Category Archives: publication

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Rationality and renaissance magic

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Julie Davies of the University of Melbourne relflects on Gregory W. Dawes, ‘The Rationality of Renaissance Magic’, Parergon 30.2 (2013), pp. 33–58. (DOI: 10.1353/pgn.2013.0132)

I was very excited to read Dawes’s article exploring the rationality of magical beliefs from a philosophical perspective. The question of belief is complex and historians of witchcraft and magic often have to balance the ideal of evaluating their subjects according to the values and beliefs of their time with the scepticism of both contemporaneous critics and modern readers. While it is sometimes appropriate to reduce engagement with supernatural themes to ignorance, credulity, fantasy, delusion or outright fraud, hastily, unconsciously or consistently presuming such would significantly distort our historical perspective. As Dawes points out, even if certain accounts of magical phenomena are known to have been completely made up, many were unquestionably intended to be plausible fictions. Understanding the rationality behind such beliefs is, therefore, key to understanding both believers and deceivers.

Dawes gives an overview explanations for magical thinking from a range of disciplines including anthropology, sociology and psychology. However, his main discussion focuses on the different epistemological levels of rational belief. Dawes leads the discussion beyond the typical historical focus on the background beliefs which supported and promoted beliefs about magic and rendered them rationally defensible. He also explores how Renaissance belief in magic was formed on the basis of evidence and other cognitive mechanisms, and how it’s weakness, from the modern perspective, arises from its failure to employ collectively rational procedures. Unlike the modern scientific community who attempt to overcome biases through replicability and verification, magical practitioners tended to value secrecy, limiting the spread of knowledge to like-minded initiates or, as in the case of controversial figures such as Paracelsus, actively maintaining independence from established institutions.

As a result, Dawes not only provides a very useful and detailed introduction to the philosophical theory of knowledge production, magical or otherwise, it also provides insight into the value shift which arguably represents the biggest hurdle to our own objective engagement with the magical past.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

Call for Special Issues: Emotions: History, Culture, Society

Emotions: History, Culture, Society, a journal of the Society for the History of Emotions, is pleased to announce its call for proposals for special issues. The next special issue is anticipated to be published in the second half of 2021.

Multidisciplinary research increasingly reveals both the historical and cultural dimensions of the modern concept of ‘emotions’, and the significant extent to which emotions, passions and feelings help constitute history, society and culture. Emotions: History, Culture, Society (EHCS) is a bi-annual peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal dedicated to understanding the emotions as culturally and temporally-situated phenomena, and to exploring the role of emotion in shaping human experience, societies, cultures and environments. We welcome theoretically-informed work from a range of historical, cultural and social domains. We aim to illuminate (1) the ways emotion is conceptualised and understood in different temporal or cultural settings, from antiquity to the present, and across the globe; (2) the impact of emotion on human action and in processes of change; and (3) the influence of emotional legacies from the past on current social, cultural and political practices. We are interested in multidisciplinary approaches (both qualitative and quantitative), from history, art, literature, languages, music, politics, sociology, cognitive sciences, cultural studies, environmental humanities, religious studies, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and related disciplines. We also invite papers that interrogate the methodological and critical problems of exploring emotions in historical, cultural and social contexts; and the relation between past and present in the study of feelings, passions, sentiments, emotions and affects. Emotions also accepts theoretically-informed and reflective scholarship that explores how scholars access, uncover, construct and engage with emotions in their own scholarly practice.

We now invite proposals for themed special issues that fall under this remit. Themed issues contain up to ten essays with a maximum word count of 60,000 words for the whole issue. Essays should bring a range of disciplinary or methodological/theoretical perspectives on the topic. The guest editor is responsible for setting the theme and drawing up the criteria for the essays.

Proposals should include a synopsis explaining the theme and how it contributes to the aims of the journal; titles and brief abstracts for each proposed essay, and short biographies of the editors and proposed authors.

The deadline for proposal submissions is 15 Dec 2019. Submissions should be sent to editemotions@gmail.com

The Special Issue will be due with editors in November 2020. Publication, of both the issue and individual essays, is subject to peer review arranged by the journal editors.

