Saturday, 31 August 2013

CFP: The Health of the Realm: The Historical Context of Medicine in the Early Middle Ages

IMC Leeds 7-10 July 2014

While interest in medicine and medical texts has been growing in recent years, its historical context has largely been neglected. Illness and treatment do not exist in a vacuum: just as chronic stomach pain finds a place alongside Byzantine diplomacy and the Lombard threat in the letters of Gregory the Great, so the Anglo-Saxon Bald's Leechbook transcribes a remedy sent to a sick King Alfred, and Bede records the plague that brought the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow to its knees. Medical texts were the product of the circumstances, anxieties, and philosophies of their times, just as the times were shaped by the health of those who lived them.

This session hopes to explore the historical framework of illness, care, and the transmission of medical knowledge. We are looking for papers on any aspect of early medieval medicine that draws on broader themes, on topics including but not limited to:

- Cultural relations and the transmission of texts
- Trade and the market for materia medica
- The economy of medical care
- Transmission
- Vernacular and Latin sources
- Linguistic development and medical texts
- Leadership and Illness
- Death and illness, 'the Great Levellers'
- Soul, body, and the Church

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Christine Voth by September 10, 2013

CFP: Sessions at Kalamazoo 2014

The 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 8-11, 2014

Please note: these CFPs are for different sessions at Congress. If you are intending to submit to an abstract, please pay attention to the contact details for that session and direct your emails to the correct person.

CFP: New Readings on Women in Old English Literature Revisited (A Roundtable)

It has been over twenty years since the publication of New Readings on Women in Old English Literature, edited by Helen Damico and Alexandra Hennessey Olsen (Indiana University Press 1990). That text was a landmark, the first to collect scholarship examining Old English texts, both canonical and those less frequently considered, from a feminist perspective. Many of the essays included are still valuable, but it is time for an updating of this important text. Much valuable work has been accomplished in the years since its publication, and more remains to be done. This session is a roundtable in which participants will discuss the state of scholarship that considers Anglo-Saxon texts from a feminist perspective, whatever that might mean today, and what direction an updating of the original volume might take. Helen Damico has agreed to serve as a respondent. This special session is a preliminary part of a project that looks towards producing a new volume of essays updating the original.

Please contact Yvette Kisor by September 15, 2013. Along with your proposal, please include a completed Participant Information Form, which is available on the ICMS website.

CFP: Give and Take: Exchange in Early Medieval English, Norse, and Celtic Literature

Gift-theory and theories of exchange continue to grant interesting insights into medieval literature, and medievalists have important perspectives to contribute to the body of theoretical scholarship on exchange. This session seeks papers exploring concepts of exchange in early medieval Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic literatures and is especially interested in papers that apply gift-theory beyond the simple exchange of gift-items. This means, for instance, considering exchange more broadly (exchanged violence, exchange between generations, exchange between the spiritual and temporal realms, symbolic exchange, etc.), or thinking through conceptual problems within gift-theory addressed by medieval sources: for example, how is meaning negotiated and guaranteed through exchange? Where are the lines are between gift, loan, and purchase? How does the gift reveal or hide intention? How is the extent of selflessness or self-interest determined or judged? How does the gift function as a test or revelation of character? What is the relationship between a thing given and its meaning?

250-300-word abstracts should be sent to Stephanie Clark by September 15. Along with your proposal, please include a completed Participant Information Form, which is available on the ICMS website. Unless requested otherwise, proposals not used in this session will be forwarded on to the Congress committee for consideration for general sessions.

CFP: Single-Manuscript Texts: the Challenges and Opportunities of Uniqueness

For many theories of textual criticism, single-manuscript texts are a problem and anomaly, yet many of the most important works of medieval literature are known from single manuscripts. Within English literature alone, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, many of the lyrics in Harley 2253, and scores of other texts are unique. Moreover, medieval readers had to cope with lone texts at least as often as do modern scholars. The behavior of scribes, annotators, and translators working from damaged or otherwise problematic exemplars makes clear that in the Middle Ages, people often encountered texts that they could never expect to compare with others. The experience of uniqueness, then, was in fact a normal aspect of medieval book culture. But once we have stopped seeing single-manuscript texts as anomalies, how shall we proceed? Does uniqueness demand its own editorial practice? How should we read books that have no parallels?

With such questions in mind, we hope to bring together scholars working on a range of national languages and time periods to discuss the principles and methods guiding our study of single-manuscript texts, with the goal of understanding how unique manuscripts can be understood within medieval book culture and modern critical practice.

Abstracts and Participant Information Forms should be sent to Arthur W. Bahr.

Queries may also be directed to Emily Thornbury.

CFP: Strange Letters: Alphabets in Medieval Manuscripts

The letter, as most medieval grammatical texts will tell you, is the fundamental unit of language; if you want to know a language, you must know its letters. Throughout much of the western middle ages, knowledge of languages was primarily restricted to Latin and various European vernaculars, all of which were written with the Roman alphabet. Nevertheless, medieval scholars were well aware of other alphabets, and even knew the rudimentary connections among say the Roman, Greek, and Hebrew alphabets. Despite the general inability to interact with these and other languages in a sustained way, medieval scribes exhibit a fascination with a variety of non-Roman alphabets: Greek, and Hebrew, of course, but also Runes, Coptic, Arabic, and invented alphabets like that attributed to Aethicus Ister.

This session looks to bring together scholars working on these alphabets and those with interest in the topic to share each others' insights. Potential topics include but are not limited to:
- Alphabet Collections
- Ciphers and Codes
- Alphabetic/acrostic poetry
- The use of foreign - and pseudo - scripts in medieval art
- The use of letters in charms and magic
- Foreign marginalia
- Manuscript runes

Please send any queries as well as abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participation Form to session organizer Damian Fleming by September 15, 2013. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract. Abstracts not accepted for this session will be forwarded to the Congress committee which will consider the paper for inclusion in a general session.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Another Guest Post from a Non-Existent Blogger

A while ago I wrote a blog post about some underhand marketing techniques practised by snakeoil salesmen SEO companies. Specifically I wrote about ‘guest blogging services’, where a company makes a fake persona and offers poorly written guest posts to unsuspecting bloggers (posts that will invariably include backlinks to whichever website had paid for this particular brand of snakeoil optimization).

