Monday, November 6, 2017

M@P Meeting on Nov. 13th: Epistre Othea

Sarah Wilma Watson will lead our meeting next Monday, which will address Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea (Letter of Othea) and Stephen Scrope's Middle English translation of the Othea. We'll also be looking at the corresponding images in BL Harley MS 4431folios 95r-141v.

Sarah writes: Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea (Letter of Othea) is a mirror for princes/ chivalric manual/ guide to spiritual development written around 1399. It takes the form of a letter from Othea, the goddess of Prudence, to a young prince Hector of Troy. It has a three-part structure - a poetic 'texte' and a prose 'glose' and 'allegorie.' In some versions it is accompanied by an elaborate series of illustrations. It was translated into Middle English by Stephen Scrope in 1440. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Call for Papers: Vulnerability: 10th Annual Medievalists @ Penn Conference

Saturday, March 17th 2018, University of Pennsylvania
Keynote Speaker: Masha Raskolnikov, Cornell University

This conference explores the forms and contexts of vulnerability in the Middle Ages, defining vulnerability as a state of being that precedes but does not necessarily entail violence and as a condition that is temporalized, oriented toward a future that is potentially hazardous. What are the methods by which the Middle Ages constructed and maintained states of vulnerability? If we think of vulnerability as entailing threat, what are the methods by which people or things are constructed as threats? What did it mean for medieval people to be living under threat?

We invite 15-20 minute papers on this subject from any discipline, including History, Art History, Musicology, Literary Studies, Religious Studies, Critical Race Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The construction of race and alterity
  • Gendered vulnerability and issues of care or protection
  • Ecological threat and disaster
  • Class, resource scarcity, and economic precarity
  • (Dis)Ability and illness
  • Trials, court cases, and legal actions
  • War and political conflict
  • Heresy and threats posed by religious orthodoxy
  • Vulnerable and damaged material texts or objects
  • The positions of medievalists in modern society

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words as attachments to by January 15, 2018. Submissions should include your name, paper title, email, and institutional and departmental affiliation. Papers will be due March 10, 2018 for distribution to faculty respondents.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Welcome back to another year at Penn! Our next meeting will be on October 23 at 10:30 AM in 516 Williams Hall. We'll be discussing Kellie Robertson's Nature Speaks: Medieval Literature and Aristotelian Philosophy, published by Penn Press in 2017. All are welcome!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

CFP: Kalamazoo 2016 - Unhappy Families: Literary Inheritance in the Fifteenth Century

Call for Papers
A Roundtable Sponsored by Medievalists@Penn
at the 51st International Congress of Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 12-15, 2016

Unhappy Families: Literary Inheritance in the Fifteenth Century
Organizers: Daniel Davies ( and Sarah W. Townsend (

vae tibi terra cuius rex est puer et cuius principes mane comedunt (Ecc. 10:16)

For Huizinga, the fifteenth century was a filial disappointment.  The profound advances made in the mature High Middle Ages were but a distant memory and it was part of an epoch marked by ‘childish’ and immature beliefs. Whether or not we accept this characterization, the fifteenth century seems peculiarly marked by questions about childhood, youth, immaturity and filiation. The English poets that succeeded Chaucer, such as Thomas Hoccleve, John Lydgate and Stephen Scrope, expressed anxieties about their literary pedigree, comparing themselves to ‘father’ Chaucer and finding their own abilities lacking. This session invites papers which explore textual relationships through the lens of the unhappy family. How does filial awareness and resentment shape and motivate authorship? What modes of filiation do we find poets using? In what ways do English writers of the fifteenth century both avoid and emulate Chaucer? In an age when childhood became a political problem through the minority of Henry VI, how do poets craft and explore maturity?

