between whales, surfers, clouds, waves, starfish, grains of sand, swimmers, lagoons, saints, coral, marshes, divers, dunes, skiffs, ports, sharks, etc. Our aim will not be to find a site of clear demarcation between water and earth, shore and sea, sand and sun, inside and outside, sky and cloud, human and nonhuman, past and future, University and Real World, work-time and play-time. Rather, we will seek to cohabit a turbulent site of entangled encounter, of weathering and advancing into the weather: a place of “formal inexhaustibility” where trans-corporeal bodies flow into and collide with each other, caught within and moving along eddies of emergence, erosion, and what Vicki Kirby calls “life at large” (“there is no outside of Nature”). At the same time, we will note that we are outside and we will ask what it means to be outside, exposed to the elements and the elemental, to think but also to feel a beachy Outside. Read more »


CFPs: BABEL & postmedieval @ Kalamazoo 2013

BABEL is sponsoring two roundtables–“Plunder” and “Blunder”–while postmedieval is sponsoring a roundtable, “Thriving.” Abstracts are due September 15 (see details for submission below), and descriptions follow:


Thriving: A Roundtable
Sponsor: postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 

Play values experimentation. When we play, we are more open to the new, from within and without. We become ‘‘neophiles’’ and innovators, making active use of our imaginations. Playing and pretending are crucial to the becomings of living creatures, to adaptation and behavioral flexibility; . . . Play teaches ‘‘vital skills’’; it is transformative and transforming. We can neither thrive nor survive without it. And it is highly contagious, a powerful medium of affect transmission.
~ Aranye Fradenburg, “Living Chaucer”

The work of Aranye Fradenburg, especially her psychoanalytic criticism of Chaucer, and her formulations of discontinuist historical approaches to the Middle Ages, has been extremely influential within medieval studies for the past 15 or so years. More recently she has been focusing on more broad defenses of the humanities, especially with regard to the valuable role of literary studies relative to the arts of everyday living,eudaimonia [flourishing], ethical community, and well-being, and also on psychoanalysis itself as a “liberal art.” Relationality, intersubjectivity, aliveness, resilience, care of the self and also of others, adaptive flexibility, playfulness, shared attention, companionship, healing, and thriving seem, increasingly, to be the key watchwords and concerns of Fradenburg’s work, and at the same time, the so-called “literary” mode is still central to these concerns, such that, as Fradenburg has written, “Interpretation and relationality depend on one another because all relationships are unending processes of interpretation and expression, listening and signifying. In turn, sentience assists relationality: we can’t thrive and probably can’t survive without minds open to possibility, capable of sensing and interpreting the tiniest shifts in, e.g., pitch and tone” [“Frontline: The Liberal Arts of Psychoanalysis,” Journal of theAmerican Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry 39.4 (2011): 589-609]. This roundtable invites short presentations on the valuable role(s) that medieval studies might play in the future of the liberal arts, especially as they pertain to “thriving” and “living” and to the ways in which living itself is an art. [Aranye Fradenburg will be a participant on this panel.] Read more »


Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects [from punctum books]

<You can download the book for FREE or purchase the print edition [for a mere $17.00] HERE.>

Edited by Jeffrey J. Cohen


Animal, Mineral, Vegetable examines what happens when we cease to assume that only humans exert agency. Through a careful examination of medieval, early modern and contemporary lifeworlds, these essays collectively argue against ecological anthropocentricity. Sheep, wolves, camels, flowers, cotton, chairs, magnets, landscapes, refuse and gems are more than mere objects. They act; they withdraw; they make demands; they connect within lively networks that might foster a new humanism, or that might proceed with indifference towards human affairs. Through what ethics do we respond to these activities and forces? To what futures do these creatures and objects invite us, especially when they appear within the texts and cultures of the “distant” past?

Contents: Jeffrey J. Cohen (George Washington University):“Introduction: All Things” – Karl Steel (Brooklyn College): “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky: The Postures of the Wolf Child of Hesse” – Sharon Kinoshita (University of California, Santa Cruz):“Animals and the Medieval Culture of Empire” – Kellie Robertson (University of Wisconsin-Madison):“Exemplary Rocks” – Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): “Mineral Virtue” – Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University): “Powers of the Hoard: Notes on Material Agency” – Carla Nappi (University of British Columbia): “You Don’t Mess With The Yohan: Cotton, Objects, and Becoming Vegetal in Early Modern China” – Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan): “The Human and the Floral” –Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville): “You Are Here: A Manifesto” – Julian Yates (University of Delaware): “Sheep Tracks” – Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine): “Of Chairs, Stools and Trestle Tables: Scenes from the Renaissance Res Publica of Things”

Response essays: Lowell Duckert, “A Slower (Non)humanities” – Jonathan Gil Harris, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Twenty Questions” – Nedda Mehdizadeh, “Ruinous Monument’: Transporting Objects in Herbert’s Persepolis” Read more »