A couple of funny things happened as a result of this post. Firstly, I didn’t get any more unsolicited emails from ‘guest bloggers’. Secondly (and this might account for the first thing), my blog stats increased with a massive number of hits coming from the search ‘Guest bloggers wanted’. I assume that guest blogging services were carrying out these searches, looking for dupes to post their covert advertisements, but that they were scared off by the content of the post.

Ironically, this has had a great effect on my page rankings – so thank you SEO companies!

But I was starting to miss my fake little correspondents… there’s only so many times you can out ‘Nancy Parker’ on other blogs before it becomes boring. Sigh.

Fortunately, I’d misjudged these fine purveyors of snakeoil sustainable natural link profiles. Not all of them were bright enough to read my post – or, apparently, the second part of the title. And so, I was contacted last week by ‘joshua william’, who had read my blog thoroughly and thought he had an article that would really fit with my other content and appeal to my readers.

The title of this post?
Tips for Making Your Food Last Longer in the Refrigerator
The post itself is mind-numbingly asinine. It includes such vapid gems as:
When storing delicate herbs like basil, chives, cilantro and parsley in the refrigerator, make sure they are covered in plastic in order to get the best and longest life from them.
One of the biggest problems with cheese storage is that it dries out. By rubbing and with a light coat of butter, you can extend the life of your cheese in the refrigerator.
A Google search of some of the terms also reveals that the text has been used in almost the exact same form on other blogs, so it’s not even original banality. To top it all off, the post included an image of a refrigerator to be included, which had been lifted (without any credit or acknowledgement or shame) from a site called Fashion Bloggers.

So who on earth would send me such a bizarrely incongruous post? (NB: In case you've never read my blog before, I mostly post links to academic conferences, book reviews and random musings/rants about popular culture. Over half of my posts are, in one way or another, related to werewolves.)

The author, according to the piece itself, is Vince Bradley. Here’s Vince’s bio (cheeky embedded hyperlink removed, of course):
Vince Bradley is a kitchen appliance technician. He is specializing in stove and refrigerator repair. He likes to write and give advise about how to maintain kitchen appliance in good condition and also how to repair a broken home appliance. He is works for ********** [On reflection, I've decided not to publish the name of this company. They look legit and their only mistake was to trust a dodgy SEO company. I don't want this post to reflect in any way on their business practices.]
I don’t know anything about **********, but from looking at their website and their Twitter feed, I have no doubt that they are a real company. Given what they say about their history and their interactions with customers on social media, I believe they are legitimate and reputable.

But Vince Bradley isn’t. He doesn’t work for ********** – in fact, he doesn’t exist. At some point over the past year, ********** paid to have a new website built and made the mistake of believing they needed snakeoil SEO. Their new website features a fancy new blog feature, which is filled with posts written by… you guessed it… ‘Vince Bradley’. The posts on their site are almost word for word copies of the substandard copy being shilled around as ‘guest blog posts’.

Here’s Vince’s profile pic on the ********** blog:

I couldn’t find any reference to Vince anywhere else on the site, or, indeed, anywhere else on the web (except for an unpopulated and unused Google+ profile containing the same profile picture). A reverse image search threw up a few more pictures though.

Here’s Vince holding a clipboard:

Here’s Vince pointing cheerfully at something:

That’s right, ‘Vince Bradley’ is an image taken from the iStockphotos ‘Serviceman’ series.

I was planning on ending this post here, but there’s an odd little postscript. During my initial communication with ‘joshua william’ (the correspondent who sent me the guest post in the first place), I read his emails on my phone. I assumed (and, I believe, rightly) that ‘joshua william’ was an equally fake persona created by the SEO company.

When I opened his email on my webmail, rather than on my phone app, it turns out ‘joshua william’ also has a Google+ profile. Like Vince’s, joshua’s profile is inactive and empty. But it does have a profile picture:

I do love reverse image searches, so I was curious to know where joshua got his face from. It turns out this was a more direct piece of ‘face theft’, as this image is not taken from a stock photo site, but from an individual’s Twitter account.

The SEO company has lifted an image of Benjamin Mueller, an intern and journalist at the LA Times. I can’t see any connection between Mr Mueller and a dodgy SEO company, so I think this is simply a case of an image being used without permission.

A final little detail though… in checking out Benjamin Mueller’s identity and online profile, I came across a number of articles he’s written for the LA Times. One piece in particular caught my eye: a story from June this year about a California court’s ruling that Pelican Bay State Prison must return a confiscated novel to an inmate. The novel, The Silver Crown by Mathilde Madden, was deemed by guards to be obscenity and ‘liable to cause violence’ and so was removed from him. As was revealed in Mueller’s article, The Silver Crown is a werewolf erotica novel; however, the court ruled that despite the ‘less than Shakespearean’ characters, Madden’s book does possess ‘serious literary value’ and so cannot legally be labelled obscene.

Mueller’s article is a wry, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, look at the court’s ruling and the original confiscation of the ‘furry ménage à trois’, and the implications of confiscating reading material that (while not obscene) contains depictions of sex. I’m glad I found this story, as I hadn’t come across it when it was published in June. And I guess I wouldn’t have found it at all without the nefarious tactics of ‘joshua william’ and his snakeoil snakeoil peddling ilk.

So, in the end, everything eventually came back to werewolves again. There’s a nice lycanthropic inevitability in that.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

CFP: Locating the Gothic

October 22-25, 2014

Limerick School of Art and Design and Mary Immaculate College, Limerick

The Gothic is a mode that is intimately connected to location. Sites and spaces both define and demarcate the limits of Gothic aesthetics and have shaped the way varieties of the Gothic have developed over time. From hazy moors and dense forests, to urban labyrinths, contemporary cyberscapes and postmodern dystopias, the Gothic has traversed many varied landscapes, both internal and external, historic and contemporary, from which fearful and disturbing atmospheres emerge. Psycho-geographical underpinnings in the Gothic are often the basis for key Gothic experiences such as the sublime and the uncanny. The correlations between space and identity, site and narrative, are central to this and evoke new and interesting approaches to Gothic art, literature, and culture. Thus, we seek to engage with the notion of location as it underpins the literary, artistic, and physical formations of Gothic, and as it may allow us to ‘locate’ the Gothic, or versions of the same in artistic, critical and cultural terms. We are particularly interested in papers which approach alternative forms of Gothic spatiality, particularly those which discuss the Gothic in contemporary art and media. Proposals should be e-mailed to Maria Beville and Tracy Fahey by 1st May 2014.