Editors
Katie Barclay, University of Adelaide
Andrew Lynch, University of Western Australia
Giovanni Tarantino, Florence

Parergon 36.1 preview: Mealtimes and authority in the Book of Margery Kempe

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Hwanhee Park, assistant professor at the Department of English Language and Literature at Kyung Hee University, South Korea, talks about “Mealtime Sanctity: the Social and Devotional Functions of Mealtimes in The Book of Margery Kempe” (DOI:10.1353/pgn.2019.0002).

My research focuses on the literature of late medieval England, particularly texts written about or by women that deal with education and self-development. I focus on women negotiating and manipulating their surroundings to aim for greater power and acknowledgement. In that process, I argue, establishing an outwardly visible characters of authority for others to see and accept becomes important — perhaps even more important than the actual interior virtues.

Margery Kempe was well aware of the importance of such visible characters of authority. As a secular woman/mystic who never bothered to remove the slash in between, she was in a tricky position to be acknowledged as a religious authority, either officially or by popular agreement. But she could find ways to make the social norms and expectations of her time — such as mealtimes and their social functions — work for her unconventional circumstances.

My article reassesses the mealtime scenes in The Book of Margery Kempe and argues that mealtimes enable Margery Kempe to claim greater spiritual authority by providing a public space for showcasing her devotion. I got the idea for this article as I was attempting to develop a previous article on Margery Kempe I had written in 2014. In that paper, I argued that Margery Kempe utilizes the ideal womanhood described in conduct books to add to her authority. Since conduct books deal with eating habits and behaviors (to such an extent that a well-known conduct book, Le Ménagier de Paris, has a huge section on meal planning and recipes added to it), I thought that the few but memorable depictions of mealtimes in The Book of Margery Kempe deserved special attention. As I revisited the text, I realized that the mealtimes are important as a stage for performing what her society deemed as good manners. Since medieval mealtimes demonstrate social hierarchy and a sense of community and harmony, Margery could use them as a stage to assert her position within the orthodox circle at a time of religious dissent.

I’m continuing my research on medieval women establishing spiritual authority by making themselves visible to the public eye. My current project goes back to the thirteenth century and to Ancrene Wisse, a guidebook for beginner anchoresses. I argue that the anchoress’s maidservants are essential in making the anchoress an authoritative figure, because of their labour made visible to the local community. This project will expand to a larger one focusing on women’s social labour in medieval England. In that, I hope to return to Margery Kempe and her fascinating career again.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

 

Call for Proposals: Parergon Special Issues 2022

The journal Parergon, in print since 1971, regularly produces one open issue and one themed issue annually. Recent and forthcoming themed issues include:

  • 2018, 35.2 Translating Medieval Cultures Across Time and Space: A Global Perspective, guest-edited by Saher Amer, Esther S. Klein, and Helene Sirantoine
  • 2019, 36.2 Practice, Performance, and Emotions in Medieval and Early Modern Cultural Heritage, guest-edited by Jane-Heloise Nancarrow and Alicia Marchant
  • 2020, 37.2 Foreign Bodies: The Exotic, the monstrous, and the medical in early modern art in Melbourne, guest-edited by Anne Dunlop and Cordelia Warr
  • 2021, 38.2 Children and War, guest-edited by Katie Barclay, Dianne Hall and Dolly Mackinnon

We now call for proposals for future themed issues, specifically for 2022 (39.2). Themed issues contain up to ten essays, plus the usual reviews section. The guest editor is responsible for setting the theme and drawing up the criteria for the essays.

Proposals should be submitted by 1 October 2019 to the Editor, Susan Broomhall at susan.broomhall@uwa.edu.au

The detailed call, including information on proposal requirements, timelines and the editorial process, can be downloaded below.

Parergon publishes articles on all aspects of medieval and early modern studies, from early medieval through to the eighteenth century, and including the reception and influence of medieval and early modern culture in the modern world. We are particularly interested in research which takes new approaches and crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Parergon asks its authors to achieve international standards of excellence. Articles should be substantially original, advance research in the field, and have the potential to make a significant contribution to the critical debate.