West[Michigan]ward, Ho! 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies


The schedule for the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies [10-12 May 2012, Western Michigan University] is now published, and that means this is the time of year to start thinking about which chain-mail dress you want to pack, which medievalists you want to either hug or slap this coming May, and how you are going to sneak your way into Elizabeth Teviotdale’s bedroom, thereby ensuring better time slots at next year’s Kalamazoo — that is, if you’re a great lover and you’re her type [gosh, I really hope Liz Teviotdale has a good sense of humor; I think she does, actually].All kidding aside, I thought I would highlight here some sessions that In The Middle-ers, BABELpostmedieval, and GW-MEMSI will be involved in, and PLEASE feel free to tell us in the comments section which sessions you think we should take note of [and yes, isn’t it refreshing to use those dangling participles, now that we’re allowed to?]. I know there are a LOT more sessions I am not listing here that promise to be REALLY interesting, like Session 124 on “Thing Theory and Object-Oriented Studies in Medieval Contexts” and Session 437 on “Cosmopolitanism in the Middle Ages,” and I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Read more »

dead letter office: an imprint of BABEL and punctum books

Series Editor: Eileen Joy (


I am tired, Beloved,

of chafing my heart against

the want of you;

of squeezing it into little inkdrops,

And posting it.

~Amy Lowell, “The Letter”

Don’t fear anything for your letters, they are burnt

one by one and I hope you do the same with mine.

~Camille Claudel

Dead Letter Office publishes small chapbook-style works, of anywhere from 30 to 80 or so pages, representing work that either has gone “nowhere” or will likely go nowhere, yet retain little inkdrops of possibility and beauty and the darkling shape of a more full-bodied form and structure — to whit: the conference or seminar paper that will never become an article, the stray pages for a half-baked article that will never become the full-baked article, the half-finished chapter that will never make it into the book or the dissertation, the outlines and notes and semi-polished pages for manuscripts that are simply unfinish-able, the essay that can find no welcoming harbor (and that you half-suspect is ill-conceived but likely isn’t), the prospectus for the project you can never seem to find your way to start, the prolegomenon and preamble without follow-up, the stray children of your pen, the letter you wrote then tucked away in a drawer, fearing to mail it, or the one you sent and received again, with the stamp, “return to sender,” or which was never received nor returned, that you perhaps lost (then re-found). We seek, also, experiments in whimsy, in over-reaching, in idle speculation, in prospecting for fool’s gold, in working mountains into molehills, in marking and then forgetting a path in a wild wood of visible darkness. In short, the Dead Letter Office invites you to take those letters out of the drawer or shoebox, to re-visit and re-polish them, without worrying about conclusions or ultimate destinations, and send them to us. We will also consider actual letters to the dead: belated eulogies, posthumous transmissions to the underworld, love (and hate and other) missives to the departed, funerary telegrams, and various notes and commentaries to be used as devices to water the graveyards where, to cadge from Walter Benjamin, some of the dead are turning by a strange heliotropism toward the sun that is rising in the sky of history.

. . . it is a fine consolation among the absent that if

one who is loved is not present, a letter may be embraced instead.

~Isidore of Seville



Anthony Adler, The Afterlife of Genre: Remnants of the Trauerspiel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer(January 2014)

Lauren Berlant, Desire/Love (December 2012)

M.H. Bowker, Ostranenie: On Shame and Knowing (December 2012)

Joff Bradley, Philosophy and the Deadly Ritournelle (Winter 2013)

Andreas Burckhardt, A Sanctuary of Sounds (May 2013)

David R. Cole, Traffic Jams: Analysing Everday Life through the Immanent Materialism of Deleuze & Guattari 
(February 2013)

Denzil Ford, Suite on “Spiritus Silvestre: For Symphony (December 2012)

Benjamin Hollander, Memoir American (May 2013)

Trevor Jones, The Non-Library (Autumn 2013)

Phil Jourdan, John Gardner: A Tiny Eulogy (November 2012)

Maxwell Kennel, Dialectics Unbound: On the Possibility of Total Writing (Spring 2013)

Milcho Manchevski, Truth and Fiction: Notes on (Exceptional) Faith in Art (May 2012)

Adrian Martin, Last Day Every Day: Figural Thinking from Auerbach and Kracauer to Agamben and Brenez (October 2012)

Michael E. Moore, Nicholas of Cusa and the Kairos of Modernity: Cassirer, Gadamer, Blumenberg(September 2013)

Michael Munro, What Is Philosophy? (October 2012)

Michael MunroOf Learned Ignorance: Idea of a Treatise in Philosophy (June 2013)

Dominic Pettman, In Divisible Cities (August 2013)

David Rawson, Fuckhead (September 2013)

Gary J. Shipley, The Death of Conrad Unger: Some Conjectures Regarding Parasitosis and Associated Suicide Behavior (March 2012)

Whitney Anne Trettien, Gaffe/Stutter (Autumn 2013)


Speculative Medievalisms: A Laboratory-Atelier [Forthcoming from punctum books]

Edited by The Petropunk Collective (Eileen A. Joy, Anna KlosowskaNicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke)