Themes suggested (but not limited to) the following:

- Urban Gothic/Rural Gothic
- Regional Gothic/National Gothic
- Gothic Utopias/Dystopias/Heterotopias
- Spatially based contexts of Gothic (i.e. mythology, folklore, oral traditions)
- Colonial/Postcolonial/Transcultural Gothic
- Dramatic spaces Gothic places and spaces; Psychogeography and the Gothic
- Gothic and Architecture
- Cartography and the Gothic Spatial structures of Gothic
- Cybergothic/Gothic and multimedia/digital media
- Limits and boundaries in the Gothic
- The Gothic and Domestic space
- Locating the Gothic in genre/locating the Gothic in culture

For more information about the conference and the linked festival, please click here.  

Friday, 16 August 2013

Twihards and Directioners

So… it’s been a good week for derisively labelling young women as mentally ill.

In the worlds of (predominantly) female fandoms, there have been two big stories this week. The first, an interview with Stephenie Meyer in Variety in which the author was quoted as saying she is ‘over’ Twilight.* This was greeted by a wave of responses by self-described ‘Twihards’, which, in turn, was met with mockery and criticism. The second story followed Channel 4’s broadcasting of a ‘documentary’ entitled Crazy About One Direction.

Before I start (what is probably going to turn into a rant), I want to make it clear that I don’t think Twihards and Directioners are the same thing, or that these respective fandoms have much in common. The object of attention for these fandoms – a multi-media franchise for one, a pop band on the other – are completely different. The methods and media through which Twihards and Directioners express their devotion are also substantively different, though there is occasional overlap on social media. However, I am linking these stories because of the connection Twihards and Directioners share in terms of demographics: on the whole, they are young women, or at least imagined to be so by their detractors.

The Twilight Story

Stephenie Meyer’s throwaway comment in the Variety interview might make complete sense to other writers, many of whom have expressed their sympathy for the backlash she has faced. Meyer wrote a series of books which became a phenomenon, attracting both a legion of devoted (and vocal) fans and an army of cynical, snide critics. Let us remember, Twilight was Meyer’s debut novel; it must be kind of weird to have your first published works publicly ripped to pieces by Stephen King. Or to see reports that fans of your work have mobbed a waxwork model of an actor who portrayed one of your characters on screen. Perhaps we can excuse Meyer for wanting to take a (permanent) break from this.

I don’t really want to discuss the rights and wrongs of Meyer’s comment, or the question of whether she was accurately quoted. What I’m interested in is the reaction of the fans – specifically the Twihards. After the article was published, it received a number of comments from self-described Twihards decrying Meyer’s ‘rejection’ and ‘humiliation’ of her fans. I say ‘a number of comments’, in fact that same comment was posted a number of times by different people. Here is the comment in its entirety:
Stephenie, do you think that maybe you thought of us, the fans and admirers, who for all these years not only followed your Saga but also followed you, your life and your other work and showed true love for your writing that not only made us fall in love but also changed the lives of each and everyone of us? By saying that “it’s not a happy place to be” you despised and you humiliated us all. This is OUR place, and you are responsible for it. In IT we are happy, and it is just unforgivable for you to try to take it away from us. It might not be for you, but for us it is FOREVER Sincerely, Twihards #TwilightIsAHappyPlace
Reading these comments, which are interspersed with more personalized commentary from Twilight fans and a number of critics questioning both Meyer’s talent and the Twihards’ response, is a somewhat bizarre experience. The comment is repeated, occasionally with an additional ‘hey’ or ‘hi’ at the beginning, sometimes with the first part of ‘Stephenie’ missing. It appears in Portuguese at least once, and some posts have slightly odd formatting. My first reaction, I must admit, was to describe these comments as Annie Wilkes’s sentiments written in Jack Torrance’s style.

I was not the only person to engage in a bit of snark about these commenters. Other posters spoke of the Twihards’ need to develop some ‘manners’ or to act like ‘normal fans’. They criticized the Twihards for copying and pasting a group response, rather than expressing something personal. And, some used this as an excuse to trot out the usual ‘Twihards are frightening/mentally ill’ rhetoric. As one commenter succinctly says at the end of their post: ‘Yikes!’

However, if you pay a little more attention to what the Twihards are saying here – and, particularly, to their explanation for the copy-and-pasted comments, another story emerges. Apparently, the comment originated on a fan forum and was written out in English to help Brazilian fans who weren’t confident to post in English. Immediately, then, we should distance these fans from the figure of Annie Wilkes. They are also not a ‘mob’: they are part of a community, who communicate and offer assistance to each other where necessary. They also organize group expressions of fan loyalty. Am I the only one who thinks that Annie Wilkes would have been a lot happier if she’d joined a board like that, maybe written a bit of fan fiction, got a Twitter account? I’m sure most people agree, there is something empowering and healthy about being part of a community – online or IRL – and the Twihards’ response to Stephenie Meyer highlights the communal aspect of fandom perfectly.

As an academic, I also have to say that I believe the Twihards were absolutely right in their sentiments. Particularly when they say ‘this is OUR place’. I’ve written elsewhere about (failed) attempts by authors to limit fan appropriation of work, and the ways in which these strategies reveal the last, dying grasp of the Author (with a capital A). In her defence, I should say that Meyer herself did not attempt to wrest any control of her work from the Twihards – that was the work of commentators who claimed that it was Stephenie Meyer’s right to decide when Twilight was ‘over’, and she (alone) could say when fans should ‘move on’.

Theorists from Roland Barthes to Henry Jenkins would beg to differ with that. Twilight is as much the property (and, speaking theoretically here, creation) of the readers and fans as it is of Meyer. Put this way, the anger of the Twihards is justifiable, given that they interpreted Meyer’s words as a rejection of their continued investment in the series.

Whether or not you agree with the ‘death of the author’ premise I’m hinting at here, there is a more pressing question. Why does any of this make the Twihards ‘insane’? Why is a Twilight fan who refuses to accept the end of canonical production ‘mad’, but a Star Wars fan who disavows The Phantom Menace (or a Watchmen fan who won’t watch Zack Snyder’s film adaptation) is a purist?

The answer should be sadly obvious. It relates to the gender and (perceived) age of the Twihards. Star Wars ‘purists’ tend to be males or females aged around forty and above (I’m using Barney Stinson’s Ewok Line for want of a more academic resource here). I’m not going to rant about this again, as I’ve already talked about the relationship between criticisms of the Twilight series and the perceived gender and age identities of its fans on a blog post for the Gothic Imagination.

