Category Archives: ANZAMEMS

Western Civilisation in the 21st Century, Adelaide, 20-21 Feb. 2020

On 15 March 2019, a self-confessed white supremacist, now standing trial for terrorism and murder, is alleged to have walked into two Christchurch mosques and killed 51 people. The weapons and body armour employed in the attack contained the dates of several events in Crusading history; the manifesto of the alleged perpetrator placed his actions in an imaginary war of east-west, ongoing for a millennium. Ideas of ‘western civilisation’ implicitly situated against ‘other’ civilisations, or perhaps an absence of civilisation altogether, can be argued to have underpinned this attack. The concept of Western Civilisation, with various definitions, thus continues to be prominent in the public sphere. For some, such as the Ramsay Centre which promotes a degree in Western Civilisation, the idea continues to have social and political utility, reflecting a coherent body of knowledge, and their associated values, not least the ‘liberal’ tradition of western democracy. For others, this interpretation of European history can elide the almost continual global encounters and exchange of information that occurred, whilst denying the political uses of ‘western civilisation’ as a discourse of colonialism and imperialism.

This symposium provides a moment to reflect on the concept of Western Civilisation today, not just as a topic of historical interest but an idea that continues to hold a significant political function. What role do the histories that we write and teach play in the production of discourses of ‘western civilisation’ or resistance to it? What role do historians have in shaping ideas about the past in the present? And what responsibility do we have towards ‘western civilisation’ as a discourse? What is the future of ‘Western Civilisation’, both as taught in universities and in the public sphere?

The symposium will be held at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, 20-21 February 2020.

Expressions of interest are now invited that speak to this theme from any discipline, time period or place, and any political perspective. We have a limited number of slots but are interested in proposals for 90-minute panels, roundtables or other creative contributions. We also welcome individual expressions of interest. We encourage submissions from Indigenous people, people of colour, queer people and members of other traditionally marginalised communities. Proposals are welcome from those at all career stages.

Please send expressions of interest to westernciv2020@gmail.com by 18 October 2019.

Postgraduate and ECR attendees will be eligible to apply for travel bursaries to present at the conference. Details of the application process will be provided soon via the conference website, but please indicate with your EoI submission if you intend to apply for this funding support.

For more information, see https://westernciv2020.wordpress.com/.

Supported by ANZAMEMS, the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

Organisers: Katie Barclay, Louise D’Arcens, Clem MacIntyre, Lachlan McCarron, Amanda McVitty, Wilf Prest, Peter Sherlock, Stephanie Thomson, and Claire Walker.

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/

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/

Highlights from the Parergon archives: Grendel’s mother again

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, Emma Knowles reflects on Renée Rebecca Trilling’s ’Beyond Abjection: The Problem with Grendel’s Mother Again’, Parergon 24:1 (2007), pp. 1-20 (DOI 10.1353/pgn.2007.0059)

Renée R. Trilling’s Parergon article ‘Beyond Abjection: The Problem with Grendel’s Mother Again’ is a piece of scholarship that I have found myself returning to on a regular basis since I was an undergraduate at the University of Sydney. In it she tackles the representation of Grendel’s mother in Beowulf in an original and interesting way, despite the large volume of scholarship that already exists dealing with that character. Trilling’s analysis of Grendel’s mother emphasises her ambiguity as a character and builds usefully on the previous work of Paul Acker by tying Julia Kristeva’s theory of the abject to Beowulf and to Grendel’s mother in particular.

To the abject she adds Kristeva’s conception of the semiotic, arguing that it is not just abject or maternal characteristics which define Grendel’s mother; it is also her existence outside the ‘linguistic economy’ (4) of the text. Trilling’s analysis considers key areas of criticism associated with Grendel’s mother’s characterisation, including the role that translation plays in defining her monstrosity and the role that changing pronouns play in representing her gender. She draws these threads together to demonstrate that Grendel’s mother is disruptive in the text ‘at the level of language as well as plot’.

I read this article as an undergraduate while thinking about Grendel’s mother as a character. Trilling’s clear articulation of the relationship between Kristevan concepts and Beowulf was a key moment for me as it developed my understanding of how theory can unlock new ways of thinking about older texts. Her work was especially influential for me as I wrote my master’s thesis. In this research I considered the relevance of Kristeva’s theory of the abject not just for the representation of Grendel’s mother, but also the mere in which she lives. In this way Trilling’s work was a catalyst for my own research, and a key building block for my own thinking about Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon poems.

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/

Parergon 36.1 preview: Language and Thought in Hildegard of Bingen

We’ve 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, Jeroen de Gussem and Dinah Wouters talk about their piece, ‘Language and Thought in Hildegard of Bingen’s Visionary Trilogy: Close and Distant Readings of a Thinker’s Development’ (doi:10.1353/pgn.2019.0001).

Our article on ‘Language and Thought in Hildegard of Bingen’s Visionary Trilogy’ originated in the discovery that each of us (the authors) had data that could clarify the other’s findings. We are both writing our dissertations at Ghent University in Belgium. Jeroen’s project employs a computational methodology to investigate the issue of medieval authorship and collaborative writing in a variety of texts, ranging from Suger of Saint-Denis to Bernard of Clairvaux and Hildegard of Bingen. Dinah’s project is more focused on the figure of Hildegard and explores how the allegorical form of the vision books functions within its intellectual setting.