Parergon has an Open Access policy. Authors retain their own copyright, rather than transferring it to Parergon/ANZAMEMS; and can make the “accepted version” of their article freely available on the Web.

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Medical diagnosis of demonic possession

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Brendan Walsh talks about Judith Bonzol’s important 2009 article, “The Medical Diagnosis of Demonic Possession in an Early Modern English Community,” which appeared in Parergon 26.1 (https://doi.org/10.1353/pgn.0.0132)

Judith Bonzol’s article highlights the application of medical diagnosis in the 1604 demonic possession case of Anne Gunther. Demonic possession in the early modern period was often attributed to three main causes: genuine possession, natural illnesses, or fraud. Yet, it is with the possession of Anne Gunther that the notion of genuine possession was placed under considerable scrutiny in England. The Gunther case was at the forefront of a marked shift in early modern Reformed Protestant demonology, a shift that placed emphasis on establishing natural causation for seemingly demonic illnesses. Bonzol illustrates how Gunther’s possession was scrutinized by the ecclesiastical elite and dismissed as natural in origin through the use of medical diagnosis. Furthermore, this article delves into the complex social factors at play in the Gunther case, outlining how the influence of familial and community relationships, particularly between physicians and patients, shaped how spirit possession manifested.

The Anne Gunther possession emerged in the aftermath of the John Darrell Controversy. In 1598/99, the Puritan exorcist John Darrell (1562-?) was convicted on multiple charges of fraud by the High Commission. Fronted by Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift; the Bishop of London, Richard Bancroft; along with his chaplain, Samuel Harsnett, the High Commission ruled that Darrell had engaged in fraudulent exorcisms and stripped him of his ministry. These churchmen would usher in a period of demonological scepticism within the Church of England, leading to the introduction of ecclesiastical reform concerning witchcraft and demonic possession. The possession of Anne Gunther was one such example in which these reforms would be enacted, while also highlighting the role that physicians played in these instances.

The significance of the Gunther case was that it set the precedent for how medical diagnosis could be used to dismiss seemingly demonic illnesses. During her possession, Gunther experienced a series of strange convulsions, attacks of blindness, deafness, and fearful visions. She foamed at the mouth, abstained from taking food for long periods of time, and could describe actions performed in other rooms or how much money an individual held in their purse. As was the case with suspected demonic illnesses, medical experts were called in to examine the patient. This was at the behest of Anne’s father Brian Gunther, a man of high social-standing in the local community. Initially, physicians agreed with the Gunther patriarch that his daughter was possessed. However, this diagnosis may have simply been due to the family’s social standing. As Bonzol states, “physicians at this time were desperate to establish themselves as superior to their numerous medical rivals, and while their number included some of the best-educated secular men in England, their social status was not particularly high. In their struggle for respectability, acceptance, and social status, the physicians in the Gunter case may have thought it expedient simply to tell their client what he wanted to hear” (133). However, once the Church of England became aware of the situation, medical diagnosis would be used to challenge (and eventually dismiss) Gunther’s previously accepted possession.

I first became aware of Judith Bonzol’s work through my own research into the John Darrell Controversy. Within the scholarship on early modern demonology, this article makes effective use of the Gunther case in examining the cultural factors surrounding medical diagnosis and spirit possession in early modern England. Bonzol has written extensively on the nature of supernatural illnesses in the early modern English context. I had the pleasure of meeting Judith as an PhD student at ANZAMEMS 2017 in Wellington, and then presenting alongside her as a recent doctoral graduate at ANZAMEMS 2019 in Sydney. For any reader interested in early modern medicine, demonology, or ecclesiastical politics, this article serves as an insightful and engaging piece of scholarship.

Dr Brendan Walsh is a researcher in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

2020 Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship book prize

The SMFS Book Committee is now accepting submissions for the 2020 First Book of Feminist Scholarship on the Middle Ages. We are soliciting submissions of first monographs in any area of medieval studies. Nominated books should represent the best first monographs of feminist medieval scholarship published AND with a copyright date in 2018 or 2019.