The important takeaway from this story, though, is actually just one word. The Twihards spoke out, as a group, in defence of their fandom, and the response was: ‘Yikes!’


The One Direction Story

The next female fandom to come under attack – in a more authoritative way this time – were the Directioners. On Thursday 15th August, Channel 4 broadcast the ‘documentary’ (and, as this is a rant, I’m going to keep the scare quotes around that term) ‘Crazy About One Direction’. That’s right. Crazy. They used the word ‘crazy’.

Here’s the trailer (apologies for quality):

This documentary is a tired attempt to draw teenage female fans as mentally ill. The programme makers have barely even attempted to hide their intentions. The trailer opens with a young woman stating that her fandom ‘could kill you’, and the soundtrack (despite the other songs by the band that could have been chosen) is One Direction’s cover of Blondie’s ‘One Way or Another’, with its repeated refrain of ‘I’m gonna get ya’. Note as well the voiceover’s subtle distinguishing of the ‘general public’ who voted One Direction to stardom on X-Factor and the ‘army of fans’ who are responsible for the band’s continued success. Because… erm… the band’s fans aren’t part of the ‘general public’ any more than the Twihards are ‘normal fans’.

Sadly, the ridicule to which the Directioners were (and are) held up is also new. Nor is the suggestion that this fandom might be dangerous or harmful in some way. Nor is the suggestion that belonging to this fandom might be symptomatic of mental illness. A quick glance at a history of female fandoms in the twentieth century will show a long list of groups who have been held up to similar criticism, mockery and censure. In fact, this entire history can be summed up in one word: Beatlemania. Mania. As in madness.

The idea that women (especially young women) are trivial and frivolous by nature is pretty engrained in European culture. Thus, cultural productions aimed specifically at women have always granted less cultural worth. And those primarily consumed by younger women (teenagers, once the concept of the teenager was invented) even more so.

Among the arguments regularly made for the lower cultural capital of young women’s cultural productions is that this specific audience is less discerning, more susceptible to manipulation and more like to give in to a group mentality. The latter has even been pathologized – as hysteria – the highly contagious, terrifying female ailment that is usually diagnosed in cases of Beatlemania and related conditions.

The other two arguments are more problematic to explore. In order to decide that teen girls are less discerning in their cultural tastes, you need to have already made a decision about the cultural validity of the products they are consuming. In other words, if you think Directioners (or the Twihards or the women who inspired Jane Austen’s Catherine Morland) are less discerning, you must have already decided that One Direction (or Twilight or eighteenth-century Gothic novels) are trash. So you have to have listened to all of One Direction’s music, read all four Twilight novels (and watched the film adaptations), and pored over The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Monk and all the other less well-known fictions that Austen parodied. In my experience, most critics of teen girls’ fandoms have done none of these things.

So, how about the argument that young women are more susceptible to manipulation? This is something that comes up a lot in criticisms of Twihards and Directioners. These fandoms are being manipulated in their devotion by cynical media companies and advertising campaigns – they are being told what to like, what cultural productions to buy.

Yes. Of course they are. All fans are.

A teenage girl queuing up for a midnight showing of Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is no different to a grown man queuing up for a midnight showing of (yet another) remastered version of The Empire Strikes Back. I know a case of an older gentleman (let’s call him ‘my dad’ for argument’s sake) who has devoted his entire adult life to collecting EVERYTHING Bob Dylan has ever recorded. Pre-internet, he used to trawl record fairs and magazines tracking down rare bootleg recordings. It took him ages. But when the record company released an ‘official’ box-set of those exact same recordings – he went out and bought that as well. Does that mean that I get to claim that middle-aged men are ‘more susceptible to manipulation’? No. It means that fans will always be persuaded to part with their money to express their devotion and loyalty.

And I’m not even going to address the issue of One Direction being a manufactured band put together by a record company to make money. So were The Sex Pistols, who have been used to flog everything from fashion to butter (and at least Niall Horan can play the guitar).

Reading the fan responses to the Channel 4 documentary last night was both heartbreaking and eye-opening. So many Directioners tweeted and, later, commented on online articles, about their distress and embarrassment following the broadcast. It should be noted that there were also (as yet unsubstantiated) rumours of suicide attempts.

But, in addition to this, many Directioners were eloquent about what they saw as the injustice of the programme. They spoke of a perceived ‘dehumanization’ (which, in my opinion, is a very apt summary of the programme’s intentions). They also wrote of poor journalistic techniques and a strategy of sensationalizing. Some spoke of the programme as an attack on an already vulnerable group of young people – many Directioners mentioned loneliness, depression and self-harming tendencies which they had come to terms with through their identification within a fandom community. A number of fans wrote about regret over their previous treatment of ‘Larry Shippers’ (a subgroup within the fandom who came under particularly cynical scrutiny in the show.

While Channel 4 seemed to be at pains to point out the power that the Directioners apparently wield, the responses to the show highlighted this group’s powerlessness and its vulnerability. These are not people who have a platform from which to argue their own case – the ‘responses’ I speak of were Twitter conversations that I (hate to admit it) eavesdropped on. This is a group that are ridiculed online and IRL frequently, who are already decried as being ‘mad’, ‘unnatural’ and ‘frightening’ and yet are in many cases, by Western legal standards at least, children.

When I mentioned the Twihards above, I spoke of the community aspect of fandom. This was something highlighted in the Channel 4 documentary as one of the more unsettling aspects of the Directioners’ fandom – i.e. community = potentially dangerous mob. I think it’s worth thinking for a moment about just how dangerous the Directioners really are, and how that might compare with other fandoms.

Here’s a scenario: if I post something on Twitter criticizing One Direction, there’s a small chance I might get trolled. If I post something seriously insulting about them, I might get some systematic trolling. I might have to block some people.

Here’s another scenario: I, as a woman, state that I believe ewoks are fully responsible for saving the Rebel Alliance and defeating the Empire (and that the wookie simply brought the equipment). Not only does a view like that provoke trolling, it encourages misogynistic slurs, questions about my intelligence, and (this really did happen, IRL not online) a threat that I might ‘learn that opinions like that can be dangerous’.

That is one flippant example. There are literally hundreds of other examples of how male fandoms are genuinely unsafe spaces for women. Never mind objectification and dehumanization in canon, there’s sexual harassment at conventions, threats of sexual assault and rape, silencing of female writers and artists, the list goes on. Traditionally male fandoms can actually be physically, emotionally and psychologically harmful to women. I think this deserves a ‘Yikes!’ more than a copy-and-pasted declaration of love.