One day, Jeroen showed the results of a so-called ‘principal component analysis’ of Hildegard’s three vision books, which demonstrates how they each have such a distinctive stylistic profile that a computer could easily attribute small chunks of randomly chosen texts to one specific vision book. We thought this quite remarkable, given that what is most apparent to the non-digital readers is that the texts share the same prophetic and formulaic style. But Jeroen’s findings corresponded to something Dinah had discovered that same week. While studying Hildegard’s ideas on language, she had noticed that the prophet significantly changes her vocabulary and the semantic contents of words, but also that the changes are implemented as discreetly as possible. We decided to bring these two findings together and to do some collaborative writing of our own.

For the article, we combined the methodologies of distant reading and close reading, while focusing on the level of words. We investigated the frequency of words, their occurrence in relation to other words, and their semantic values. By looking at a number of almost imperceptible changes and patterns, we traced the development of Hildegard’s prophetic style. Our goal was to demonstrate how small developments in the frequency, use and meaning of words are indexical of the way in which a prophetic style, which wants to appear monolithic and unchanging, deals with variation, change, and development. A distant reading of the texts’ lexical patterns reveals subtle changes and developments not apparent at first sight, and a close reading shows that these patterns result from an effort to integrate variation and change into a style that aims to dissociate itself from human writing.

An abiding issue in Hildegard scholarship is the influence of secretaries. To what extent did the prophet’s collaborators contribute to the language and ideas of the texts? Our article makes a contribution to this discussion by highlighting the strong internal motivation behind stylistic variation and change. Regardless of how we should envisage the ‘author’ Hildegard – as a divinely inspired writer, a group effort, or a strong central voice aided by others –, the somewhat curious style of her texts appears as the voice of an unlearned woman only as the result of a stylistic effort that controls even the smallest words. We hope our article can shed light on the way in which Hildegard crafts her words and her style in accordance with her prophetic persona.

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

In this new series, we ask 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, Dr Keagan Brewer, Honorary Research Associate in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at The University of Sydney, shares his pick.

Lawrence Warner, “Geoffrey of Monmouth and the De-Judaized Crusade”, Parergon, vol. 21, no. 1 (2004), pp. 19–37. (DOI: 10.1353/pgn.2004.0076)

As an undergraduate, I had been aware of Lawrence Warner’s presence at the Medieval and Early Modern Centre at the University of Sydney. His was a face that I had seen around. I knew he specialised in Middle English, which I would have described at the time as ‘not my sort of thing’. Nevertheless, an enthusiastic undergraduate should read papers written by members of their department.

Warner’s paper was my first exposure to Parergon and the paper itself was incredibly interesting because I was a student of the crusades. It offered a completely novel approach to reading Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae. Having not read it at that stage, I had previously considered this text the domain of Anglo-Saxonists. The main thesis of Warner’s article is that the conquest of Britain can be construed as a ‘de-Judaized crusade’, and that this idea may have appealed to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s intended audience in a milieu of crusading and—all too frequently—anti-Jewish sentiment.

Warner notes the reliance on Old-Testament imagery in crusading literature and by Geoffrey of Monmouth, in both of which the protagonists are made to ‘out-do the Israelites’, as Warner puts it. To the undergraduate me, it was a completely novel way of thinking because it combined domains of medieval history that I considered starkly separate: Britain, crusading, Jewish history, and mythology. Warner links crusading to the Exodus, the Aeneid, the Brutus legends, and to Merlin. Britain and the Holy Land, in reality and idea, were more interconnected than I had previously believed, particularly for medieval English readers. I would recommend this piece to anyone interested in crusading, the politics of Arthurian literature, Jewish history, or the reception of Geoffrey of Monmouth.

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/

 

ANZAMEMS PATS: Approaching Medieval and Early Modern Conflict

Approaching Medieval and Early Modern Conflict
ANZAMEMS Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar 2019
University of Queensland (St Lucia campus), 11–12 August 2019

Applications are invited from postgraduates and ECRs in Australia and New Zealand who would benefit from taking part in this year’s ANZAMEMS Postgraduate Advanced Training Seminar, which will focus on the study of medieval and early modern conflict.

Day One will be comprised of four methodological workshops:

Conflict in Crusade Narrative (Dr Beth Spacey);
Conflict in Monastic Narrative (Assoc. Prof. Kriston Rennie);
Conflict and Material Culture (Prof. Megan Cassidy-Welch); and
Conflict in Early Modern Print Culture (Dr Charlotte-Rose Millar).

The sessions will be followed by a roundtable discussion for broader reflection on the study of historical conflict. The workshops are designed to expose participants to a variety of approaches towards conflict in a historical setting, to enable engagement with ‘research in progress’, and to develop skills in textual, visual, and material cultural analysis. This is also an opportunity for participants working on cognate topics to connect with academics, students and ECRs from UQ and beyond.

On Day Two, participants will attend the one-day symposium at UQ, Landscapes of Conflict and Encounter in the Crusading World. This symposium brings together medievalists working on diverse areas of crusading activity in Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, to give papers on the relationship between landscape, conflict and encounter. By focusing in on a particular aspect of medieval conflict, this symposium will allow participants to build their own knowledge around the theme, while providing an opportunity to network with an international group of scholars in the field.

The costs of participants’ return airfare and accommodation will be covered by ANZAMEMS and the University of Queensland.

To apply, please send the following information to Prof. Megan Cassidy-Welch (m.cassidywelch@uq.edu.au) by 17 May 2019:

  • Your name, affiliation and status (i.e. currently enrolled MA/MPhil, PhD, or ECR within 5 years of completing a postgraduate degree);
  • A copy of your academic CV;
  • A c.300-word overview of your research, including reflection on how you might benefit from participation in this PATs;
  • Estimated cost of your return economy airfare to Brisbane.

Please direct any queries to m.cassidywelch@uq.edu.au .