Scholars inside and outside of Anglo-Saxon studies have begun to question anthropocentric views of the world. New paradigms suggest that the boundaries among humans, animals, and things are not a priori and absolute; Giorgio Agamben, for instance, writes in The Open: Man and Animal that the division between human and animal is a division within the human (which is also animal) that makes possible the very concept of the human; in the last two decades, work on cyborgs showed that humans and things could also share identities. Scholars have also begun to make room for the existence of animals and things outside of human signification and identification; those in animal studies have alerted us to the suffering of animals, while proponents of thing theory tell us that things have their own forms of being, their own capabilities, and even (perhaps) affects proper to them. Karl Steel, Susan Crane, and Bruce Holsinger are only a few scholars who have taken up these difficult and exciting subjects within Anglo-Saxon studies.
This year’s ASSC Graduate Conference, to be held at NYU, takes as its theme"Humans/Animals/Things”, with particular attention to how these categories are shaped and to objects and beings that challenge these categorizations. We intend to discover common ground and points of connection in a broad range of work. As such, we invite papers that use a range of theoretical and disciplinary approaches to one or all of the following: humans, animals, things. For instance, papers on "things” could approach medieval objects such as books, figurines, and bones through lenses ranging from object-oriented ontology and thing theory to archaeology and manuscript studies. They might also address the blurred boundaries among humans, animals, and things when non-sentient objects (such as books, figurines, and bones) are derived from or represent living beings.
Potential areas of investigation may include:
Anglo-Saxon things (books, figurines, bones, etc.)
Anglo-Saxon relationships with animals and things
Hybrids (monsters, bones as human and thing, etc.)
Textual images in manuscripts
The body, as human or other
Anglo-Saxon interaction with environment (landscape, seascape, etc.)
Please submit 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers by January 1, 2013. Please include academic affiliation, e-mail address, street address, phone number, and audio-visual requirements. Abstracts may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizational Committee: Mo Pareles (co-chair), Dan Remein, Carla Thomas (co-chair), Jo Livingstone, and Emile Young
Co-sponsored by: Medieval and Renaissance Center, New York University
For other ASSC events and for further updates on this conference, please visit the ASSC website at http://english.columbia.edu/assc. To join our email list please email ASSC@columbia.edu.