And yet, it is the Twihards and Directioners (and others like them) that are labelled as ‘mad’ or ‘dangerous’. Consistently. Just as the Take That fans who mourned their split in 1996 were labelled as ‘hysterical’ and ‘pathetic’. Just as the girls in my class at school who broke down in tears when they heard about the death of River Phoenix (showing my age) were laughed at by our teachers and told to ‘stop disrupting the class’ – a class, I might add, that was completely disrupted (at the instigation of the teacher) after Graham Taylor took Gary Lineker off in the match against Sweden in Euro 92. Regardless of whether football fans commit more acts of vandalism and violence than grieving River Phoenix fans, or whether sci fi conventions face more accusations of sexual harassment than Justin Bieber concerts, it is female fandoms that are labelled as ‘dangerous’, ‘disruptive’, ‘unhealthy’ and ‘insane’.

The Channel 4 documentary is the most recent attempt to label young female fans as mentally ill, but it belongs to a long, rant-inspiring tradition. It also highlights the continued strategies used to denigrate the cultural preferences of a social group with limited cultural capital and platform. In the words of One Direction’s Liam Payne, these strategies are ‘full of bullshit’, and should have been left behind a long time ago.

* Meyer has since expanded and clarified this point in a statement on her own website.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review: Mazarkis Williams, The Emperor's Knife (Jo Fletcher Books, 2011)

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the author for review – but that’s not really news, as that’s true of most books reviewed on here and it carries absolutely no guarantee of anything other than an honest review. Even fuller disclosure: the author sent me a lovely, signed hardback edition, which has lingered on my to-review pile for far longer than I care to admit. I’m slightly embarrassed by how long it has taken me to post this.

Anyway… continuing in the anecdotal mode for a moment… why did I decide to review The Emperor’s Knife at all? The book is the first in a series – the Tower and Knife trilogy – which is (roughly speaking) high fantasy. I usually don’t read high or epic fantasy, preferring urban fantasy, sci fi and horror, but I like having the opportunity to dip my toe into other genres every once in a while. The synopsis of the book looked really intriguing, so I thought, if I’m going to read a high fantasy book, why not make it that one?

There was another big attraction with The Emperor’s Knife, and one that is a little unusual. I was attracted by the publisher. Williams’s novel is published by Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus. I must admit, I haven’t yet found a book published by Quercus that I don’t like, and three of my absolute favourite authors of recent years (Cat Clarke, Tom Fletcher and Peter May are all published by them. In fact, Quercus are the only publisher whose books I will buy for the name of the publisher alone. So, despite knowing nothing about Mazarkis Williams, I was already inclined to give The Emperor’s Knife a go.

So… I’ll start talking about the book now, shall I?

The Emperor’s Knife is a fantasy novel set in a Middle Eastern-ish, Arabian Nights-sort-of world of emperors, viziers, magic and intrigue. There are a number of interwoven plots circling around a ‘plague’ at the heart of the Cerani Empire. A mysterious ailment is spreading through the empire, marking ‘carriers’ with a strange pattern – both physically and psychologically – and linking them to something ‘greater’, something unknown. At the book’s opening, it is made clear that the emperor (Beyon) is having ‘carriers’ put to death, but also that he himself is at risk of attack from those afflicted.

Parallel to the story of the empire’s struggle with the pattern is the story of Sarmin, Beyon’s brother. The last surviving brother of the emperor (the others having been killed in childhood to prevent any challenges to the throne), Sarmin lives in a hidden room in the palace, almost entirely ignored by the rest of the court. As Sarmin’s story progresses, his relationship to the pattern develops and the reader realizes he will play a much larger role in the future of the empire than his ‘forgotten’ status at first suggests.

Sarmin and Beyon’s mother, the ‘Empire Mother’ Nessaket has arranged for her ‘hidden’ son to marry. As such, a young ‘Felt’ woman, Mesema is being brought to the court as the prince’s bride. Mesema must struggle with both homesickness and a fear of the unknown, as well as with the physical dangers her journey entails. She is guided – at least at first – by Banreh, one of her countrymen, who attempts to teach her enough of the Cerantic language and imperial culture to get by in her new home. Like Sarmin, Mesema is draw into the web of the ‘pattern-master’. Mesema’s travels to the imperial court are fraught with danger, but also filled with a growing understanding of what is happening around her.

Finally, there’s Eyul, bearer of the eponymous Knife. Eyul is the imperial assassin, with long-standing and unshakeable loyalty to the throne. At the book’s opening, Eyul is sent out into the desert lands around Cerani to discover the true meaning of the pattern and to find a way to reverse the damage it is doing. On his way, he meets Amalya (a mage) with whom he forms a bond that causes Eyul to question some of his life’s mission (to an extent, anyway).

If this sounds like a lot to take in, that’s because it is. The scope of Williams’s novel is definitely ‘epic’. The world-building of the novel is detailed and there is a huge cast of characters, each of which have a different connection and affiliation within the world of the Cerani empire. Admittedly, this means that The Emperor’s Knife is not the sort of book you dive into and plough on through. I found the first couple of chapters quite a slow read (though I don’t mean this as a criticism), as they required my full attention. This is not a book for skim-reading.

The world itself also requires concentration for total immersion in it. While some aspects of the narrative landscape of The Emperor’s Knife might be considered ‘stock’ fantasy elements – there’s a harem of wives, for instance, and a scheming mother-figure – making the world of Emperor’s Knife seem, at times, rather familiar, there is something a little off-key about the setting, something a little unsettling. Again, this isn’t a criticism – the unsettling, off-key quality is a real strength of Williams’s writing. There is a lightness of touch to descriptions and exposition (which is used sparingly) that was a pleasure to read.

For me, the most compelling aspect of The Emperor’s Knife was the characterization. As I’ve said, there are a lot of characters, and some had more life about them than others. I’ll admit, I didn’t find all the characters engaging (Nessaket and her lover Tuvaini didn’t grab me particularly), but others fascinated me. I enjoyed the interaction between Eyul and Amalya in the earlier sections of the book – these two characters were so restricted by their ‘roles’ in the world that their dialogue was stilted and their mannerisms formal, so it was interesting to see their relationship develop and deepen within such rigid constraints.

