CFP: Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques, at Rice University Oct. 25-27, 2013

Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques 

October 25-27, 2013 

Young Professional and Graduate Conference

Department of Religious Studies

Rice University 


The Rice Gnosticism, Mysticism, and Esotericism Work Group, in association with the Religious Studies Department of Rice University, invites proposals for the upcoming conference “Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques,” to be held at Rice University in Houston, Texas, on October 25 – 27, 2013. We request abstracts by May 17, 2013.

“Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques” aims to create conversations on the impact of monstrosity and examples of the grotesque in discourse related to religion and the sacred. The tendency to populate religious landscapes with non-human entities, literally demonize opponents, perceive monsters as existing in far-reaching geographical borders (e.g., “the East” in Medieval Europe), and decorate sacred sites with grotesques is a trait shared throughout innumerable traditions. Recently the term “monster studies” was coined to cover the recent works dedicated to monsters by such authors as John Block Friedman, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, and Asa Mittman, who have helped to provide a framework for the study of such phenomena, not only in religious studies but also in literature, art history, and history. Through this framework, monsters and grotesques have been revealed as important markers of marginality, social boundaries, liminality, identity, cultural borders, and the “Other.”

“Holy Monsters, Sacred Grotesques” seeks to inform conversations about the sacred with monstrous discourse. We desire to do so in an interdisciplinary fashion and to encourage scholars in fields outside of religious studies who deal with such materials to join in our conversation. As such, we seek papers not only from religious studies but other disciplines in the humanities (e.g., philosophy, history, gender studies, art history, literature) and social sciences (e.g., political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology), as well.

Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length and should represent an intersection of the sacred (loosely construed) with a theme or object of monstrosity.

Please send a 300-word abstract, along with your name, institution, and year of study (if a graduate student) by May 17, 2013 to:

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Michael Heyes at


Mearcstapa Annual Meeting and Monstrous Panels at Kalamazoo

Come one, come all!  Step right up and see the most remarkable monster (scholars) you have ever seen!  Only one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar!  Step right up!

This year, our annual MEARCSTAPA meeting will be held at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo.  Please let anyone you see there who would be interested know about it.  Everyone is welcome.  We will be discussing ideas for next year’s sessions at KZoo and Leeds, as well as any suggestions for other venues and projects.MEARCSTAPA Annual Meeting
Friday, May 10, 6:30-7:30
Bernhard Lounge (Main Floor)
Western Michigan UniversityNote:  we have no dues and anyone is welcome to join.

Bring or wear your sexy MEARCSTAPA swag:

If you have any questions, please let me know.

I hope to see many of you there!

With Monstrous Affection,
PS.  Be sure to attend our two sessions, as well:

Monsters I: Haunting the Middle Ages
Friday, 1:30, Session 282, Schneider 1360

Presider:  Thea Cervone, Univ. of Southern California

The Mysterious Case of the Ghost Who Was Not There
Amy Amendt-Raduege, Whatcom Community College
Kinship with Ghosts: The Reappearing Dead and Purgatory in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
Caitlin Saraphis, Univ. of North Carolina–Greensboro
Mere Dead Things: Transi Tombs, Lollards, and the Haunting of Sculpture
Marian Bleeke, Cleveland State Univ.
Monsters II: Down to the skin: Images of Flaying in the Middle Ages
Friday, 3:30,  Session 340, Schneider 1360
Presider:  Larissa Tracy
A Window for the Pain: Surface, Interiority, and Christ’s Flagellated Skin in Late Medieval Sculpture
Peter Dent, Univ. of Bristol

Getting under Your Skin: The Monstrous Subdermal
Derek Newman-Stille, Trent Univ.

The Flaying of Saint Bartholomew and the Rhetoric of the Flesh in the Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry
Sherry C. M. Lindquist, Western Illinois Univ.

English Cycle Passion Plays
Valerie Gramling, Univ. of Massachusetts–Amherst