The prize (an award of US$500), will be announced in the US spring, and formally awarded at the SMFS reception at the Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress next May. Self-nominations are acceptable; presses may nominate more than one title.

Please arrange for TWO copies (preferably paper copies) of each nominated book to be sent to SMFS President, Dr. Linda Mitchell, at the address below, along with a letter of application that summarises the book’s merits and its contribution to feminist scholarship.

The deadline for nominations and receipt of books to be considered is Friday, 18 October 2019. Please note that if your book is copyrighted for 2020, you should wait for the next iteration of this contest, in two years.

Please send all submissions to:

Dr. Linda Mitchell
7559 Walnut Street
Kansas City, MO 64114
USA

If you have an e-book version of your book available to send, please make sure that it can be duplicated so that everyone on the committee is able to read the book, and that it is not owner- or password-protected. Please also remember that sending proofs of a book that is as yet unpublished might be a violation of copyright law, so if that is what you have available, you must check with the publisher to make sure that the use of the proofs for the purposes of the prize contest is acceptable to them.

Please also note that the SMFS Advisory Board’s Book Committee has limited numbers of members with fluency in (modern) languages other than English, so if you are interested in submitting a monograph in a language other than English please do send a query BEFORE sending the book.

Parergon 36.1 preview: Acculturation and Anglo-Moroccon encounters, 1625-84.

We asked contributors to the current issue of Parergon to give us some additional insights into their research and the inspirations for their articles. In this post, Rickie Lette, who recently completed his PhD in history at the University of Tasmania, talks about his piece, “John Harrison: A Case Study of the Acculturation of an Early Modern Briton” (doi:10.1353/pgn.2019.0005).

My current research interests are principally focussed on the personal and wider cultural and social effects of encounter and exchange between Europeans and non-Europeans from the late medieval to early modern periods, with a particular emphasis on Christian-Muslim relations. My doctoral thesis reappraises the engagement of Britons with Moroccans between 1625 and 1684, examining not only the influence that their personal experiences had on their attitudes and sense of self-identity, but also on Anglo-Moroccan relations more generally during this formative period of English imperial development. It was a subject that combined my interest in inter-cultural relations and a country which had fascinated me from my first visit. And, it also provided scope for a challenging project through which I could, hopefully, make a substantial contribution to knowledge in the field.

North Africa, and the wider Mediterranean region, played important roles in England’s development as an imperial power, contributions which have largely been overlooked. While increasing attention has been given to the consequences of cultural interaction of Europe’s imperial expansion, like a number of other scholars working in this area, I believe that to properly historicise the resulting interactions and understand their impact it is necessary to move beyond generalisations and simplistic binary perspectives, and examine these encounters more closely at the level of the individuals who were directly involved. Doing so helps reveal a much more complex reality in which traditional prejudices were frequently challenged and new ideas and perspectives emerged. The case study of John Harrison, with which the article is concerned, embodies the approach I adopted in the wider study and some of its key general findings.

One distinctive aspect of my recent work has been my use of theories, methodologies and studies from other disciplines including literary criticism and anthropology. In particular, I have found the phenomenon of personal acculturation as expounded in cultural psychology a useful concept which can help provide novel insights into the nature and consequences of historical encounters between European and non-European peoples. Such analysis reveals that the socio-political conditions which existed in Morocco in the early seventeenth century not only affected diplomatic and commercial relations with England — which has already been studied by others — but they also had the potential to deeply impact the perceptions and responses of Britons who sojourned there. These insights assist our understanding of the broader dynamics and cultural impacts of encounter.

The article is the first published output arising from my doctoral thesis. Over the next eighteen months, I hope to publish one or two other essays as well as a monograph based on this work.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Methodology and medievalism

We asked members of Parergon‘s Early Career Committee to tell us about a Parergon article that really stood out for them and why they found it valuable for their research. In this post, Bronwyn Reddan talks about an innovative 2010 article by Helen Young that tackles important questions about methodology in approaches to medievalism. 

