KZOO 2013 Session Proposals (DRAFTS)

Session Proposals for 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies

May 9-12, 2013

Sponsor: Monsters: The Experimental Association for the research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application (MEARCSTAPA)



We wish to propose three related sessions on the subject of the monstrous in the Middle Ages.  This is a theme receiving increasing attention in scholarship, including papers and sessions at conferences, university courses, and publications.  MEARCSTAPA has sponsored successful and well attended sessions at the ICMS every year, and interest continues to rise.  The three sessions we propose for 2013 are as follows:

MONSTERS I:  Haunting the Middle Ages
Organizer: Asa Simon Mittman, California State University-Chico; Sarah Alison Miller, Duquesne University

This panel proposes to explore those monstrous figures that haunt the borders between the living and the dead: ghosts, revenants, animated corpses and skeletons. What do these figures reveal about the porous boundaries between life and death, soul and body? What do they communicate about the relationship between haunting, trauma and memory? How is haunting associated with space, whether that space be a geographical location, a physical structure, a fantasized realm, or human consciousness? How were these figures depicted in art and material culture? How might monster studies be considered a haunted domain?  How might the Middle Ages be considered a haunted age?





MONSTERS II: Down to the skin: Images of Flaying in the Middle Ages
Organizers: Larissa Tracy, Longwood University and Asa Simon Mittman, California State University-Chico

Presider: Larissa Tracy

From images of Saint Bartholomew holding his skin in his arms, to scenes of grisly execution in Havelok the Dane, to laws that prescribed it as a punishment for treason, this session explores the gruesome practice of skin removal—flaying—in the Middle Ages. This session proposes to examine the widely diverse examples of this grisly practice, and explore the layered responses to skin-removal in art, history, literature, manuscript studies and law. How common was this punishment in practice? How does art reflect spiritual response? How is flaying, in any form, used to further political or religious goals? The papers in this session will literally get beneath the skin of medieval sensibilities regarding punishment and sacrifice in a nuanced discussion of medieval flaying.






MONSTERS III:  Monstrous Metamorphoses and Teratological Transformations
Monsters are boarder-walkers and boundary-crossers, highlighting the normal and normative through their transgressions.  This aspect of the monstrous is brought to the fore when monsters actually transform.  In medieval images and narratives, some creatures, like werewolves, begin as human and degrade, deform, distort and devolve into monsters; others, like the “Saracens” of conversion narratives, become more “normal” humans.  For this session, we seek papers on the metamorphoses of monsters as they challenge our ideas of form, culture, religion, nationality, etc.  Papers may deal with—but are by no means bound by—the following areas of inquiry:
  • shape-shifters (lycanthropes, witches, or Bors’s demonic temptresses)
  • creatures that grow or shrink dramatically (the Welsh Cai, Cornish spriggans, or the Irish Cú Chulainn)
  • monsters that change color (the Saracen King of Tars), age (the “loathly lady”), or sex (Tiresias and Loki)
  • once-human creatures whose transformations test our sense of boundaries and our understanding of the nature of nature (Fafnir, Daphne, or even Christ)
  • long-term transformations in the depictions of specific monstrous creatures (Nimrod, the Fomoire, or Cain)
  • monsters who transform between the text and accompanying images (the donestre in Cotton Vitellius A.xv)
  • the difficulties inherent in depicting a metamorphosis in manuscript illustrations

1 thought on “KZOO 2013 Session Proposals (DRAFTS)

  1. DRAFT II:Session Proposals for 48th International Congress on Medieval StudiesMay 9-12, 2013Sponsor: Monsters: The Experimental Association for the research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application (MEARCSTAPA)We wish to propose three related sessions on the subject of the monstrous in the Middle Ages. This is a theme receiving increasing attention in scholarship, including papers and sessions at conferences, university courses, and publications. MEARCSTAPA has sponsored successful and well attended sessions at the ICMS every year, and interest continues to rise. The three sessions we propose for 2013 are as follows:MONSTERS I: Haunting the Middle AgesOrganizer: Asa Simon Mittman, California State University-Chico; Sarah Alison Miller, Duquesne UniversityThis panel proposes to explore those monstrous figures that haunt the borders between the living and the dead: ghosts, revenants, animated corpses and skeletons. What do these figures reveal about the porous boundaries between life and death, soul and body? What do they communicate about the relationship between haunting, trauma and memory? How is haunting associated with space, whether that space be a geographical location, a physical structure, a fantasized realm, or human consciousness? How were these figures depicted in art and material culture? How might monster studies be considered a haunted domain? How might the Middle Ages be considered a haunted age?MONSTERS II: Down to the skin: Images of Flaying in the Middle AgesOrganizers: Larissa Tracy, Longwood University and Asa Simon Mittman, California State University-ChicoPresider: Larissa TracyFrom images of Saint Bartholomew holding his skin in his arms, to scenes of demons flaying the damned within the mouth of hell, to grisly execution in Havelok the Dane, to laws that prescribed it as a punishment for treason, this session explores the gruesome, even monstrous, practice of skin removal—flaying—in the Middle Ages. This session proposes to examine the widely diverse examples of this grisly practice, and explore the layered responses to skin-removal in art, history, literature, manuscript studies and law. How common was this punishment in practice? How does art reflect spiritual response? How is flaying, in any form, used to further political or religious goals? The papers in this session will literally get beneath the skin of medieval sensibilities regarding punishment and sacrifice in a nuanced discussion of medieval flaying.MONSTERS III: Monstrous Metamorphoses and Teratological Transformations Monsters are border-walkers and boundary-crossers, highlighting the normal and normative through their transgressions. This aspect of the monstrous is brought to the fore when monsters actually transform. In medieval images and narratives, some creatures, like werewolves, begin as human and degrade, deform, distort and devolve into monsters; others, like the “Saracens” of conversion narratives, become more “normal” humans. For this session, we seek papers on the metamorphoses of monsters as they challenge our ideas of form, culture, religion, nationality, etc. Papers may deal with—but are by no means bound by—the following areas of inquiry:–shape-shifters (lycanthropes, witches, or Bors’s demonic temptresses)–creatures that grow or shrink dramatically (the Welsh Cai, Cornish spriggans, or the Irish Cú Chulainn)–monsters that change color (the Saracen King of Tars), age (the “loathly lady”), or sex (Tiresias and Loki)–once-human creatures whose transformations test our sense of boundaries and our understanding of the nature of nature (Fafnir, Daphne, or even Christ)–long-term transformations in the depictions of specific monstrous creatures (Nimrod, the Fomoire, or Cain)monsters who transform between the text and accompanying images (the donestre in Cotton Vitellius A.xv)–the difficulties inherent in depicting a metamorphosis in manuscript illustrations

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