Call for Papers – “Says who? Contested Spaces, Voices, and Texts”

University of California, Santa Barbara Medieval Studies
Annual Graduate Student Conference

May 18, 2013
University of California, Santa Barbara

Call for Papers: “Says who? Contested Spaces, Voices, and Texts”
Keynote Speaker: Professor Steven Justice, Department of English, UC Berkeley

Since Henri Lefebvre’s 1958 The Social Production of Space, medieval scholars have increasingly been interested in the interplay between the political, the economic, and the cultural with the concept of physical space. How is space constructed by social forces, and how is society influenced by either physical or ideological spaces? More specifically among these social forces, our conference focuses on the concept of authority: who gets to say how political, cultural, and economic processes take place within a specific space, and how they are spoken of, written of, and remembered? Conversely, how might speaking itself be a form of resistance against authority? We encourage interdisciplinary discourse around the theme of authority in any aspect(s) of law, culture, and society in the Middle Ages. For example, how do kings maintain authority over their subjects, and how is this authority constructed or contested? How do writers establish the authority of their texts, and why do they even need to? How was God’s authority sometimes challenged or undermined? Or was it?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
•    war as a means of contesting spaces or territories
•    winners and losers: who gets to tell the story?
•    public versus private space: who controls and defines these spaces and how?
•    God as the ultimate authority: religious discourses and conflicts
•    establishing authorship, auctoritas, and differing roles in the creation of oral narratives, manuscripts, or printed editions
•    alteration of texts (by scribes, commentators, or translators, for example) as a means of contesting authority and asserting one’s power
•    linguistics: code-switching or language use as contesting authority or asserting one’s power or independence
•    process and performance of speech as constructing or resisting authority (such as in court culture, pageantry, or parliament)
•    use of heraldic motifs (how were they used or changed?) in books
•    patronage as a form of contestation or affirmation of one’s power
•    gendered spaces and voices: women patrons, women’s vs. men’s roles
•    the creation, use, and transformation of urban spaces

The conference is open to graduate students studying the Middle Ages (300-1500) in all disciplines, geographical regions, and stages of research.

We welcome 250- to 300-word abstracts for presentations 20 minutes in length. Please submit your name, email, university, and departmental affiliation with your abstract to Anneliese Pollock ( by February 15, 2013.

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