One of the things I enjoy about Parergon is the way it showcases the vibrancy of contemporary medieval and early modern scholarship by publishing articles on a diverse range of topics. My research focuses on early modern women writers, but my interest is often piqued by pieces on the afterlives of literary texts regardless of the period.

One example is Helen Young’s 2010 Parergon article ‘Approaches to Medievalism: A Consideration of Taxonomy and Methodology through Fantasy Fiction’ (
https://doi.org/10.1353/pgn.0.0235 ). This offers a valuable methodological intervention in taxonomies of medievalism by proposing an approach that examines both the historical and imagined ‘medieval’ and the purpose and effects of medievalism. Young applies this approach to modern fantasy writing using case studies from Katharine Kerr’s genre fiction and two short stories by Neil Gaiman.

Through her analysis, Young demonstrates how an examination of the effects of medievalist practice reveal convergent layers of meaning that are not always captured by taxonomies of the use of medieval sources. Young’s more nuanced approach allows her to distinguish between different approaches and engagements with medieval source material by Kerr and Gaiman, while acknowledging similarities in their use of medievalism to engage in social commentary and critique.

Parergon can be accessed via Project MUSE (from Volume 1 (1983)), Australian Public Affairs – Full Text (from 1994), and Humanities Full Text (from 2008). For more information on the current issue and on submitting manuscripts for consideration, please visit https://parergon.org/

CFP Will and Consent in Medieval Rape Narratives essay collection

Proposals are invited for contributions to the edited essay collection, Nevertheless, She Resisted: Will and Consent in Medieval Rape Narratives.

As Amy Vines notes, rape in medieval literature often functions as a “chivalric necessity,” a means of articulating masculine identity that elides or ignores questions of female bodily sovereignty and autonomy of will in favor of the male protagonist’s development. Yet we also find instances where texts implicitly or explicitly call attention to the act of rape as a violation of female will—whether in dread of the act, in the face of its perpetration, or in its aftermath—or explore the nature of consent and its often problematic conditions or interpretation.

Building on recent work by scholars such as Vines, Elizabeth Robertson, Christine Rose, Suzanne Edwards, and Carissa Harris, this essay collection seeks chapters of 6000-9000 words exploring narratives of resistance in medieval literary portrayals of rape or coercive sex. In what ways might we see such narratives recentering female will and consent? What different modes of resistance to sexual violence do they articulate? To what extent do they return agency to survivors of sexual violence? In what ways do these narratives arouse or disarm resistance on the part of female readers? How might we make issues of will and consent more legible in these texts? Most importantly, what might it mean to read from the woman’s subject position, resisting the masculinist hermeneutic that has largely dominated medieval studies?

Proposals of 300-500 words should be submitted by e-mail to Alison Langdon at alison.langdon@wku.edu. Deadline for proposals is 31 August 2019. Notification of accepted proposals will be made by 30 September 2019, with complete chapters due by 1 June 2020. The volume has been invited for submission to Medieval Institute Publications for its new Premodern Transgressive Literatures series.

CFP Cambridge Elements: Shakespeare and Pedagogy

The new Cambridge Elements Series on ‘Shakespeare and Pedagogy’ is seeking submissions of innovative scholarship of 20,000-30,000 words for peer-reviewed publication. This collection synthesises theory and practice, with original pieces of research as well as dynamic, practical engagements with learning contexts. It aims to facilitate explorations, interventions and provocations:

  • Explorations deliver extended, research-based analyses and pursuits of ideas, processes and practices.
  • Interventions present practical engagements with learning contexts, may involve teachers or practitioners as collaborators, and will speak in direct terms to real teaching situations.
  • Provocations offer critiques of practice and policy, reimagined or reoriented approaches, propositions of alternatives and urgent manifestoes.

Submissions might fall into one of these categories or represent a blend of them.
More information is on the Shakespeare Reloaded website: http://shakespearereloaded.edu.au/research/cambridge-elements-series