However, the highlight of the book for me was Mesema’s interactions with the emperor Beyon – the brother of her intended husband. In the early chapters, I was fully convinced that I was going to hate Beyon. But as the story progressed and more was revealed about this character (again, Williams does this with a light touch, relying on implication and nuance more than explanation), I became really taken with him. I’d go as far as to say he was my favourite character. Mesema is the ‘feisty’ outsider – which, again, could be considered a stock element – but her interactions with Beyon were unexpected and engaging. Much of this surprised me, which is something I like in novel.

If I have a criticism of the book, it’s that the pacing is rather inconsistent. I found some chapters dragged a little, while others flew by. I rattled through the final section of the book, from the point where the storylines converged, not wanting to put it down. However, some of the earlier chapters (mostly the sections with the journey through the desert) seem a little pedestrian in comparison.

The thing that intrigued me most from the synopsis of The Emperor’s Knife was the pattern ‘plague’. The book’s blurb is vague about the nature of this ailment, and I’m going to be too. The nature of the pattern is revealed in a winding, circuitous way, and I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading the book and following the path to understanding. All I will say is that I found the resolution (and I guess you could call it the reveal) really satisfying, and well worth following the threads through the labyrinthine narrative to reach the conclusion.

I’m curious to know where the series will go. The Emperor’s Knife could easily have been a standalone novel, but it is apparently part of a trilogy. There’s no cliffhanger as such at the end, so no obvious signposts to what will come in the second book. The (very brief) advert at the back of the book only promises that the story of (some of) the characters will continue – but no real hint as to where!

Overall, then, I recommend The Emperor’s Knife. If detailed, complex worlds and an extensive cast of characters is your thing, then I’m sure you will lose yourself in this novel. (Though, if you like your fantasy brash, punchy and filled with trolls, wizards and grizzled warriors, this probably isn’t the ideal read for you.) As I said at the beginning of the review, this type of fantasy is not my usual genre of choice, but Williams is an accomplished writer and a good storyteller, and, at the end of the day, that’s far more important to me than genre labels.

So, in summary, I still haven’t found a Quercus book I don’t like.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: The Hunters (dir. Chris Briant, 2011)

I know it’s a little strange to review a film two years after its release, but RS and I watched this a couple of nights ago, and I wanted to post a little something about it. In fact, this isn’t really a review of a film so much as a review of a bizarre piece of marketing. We found The Hunters – an indie film, director Chris Briant’s first feature film – on Netflix as a recommendation based on what we’d previously watched. The blurb promised:
“Before parting ways after high school, six friends venture into a forbidden part of town and explore what they think is an abandoned fort. But the adventure soon turns bloody, and the kids realize they’re trapped in a nightmare of the goriest sort.”
It probably tells you a lot about what RS and I usually watch that a) Netflix thought a film like that would suit us and b) we agreed and watched it. RS was more enthusiastic than me, I must admit, as I've seen more than enough teens-in-peril films to last me a lifetime. But we decided to give it a go. Bear that blurb in mind, though, as I’ll come back to it shortly.

The Hunters begins with two men arriving at what looks to be an abandoned fort in the woods. They have outdoorsy-type gear with them, and they appear to be away for a weekend. One of them, Ronny (played by Steven Waddington), is uncomfortable, claiming to hear shouts and screams coming from the fort. His friend, Oliver (Tony Becker), laughs off his concerns, making some jokes about Ronny being trapped in his marriage and his daily life. As they get their gear ready, some other men arrive at the fort.

I think it’s worth pointing out here that none of the characters so far are high school age – but more on that later.

The film then cuts to another character, Le Saint (played by Briant himself), a war veteran who has taken a job with the police force. In the early scenes, Le Saint clashes with his boss Bernard (Terence Knox) about whether or not to pursue a series of missing persons cases. Le Saint believes there is a pattern to the disappearances, but Bernard wants him to drop the case and concentrate on his actual job. Le Saint is troubled – both by the restrictions placed on him at work and by flashbacks to Iraq and to his (presumably) ex-girlfriend. He meets a young woman, Alice (Dianna Agron), and is obviously attracted to her, but keeps a cold distance (cue more flashbacks to his ex).

Again, none of these characters are high school age. Not a single one. There also is no group of ‘six friends’ at any point in the film.

Le Saint’s story is then intercut with Oliver and Ronny’s. We see Le Saint’s growing frustration with the administration role he has been forced into, alongside scenes of Oliver’s unsatisfying day job and Ronny’s disillusionment with family and home life. Le Saint is instructed to take on the task of protecting a foreign agent, which necessitates a meeting at Fort Goben – a place that Bernard insists is just a hangout for ‘homosexuals humping on each other’ and drug-users, but that Le Saint suspects has something to do with the missing persons cases. When he arrives to meet the agent, we see that Fort Goben is the same place that Oliver and Ronny go to at weekends.

Shortly after arriving at Fort Goben, Le Saint runs into Oliver, Ronny and their friends, and begins to discover the truth about what is going on at the fort. Things do, eventually, ‘turn bloody’ (but with no high school kids).

The Hunters is a very muddled film – in more ways than one. The two plotlines – Le Saint’s story, and the story of Oliver and Ronny – don’t always gel, and each one feels like it should have been developed further. Potentially rich backstories are hinted at for all three of the main protagonists, but these don’t really go anywhere. Le Saint’s relationship with Alice is confusing, and it’s not clear what the point of this is – outside of highlighting Le Saint’s troubled past and inability to connect with others. What makes this more confusing are a series of scenes with Alice and her friends, hinting at the woman’s disillusionment with small-town life – culminating in some angsty dialogue towards the end of the film, after Alice’s boyfriend takes her to Fort Goben as a birthday surprise. Again, this potential storyline is not developed in any depth or detail. Personally, I would happily have paid money to go and see a film just about Oliver and Ronny. Their Fight Club-esque reasons for being at the fort, and how they ended up working with Bernard, William and Stephen (the other - dramatically different - men at the fort), made, for me, the most compelling and intriguing story, but it was too diluted by the competing plotlines.

The setting of the film is also confused. Though the film never explicitly states where it is set, the ‘police force’ that Le Saint joins and the ‘small town’ Alice speaks of seem to be American, both visually and in the way people talk about them. However, the ‘abandoned fort’ is quite obviously nineteenth-century European. In fact, Fort Goben is a real fort – Fort de Queuleu in Metz, which was named Fort Goben by the occupying German forces during WWII. The building is so obviously a European WWI/WWII fortification that it makes it difficult to reconcile this with the American ‘cops’ in the rest of the film. It’s a beautiful location though, and if The Hunters did nothing else, it made me want to visit Fort de Queuleu.

