CFP: Six SMFS panels at ICMS Kalamazoo, 2019

The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship (SMFS) is (co-)sponsoring six panels at the 2019 International Congress on  Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Details of individual panels and organisers follow.

1. Complicit: White Women and the Project of Empire

Women in medieval texts are often read as oppressed, powerless, and without agency. This panel asks how our readings of women, such as Constance in Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale or the Princess of Tars from The King of Tars, change when we view these women as not simply acted upon, but as complicit in the scenes of conversion and imperial power that dominate these narratives. This panel seeks papers that move beyond reading women in narratives of imperial dominance as solely victims of patriarchal structures of power, and asks what it means to recognize complicity with the project of empire alongside patriarchal oppression. The goal of this panel is to offer intersectional analyses of the project of patriarchy alongside the project of empire through a reexamination of how we define and understand women’s agency.

Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to Shyama Rajendran (

2. Dysphoric Pedagogies: Teaching About Transgender and Intersex in the Middle Ages (co-sponsored by The Teaching Association for Medieval Studies (TEAMS))

Students have long seemed curious about the non-binary and non-cisgender lives that appear in courses on pre-modern periods. This panel will offer a range of pedagogy techniques, lesson plans, assignments, reading lists, and anecdotes for those interested in enhancing how they teach about transgender and intersex in the Middle Ages. The concept of “Dysphoric Pedagogies” is drawn from the DSM-5 diagnostic language that describes the experience where one’s identified or expressed gender conflicts with the gender assigned by society. Scholars will share their experiences teaching dysphoria within the art, history, and literature in an era before the DSM-5 and its various diagnoses, or the coinage of the words “transgender” or “intersex.”  How have these moments of gender diversity and conflict provoked conversations about self and society, expression and audience, nature and nurture, gender norms and non-conformity, past and present?

Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski (

3. Critical Approaches to Medieval Men and Masculinities

In recent decades, there has been increasing engagement in medieval studies with questions of gender, space and identity as they relate to medieval men and masculinities. From the hypermasculine heroes of romance to Abelard’s eunuch body, performative medieval masculinities both uphold and challenge the structural frameworks that define medieval culture and society. As such, an understanding of medieval masculinities and their role in shaping culture and society is vital to a full reading of masculinities in the twenty-first century. This panel invites papers which contribute to and extend scholarship on medieval men and masculinities, particularly those which explore queer and intersectional masculinities.

Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to Amy Burge (

4. Girls to Women, Boys to Men: Gender in Medieval Education and Socialization

Regardless of access to formal education, children learned how to become adults in medieval society from a variety of sources. Ruth Mazo Karras’s From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe traces some of the influences and ideologies surrounding the ways medieval boys were socialized to become men, contributing to critical masculinity studies by examining the formation in addition to the manifestation of masculinity. The manifestation of medieval concepts of femininity has been extensively studied, but more attention needs to be paid to the ways in which girls were socialized to become women. This panel will expand discussions about children and childhood, gender, and education. Questions that might be raised include: How were girls trained to become women? How were girls taught to view themselves? How were they taught to view men? How were men taught to view women? What ideologies and structures played a role in the ways girls were trained or taught? How do texts reinforce or defy the dominant models of feminine training and socialization?

Organizer: Dainy Bernstein. Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to

5. #MEditerraneanTOO (co-sponsored by the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies)

Neither rape culture nor women’s collective activism against sexual harassment and gender-based violence are 21st century phenomena, nor are they exclusive to the US. As a collaboration between the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies and the Society of Medieval Feminist Scholarship, this panel seeks papers that examine these topics transregionally, specifically around the multi-religious environment of the medieval Mediterranean. A range of methodologies is welcome – literary assessments of the querelle des femmes, court cases on the definition of rape, archival work on sex workers and violence, laws on forced concubinage between religious traditions, analysis of hagiographic tropes of forced marriage, etc.

Organizer: Jessica Boon. Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to

6. Nasty Women: Villains, Witches, Rebels in the Middle Ages (co-sponsored by the Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages (SSHMA))

Recent debates in modern discourse have centered around appropriate boundaries of feminine behavior. “Nastiness” has become a by-word for a specific type of womanhood, one that pushes the boundaries of acceptable sexual agency, political power, and social hierarchies. This panel will explore the various ways in “nastiness” existed in the Middle Ages, with a particular focus on gender and sexuality. How did contemporary authors, philosophers, or courts depict or deal with subversive women? How did women conceive of their own power in terms of sexual acts, gender expression, and other forms of socially-rebellious behavior? The papers in this session will address these issues through several lenses, providing new insight in the critical discourses of queer and feminist medieval scholarship.

Send abstracts, Participant Information Form, and other inquiries to Graham Drake (