Call for Papers – “Middle English Science”

“Middle English Science”
Sponsored by the MLA Division on Middle English Literature (Excluding Chaucer) MLA 2015, Vancouver

Medieval science was much more trans- and anti-disciplinary than our contemporary definitions of the hard sciences. In addition to the categories of the trivium and the quadrivium, medieval science (like alchemy, for instance) could be imaginative, magical, and often took on visual forms that relied on multiply signifying representational systems. These texts offer potentially efficacious responses to the limitations placed on the humanities in general, and medieval literature in particular, by intervening in the “two cultures” debates. Presentations of these sciences in Middle English texts are complex and varied.

We seek papers that address the forms, production, consumption, and articulation of science in Middle English texts.

Papers might consider the following: what counts as science in Middle English writing; how science both is and defines knowledge; the forms and genres that science-writing assumes; literary science; attitudes toward scientific or technological innovation; representations of scientific making or technologies of knowledge production; scientific certainty; the aesthetics of science; taxonomies and nature; perception and insight; the quarrel over universals; the relationship between Latinate and vernacular approaches to science; translations of science across geography and time.

Papers must be deliverable in 20 minutes. Please send proposals by March 5, 2014 to Erin Labbie at and Shannon Gayk at

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