Finally, the direction… again, this was a bit of a jumble. There were some fantastic shots and set-pieces. When Le Saint is confronted by the reality of what has been happening at the fort, there is an extraordinary sequence (no spoilers) that is possibly the film’s high-spot. However, other sequences, such as Le Saint’s flashbacks to his war experiences, are more lacklustre and some scenes are overlong.

Ultimately, The Hunters is a reasonable debut indie film with a great premise and some decent acting. It didn’t blow us away, but it wasn’t the worst film we’ve seen recently.

But the fact remains that it is not the film described in the blurb. There are no high school kids, no group of six friends, and no ‘adventure turned bloody’. At first, we just had a laugh about this and assumed that either the Netflix summary had been written by someone who hadn’t seen the film, or that the synopsis had been switched with another by mistake.

But then I watched the trailer for The Hunters on imdb. Watch this video, bearing in mind what I’ve said about the film’s plotlines…

Erm… what?? The trailer is made up almost exclusively of scenes from the end of the film – when Alice and her boyfriend arrive at the fort. There is no mention of Oliver and Ronny – though there are a couple of shots of Ronny interacting with the couple – and no hint of the (main) storyline involving Le Saint. The trailer even adds a plotline that isn’t even in the film: ‘they wanted the perfect escape’. And, of course, the trailer’s most blatant lie is the recasting of Dianna Agron (who has around 15-20 minutes of screen-time overall) as the ‘star’. This is carried on with the DVD cover. The image at the top of this post is the film’s original poster; here is the DVD cover:

Woah… what’s with the massive image of Alice’s face? Why is she dominating the cover? Worse, why does the back of the DVD case have this blurb (which is complete fiction)?
“Alice and her friends are approaching the end of the school year where their dead-end lives will end and the chance of a new life will begin. Before heading off to college they spend one last day together in the woods, the one part of town that has always been off limits to them growing up. As they stumble upon what they thought was an abandoned fort only to find the walls dripping in blood and decomposing body parts lying around, they are startled to learn they are now a part of an undercover investigation. After being told to get out of the woods they realize they're trapped, for the Hunters, who call the fort home, never let anyone out alive.”
I repeat: complete fiction.

And that’s when I paid a bit more attention to the dates, and everything started to make sense. The Hunters was released in 2011, with distribution by Lionsgate. I’ve listened to enough indie filmmakers to know that there was a good chance that distribution didn’t come straightaway, and that there may have been a gap between the film being made and its DVD release. Sure enough, the film’s website reveals that it was filmed in 2009, edited and taken around festivals in early 2010.

When Dianna Agron was cast in the minor role of Alice, she was an unknown actress who’d had a few TV roles (Heroes, Veronica Mars, CSI, Numb3rs). The original promo trailer for the film reflects this:

But what happened shortly after Agron shot her scenes for The Hunters? She landed a role in Glee. Suddenly, this little, low-budget indie flick could link itself to one of the biggest phenomena on US TV. And, of course, the first season of Glee had already aired by the time The Hunters saw the light of DVD-day, so it could bank on the new legion of Quinn Fabray fans looking out for Agron’s other work.

I don’t know if I want to blame the filmmakers for this. The original trailer and promo reel, made to take around festivals and send to distributors, is a perfectly honest ‘teaser’ of the film. Their website, while praising Agron’s work in Glee, is far from a cash-in on the actress’s new-found fame. My suspicion is that we have the distributors to thank for this – aside from the prominence of Alice, the main difference between the two trailers is the word ‘Lionsgate’ across the screen. The ‘honest’ trailer was made prior to distribution; the Dianna Agron one made after a deal had been signed (and I have no idea whether that deal was, in part, helped by Agron’s casting in Glee). So what we have is a cynical, corporate attempt to cash in on an actor’s later work by repackaging an earlier film with blatant dishonesty.

And if you still don’t think there’s anything tacky about this, consider the revision of Alice’s age. Both the Netflix summary and the DVD case claim that Alice and her friends are just finishing high school and about to go to college. This is not the case at all. Alice is clearly in her early twenties, and she and her boyfriend dress and act like young professionals, rather than college kids. Agron was 23 when she made this film, and is playing a character her own age. But, as soon as she was cast in Glee (also at the age of 23), Agron became known for playing a teenager, a high school cheerleader, and so the marketing for The Hunters recast her character as a school-leaver – regardless of the fact that this isn’t true.

Ultimately, The Hunters is an indie thriller and a directorial debut, and had we watched it at a film festival we would have considered it a decent addition to the programme. As a Netflix recommendation of an evening, it really wasn’t bad. But the film itself is completely overshadowed by the absolutely shameless marketing strategy.

And the sad part? We would've watched the film based on the original synopsis and trailer anyway - in fact, it sounds a hell of a lot less cliched than the Agron-heavy one.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

CFP: Death and Decay

This call for papers invites submissions from Postgrads or Early Career Researchers on the subject of ‘Death and Decay’ for the third edition of HARTS + Minds, an online journal for students of the Humanities and Arts, which is due to be published online in Winter 2013-14.

All submissions should adhere to the guidelines available on our website and should be sent with an academic CV to the editors by Friday 4th October.

We accept:

- Articles: Send us an abstract (300 words) and your article (no longer than 6000 words) using the article template available on our website.

- Book Reviews: Between 1000 and 1500 words on an academic text that deals with the theme of Death and Decay in some respect. This would preferably be interdisciplinary, but we will accept reviews of subject specific texts.

- Exhibition Reviews: Between 1000 and 1500 words on any event along the lines of an art exhibition, museum collection, academic event or conference review that deals with the theme of Death and Decay in some respect.

- Creative Writing Pieces: Original poetry (up to 3 short or 1 long) or short stories of up to 6,000 words.

Subjects may include but are not limited to the following:

- Medical Humanities (e.g. parasites, disease, autopsy, the cadaver)

- Rituals and rites of the dead in various cultures, Burial practices

- Death and dying in global literatures

- Visual Death; in art, photography, illustration, in film and television, on stage

- Death personified: the Grim Reaper, Yama + Lord of Naraka, Hel, Hades etc.