In addition to exploring the relationship between fifteenth-century English writers and ‘father’ Chaucer, submissions to this session might examine the insular inheritance of continental French literature. While Sheila Delany famously excluded Christine de Pizan from a list of “mothers to think back through,” Thomas Hoccleve, Stephen Scrope and Anthony Woodville all translated Christine’s French texts into Middle English during the fifteenth century. Similarly, John Lydgate worked from French ‘parent’ texts, translating Guillaume de Deguileville’s pilgrimage trilogy and using a version of the French Roman de Th├Ębes to compose The Siege of Thebes. Are these translations a practice of simple adaptation of material already in heavy circulation among Francophone aristocratic lay readers or do these acts of cultural appropriation take on a new meaning at the end of the Hundred Years’ War? And might these French source texts allow fifteenth-century English poets to re-think their relationship to Chaucer and shape a new vision of English literary history?

Please send proposals with a one-page abstract and a Participant Information Form ( to Daniel Davies ( by September 15, 2015. Preliminary inquiries and expressions of interest are most welcome. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Abstract Deadline Extended for "The Medieval Archive Conference"

Abstract deadline now extended for 7th Annual M@P Conference: 'The Medieval Archive'! Abstracts due January 5 2015

PDF available for download here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Visions of Empire Conference Program

6th Annual Medievalists @ Penn Graduate Conference
Friday, February 28, 2014   8:30am – 5:30pm
Class of 1955 Conference Room
Van Pelt Library, Second Floor, 
University of Pennsylvania

8:30-9:00         Registration and breakfast

9:00-9:15         Welcoming Remarks; Jacqueline Burek, University of Pennsylvania

9:15-10:45     Foundations of Imperial Power

Chair: Samantha Pious, University of Pennsylvania
RespondentEmily Steiner, Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

Christina Virok, Villanova University
Constructing and Legitimizing National Identity: A Brief Comparison of 
Virgil’s Aeneid and Wace’s Roman de Rou

Nicholas A. Pelullo, Villanova University
Knights and the Res Publica: The Role of the Warrior in the Geopolitics of 

Jonathan Stavsky, University of Pennsylvania
"Susanna figuram Ecclesiae habet": Negotiating Spiritual and Temporal Power through 
Biblical Typology

10:45-11:00     Coffee Break

11:00-12:30     Eastern Alterity in European Imaginaries

Chair: Marie Turner, University of Pennsylvania
Respondent: Kevin Brownlee, Professor of Romance Languages, University of

Nicole Slipp, Queen's University
Marco? Polo! Finding Merchants' Value in the Devisement dou monde

Sierra Lomuto, University of Pennsylvania
Between the Great Khan and Prester John: Legacies of the Mongolian Empire
in Mandeville's Travels 

Sarah Townsend, University of Pennsylvania
Familiar Distance: Medievalism and Colonialism in Richard Francis Burton's 1885
Translation of The Thousand Nights and a Night

12:30-1:45       Lunch Break

1:45-2:15         Manuscript Exhibit, Lea Library

 2:15-3:45        Imperial Subjects and the Construction of Empire
Chair: Erika Smith, University of Pennsylvania
Respondent: Ann Matter, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Daniel Davies, University of Pennsylvania
The Nonsovereign Exception: The Kingis Quair and the Negativities of Courtly Love

Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh, University of California, Berkeley
Visualizing the Saracen: Contradiction between Text & Image in the Auchinleck's King of Tars

Sylvia Grove, University of Pittsburgh
Appetites to Inspire an Empire: Food and the Failure of France in Honoret 
Bovet’s L’Apparicion maistre Jean de Meun

3:45-4:00         Coffee Break

4:00-5:30         Keynote Address
Maud McInerney, Haverford College
Crooked Greek: Genealogy and Prophecy in Geoffrey of Monmouth and Aeneid VI

5:30                 Reception

Conference is free and open to the public. To register, please email with your name and institutional affiliation. 
Medievalists @ Penn is grateful to the generous support of our conference sponsors: School of Arts & Sciences Graduate Student Government, Department of English Graduate Studies, Program in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory, Department of French Studies, Department of Classical Studies, Department of History