Proceedings from the two Speculative Medievalisms symposia, held at King’s College London (Jan. 2011) and The Graduate Center, City University of New York (Sep. 2011), and organized by The Petropunk Collective (Eileen Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke). These interdisciplinary events were dedicated to dialogue and cross-contamination between traditional concepts of speculatio, present-minded medieval studies, and contemporary speculative realist and object-oriented philosophies. In its medieval formulation,speculatio signifies the essentially reflective and imaginative operations of the intellect. Here the world, books, and mind itself are all conceived as specula (mirrors) through which the hermeneutic gaze can gain access to what lies beyond it. “To know is to bend over a mirror where the world is reflected, to descry images reflected from sphere to sphere: the medieval man was always before a mirror, both when he looked around himself and when he surrendered to his own imagination” (Giorgio Agamben,Stanzas).  Correlatively, speculative realism, as the term suggests, is characterized by the self-contradictory intensity of a desire for thought that can think beyond itself – a desire that proceeds, like all philosophy, in a twisted and productive relation to the phantasm of the word. Aiming to rise above and tunnel below the thought-being or self-world correlation, speculative realism “depart[s] from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage[s] in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself” (The Speculative Turn). Speculative Medievalisms, like some weird friar-alchemist in an inexistent romance, plays the erotic go-between for these text-centered and text-eccentric intellectual domains by trying to transmute the space between past and present modes of speculation from shared blindness to love at first sight. Possibly succeeding, the volume brings together the work of a motley crew of philosophers and medievalists into prismatic relation. Read more »


Kalamazoo 2012: BABEL & postmedieval panels

47th International Congress on Medieval Studies,  Western Michigan University
10-13 May 2012     Kalamazoo, MI

I. BABEL Working Group panels:

1. Fuck This: On Finally Letting Go (Roundtable)

Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Myra Seaman (College of Charleston), Co-Organizers

Myra Seaman, Presider

This session is designed to open up a broad and collective discussion on the dark affects and erotics of the concept, situation, scene, gestures, trauma, dilemma, psycho-dynamics, historicity, aesthetics, physics, materialism, ecology, etc. of finally leaving, getting rid of, abandoning, refusing, and letting go of potentially toxic “love-objects,” with “love-objects” here denoting any possible object: ideological, methodological, disciplinary, textual, art historical, codicological, artifactual, historical, archival, literary, geographical, archaeological, etc.  More specifically, some of the remarks will be pitched toward disciplinary, methodlogical, and historical objects (e.g. “Fuck Philology” or “Fuck Deep Reading” or “Fuck the Middle Ages” or “Fuck Chaucer”), or they will be aimed at specific scenes within medieval texts that illustrate in certain striking and illustrative ways the concepts, gestures, acts, and scenes of “finally letting go” and how those textual moments might productively intersect with certain intellectual and professional concerns currently circulating in the larger discipline of medieval studies.

2. Fuck Me: On Never Letting Go (Roundtable)

Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Myra Seaman (College of Charleston), Co-Organizers

Eileen Joy, Presider Read more »


punctum books

punctum books is an open-access and print-on-demand independent publisher dedicated to radically creative modes of intellectual inquiry and writing across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage. We specialize in neo-traditional and non-conventional scholarly work that productively twists and/or ignores academic norms, with an emphasis on books that fall length-wise between the article and the monograph—id est, novellas, in one sense or another. This is a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds.

Forthcoming titles:


Dark Chaucer: An Assortment, ed. Eileen Joy and Nicola Masciandaro

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects, ed. Jeffrey J. Cohen

On an Ungrounded Earth, by Ben Woodard

Leper Creativity: A Cyclonopedia Symposium, ed. Ed Keller, Nicola Masciandaro, and Eugene Thacker

Queering Speculative Realism, by Michael O’Rourke

Wlite: i englisc boc be missenlicum þingum wrætlicum, Vol. 1, trans. Daniel Remein

Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf, ed. David Hadbawnik

thN Lng folk 2go, by The Confraternity of Neoflagellants

Find further information at the punctum books website and the punctum books blog.

Follow punctum_books on TwitterFollow punctum books on Twitter!


BABEL collection: Fragments Toward a History of a Vanishing Humanism

Fragments Toward a History of a Vanishing Humanism
Editors: Eileen A. Joy and Myra J. Seaman


What qualifies as a human, as a human subject, as human speech, as human desire?
—Judith Butler[1]

. . . as scholars and teachers we believe we are right to call what we do “humanistic” and what we teach “the humanities.” Are these still serviceable phrases, and if so in what way? How then may we view humanism as an activity in light of its past and probable future?
—Edward Said[2]

For a long while now, there has been a significant turn both to and beyond “the human” (or, the liberal humanist subject) in aesthetic, historical, philosophical, sociological, and more scientific studies—a turn, moreover, which is also often accompanied by a nod to post-histoire, or the “end of history.” This poses a great challenge to those concerned with the future of humanistic letters and education, especially when, as the philosopher of religion John Caputo has written, “one has lost one’s faith in grand récits,” and “being, presence, ouisa, the transcendental signified, History, Man—the list goes on—have all become dreams.” Read more »

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