- The geography of death; real or mythological

- Decay of buildings, bodies, nature, morals

- Reincarnation, immortality, Afterlife, textual afterlives, Eschatology

- The death of discourse, language, the author, God

- Death as taboo

- War and death

- The future of death in a posthuman world

- Hauntings, the undead, vampires, zombies

- The value of Death

- Dirt and debris, Wrecks and ruins, Flotsam and Jetsam

- Elegy, Obituary, the Funeral March, Eulogy

- Monuments, Memorials and the Archive

- Suicide, both literal and metaphorical

Please consider that HARTS + Minds is intended as a truly interdisciplinary journal and therefore esoteric topics will need to be written with a general academic readership in mind.

Further information can be found on the website and you can get updates on our journal on Facebook.

Co Chief Editors
Jen Baker and Daniel Evers

Monday, 12 August 2013

CFP: Little Horrors: Representations of the Monstrous Child

Book Project

Call for Chapters

Gone is the Victorian innocence of childhood. We have entered the age of the monstrous child, the little horror.

Each historical period can be seen to have prioritised a different facet of the child, the Victorian era idolised the innocence of the pre-pubescent child, the twentieth century the disaffected teenager, whilst the early twenty-first sems to be that of the monstrous child. Whilst global organisations such as UNICEF and Save the Children promote the sanctity of childhood as a fundamental human right, popular culture and empirical, sociological data would intimate something else. Here children are not configured as the wealth of the family and the community, but are seen as an economic burden, a luxury or even a parasite. Far from being the repository of all society holds dear about itself, the child becomes something at once uncontrollable and monstrous, not to be loved and cherished but feared and expelled. Whether supernatural or just plain wicked, the child becomes a liminal being caught outside of normalised categorization; not mature, not socilaised, not under the rule of law and not conforming to adult nostagia over what they should be.

Is there a relationship between the declining birth rate in the West and the increasing representation of children as an alien other? However, as witchcraft accusations against children in Africa and representations in the Asian horror film genre show, this is not just a Western phenomenon. So just what are the underlying reasons, if any? This volume aims to assemble the evidence from history, psychology, sociology, literature and media studies to map the extent and meaning of this representational development.

Topics to include:

- Witch children, witchcraft accusations against children, children using witchcraft accusations
- Magical children: children with magical or superhuman powers, the wunderkind
- Werewolves and other shapeshifters: children as animals
- Fairies and changelings: the folklore of strange children
- Undead children: vampires, zombies and others
- Ghosts and demonic children: children possessed, children as demons
- Child crime and culpability: moral evil and legal responsibility
- Monstrous children through history: physical deformity and mental health issues
- Children as embodiments of other aspects of supernatural horror
- The monstrous as a new role model for children
- Children as adults and adults as children
- Society and children and public and private spaces
- Immigration, post-colonialism and foreign adoption
- War children and child soldiers

A brief bio and abstract of circa 300 words should be sent to -

For literature and media studies: Simon Bacon
For history and social sciences: Leo Ruickbie

Deadline for abstracts: 1st September 2013

There's no project page as yet, but you'll find these same details here

Thursday, 1 August 2013

OUT NOW: Impossible Spaces (Hic Dragones, 2013)

edited by Hannah Kate


It doesn’t have to be this way…

Sometimes the rules can change. Sometimes things aren’t how they appear. Sometimes you can just slip through the cracks and end up… somewhere else. What else is there? Is there somewhere else, right beside you, if you could only reach out and touch it? Or is it waiting to reach out and touch you?

Don’t trust what you see. Don’t trust what you hear. Don’t trust what you remember. It isn’t what you think.

A new collection of twenty-one dark, unsettling and weird short stories that explore the spaces at the edge of possibility.

For more information about the book, please visit the publisher's website.


Introduction by Hannah Kate
The Carrier by Daisy Black
Trading Flesh by Simon Bestwick
Etherotopia by Christos Callow Jr.
Mistfall by Jeanette Greaves
The Return of the Curse by Arpa Mukhopadhyay
I'd Lock it with a Zipper by Rachel Yelding
Nepenthes by Keris McDonald
Mindswitch by Chris Galvin Nguyen
Skin Laura Brown
Sharpened Senses by Richard Freeman
The Place of Revelation by Ramsey Campbell
Great Rates, Central Location by Hannah Kate
The Meat House by Maree Kimberley
The Voice Withn by Steven K. Beattie
Shadow by Margrét Helgadóttir
Unfamiliar by Almira Holmes
The Hostel by Nancy Schumann
New Town by Jessica George
Multiplicity by Douglas Thompson
Bruises by Tej Turner
Looking for Wildgoose Lodge by Tracy Fahey


CFP: Un/making Mistake in Medieval Media (Kalamazoo, 2014)

Organizers: Barbara M. Eggert (Humboldt University, Berlin) and Christine Schott (Erskine College, South Carolina)

Errare humanum est – and just as today, errors and mistakes occurred in every field of medieval culture, concerning the sacred and the secular sphere alike.

During the Holy Mass, priests lost focus, words were omitted from liturgical texts, wine got spilled on sacred garments - and there were texts, of course, telling you how to deal with these failings, how to unmake these mistakes. In the legal context, mistakes of law or fact could have a vital influence on the sentence – therefore, following the Roman Law, errors and mistakes were categorized, classed, and addressed in legal texts. While scholars of medieval arts usually focus on the craftsmanship of the artifacts, errors and mistakes of a different nature are to be found in any genre; some of them, like flaws in pottery, obviously happened accidentally; others, like portraits of figures with two left hands, belong to the category of deliberate mistakes.

As a follow-up of the questions raised in the session Un/making Mistakes in Medieval Manuscripts (Kalamazoo 2013), the purpose of this session is to examine errors and mistakes and the "corrections" thereof from different angles: On the one hand, the sessio_nFocuses on theory by analyzing how medieval scholars of different fields defined error and mistake and the consequences these phenomena could have. What mistakes mattered, and in what context – and (how) could they be corrected? On the other hand, the session is dedicated to the material aspects of error, that is the exploration of mistakes in medieval artifacts. It invites paper proposals from both scholars of text as well as scholars of images of any genre (manuscripts, textiles, stained glass windows, etc.) that explore the nature of errors, mistakes, and obscurities in medieval media as well as the “corrections” thereof to gain insight into the contemporary assumptions about what a particular medium should look like.

The session welcomes papers from all disciplines.

Please send your abstract, along with a short CV and the paper proposal form (which you can download here) to Barbara M. Eggert and Christine Schott by September 1, 2013.