Click on each of the links above to navigate to that particular page.
About the Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Sasmars aims to promote scholarly interest and research in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Southern Africa and further afield. Its biennial conferences provide a forum for academics and senior students to present their work in congenial surroundings. The Society's journal, The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, is a peer-reviewed publication which is accredited for South African research subsidy purposes. The SASMARS Newsletter has grown beyond our wildest expectations and has attracted the attention of scholars from all over the world. As a result, our 20th biennial conference in 2010 attracted the largest group of international delegates ever and served to forge important links between international scholars and their Southern African counterparts.

It has become a tradition to invite the keynote speakers at our conferences to become Corresponding Fellows of the Society and we are proud to acknowledge the following in that capacity:

Professors Jerry Brotton, Gordon Campbell, Sheila Delany, Roberta Frank, Helen Fulton, Alexandra Johnston, Susannah Monta, Edward Muir, Chris Wickham, and Henry Woudhuysen.

The latest addition to this list is Professor Carolyn Dinshaw, who was the keynote speaker at the 23nd biennial conference held at Mont Fleur in August 2016.


Number 3, 2009

It's CFP season! This issue includes the following:

1. A number of calls for papers posted recently to various websites and discussion forums

2. Books and Journals

3. News from the Royal Historical Society Bibliography, Irish History Online AND London's Past Online

4. News in brief

Calls for Papers

CFP: SASMARS 2010, Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Afterlives: Survival and Revival

We are pleased to announce that the 20th Biennial Conference of the Southern African Society of Medieval and Renaissance Studies will be held at Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, South Africa, on 2-5 September 2010.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Alexandra F. Johnston, Ph.D., FRSC, Past President of the Academy of the Royal Society of Canada.

Call for Papers
The theme of the Conference is "Afterlives: Survival and Revival". In an effort to facilitate a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary conversation, we encourage scholars working in any discipline to submit abstracts addressing this theme. The conference theme is designed to promote reflection on appropriations, adaptations and continuities in cultural production. A selection of the papers presented at the conference will be published in a special issue of The Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (accredited for South African research subsidy purposes).
Suggested topics include, but are by no means limited to:
• new ways of looking at old texts
• textual appropriation and imitation
• textual transmission
• translation
• cross-currents in word and image
• ideological appropriation
• political myth creation
• archaeological recovery
• ethnicities    
• retrospection
• life writing
• history of   music/art/theatre

Please send proposals (250-300 words) for 20-minute papers to the convenor, Michael Bratchel ( ), by 31 January 2010. Professor M Bratchel, Department of History, University of the Witwatersrand, JOHANNESBURG 2050, South Africa.

Shakespeare Connects Us

On October 2-3, 2009, the English Department at Grand Valley State University (Allendale and Grand Rapids, Michigan) will be hosting an innovative Shakespeare conference that aims to bring together scholars, secondary educators and performers. The main focus of this conference will be to establish cross-disciplinary communication that will enrich the learning of all who attend.
The Shakespeare Connects Conference keynote speaker will be Curt Tofteland, the founder and former artistic director of Shakespeare Behind Bars. Curt is a lifelong Shakespearian actor and director; in his work with the inmates of Kentucky's Luther Luckett prison he facilitated their discovery of Shakespeare's work, and though their performances, their discovery of themselves. The conference will also feature two performances: The Grand Valley State University Shakespeare Festival play Romeo and Juliet and Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company's production of Twelfth Night.

Call for Papers, Presentations, and Performances

*Scholarly Papers: We invite abstracts for 20-minute paper presentations or full panels of three papers on topics related to the plays and poetry of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's cultural context, the performance of Shakespeare's works from Elizabethan England until today, and the teaching of Shakespeare's works at the secondary and collegiate level.
*Performance Workshops: We invite proposals for teaching or performance presentations to be presented in a 90 minute format. These presentations may include, but are not limited to: performances of scenes from Shakespeare accompanied by commentary on issues in performance; actor training workshops; presentation of set, costume, or lighting designs accompanied by commentary on issues in design for Shakespeare; scholarly paper presentations accompanied by performance of scenes in support of the papers' theses; comparison of staging options for scenes from Shakespeare, accompanied by commentary on textual cues to performance.
*Teaching Demonstration: Teachers and professors of Shakespeare are invited to share their most effective strategies for bringing the bard to life in the contemporary classroom. A teaching demonstration might include modeling an innovative approach, discussing a new methodology, sharing useful resources, or posing a pedagogical question. Proposals may be submitted individually or collaboratively with up to four total presenters.
*High School Drama Competition: Teachers may also encourage their students (grades 9-12) to participate in a drama competition.
Participants (group or individual) will perform a Shakespearean monologue or scene for response and critique. Winners will receive cash prizes and a commemorative plaque of achievement. Further information available on the conference site.
Abstracts and proposals should be no more than 300 words and are accepted on a rolling basis through August.
All proposals may be submitted via the conference website at
For more information, please see the website or contact Dr. Rachel Anderson (


Capital and Corporal Punishment in Anglo-Saxon England

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI, 13-16 May 2010,  AND
International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, Leeds UK, 12-15 July 2010

Execution, mutilation, and bodily punishment were prominent elements of Anglo-Saxon judicial practice. In addition to the Old English law codes that prescribed death and mutilation for criminal offenders, physical penalties figured prominently in biblical exegesis and theological discourse, in hagiographical and literary texts, in works of art, and in the archaeology of the pre-Conquest landscape. These sessions will offer an interdisciplinary investigation of the role of capital and corporal punishment in Anglo-Saxon England. We seek papers that consider the legal, practical, theological, and ethical considerations that surrounded the sentencing of offenders. Explorations of individual penalties, specific texts, artistic or archaeological evidence, or the wider context of physical punishment are also welcome.

We are accepting proposals for twenty-minute papers for either conference.

Please submit abstracts by 15 September to: Jay Paul Gates,

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Dept. of English, Room 730, 619 W. 54th St., New York, NY 10019.

Organizers: Jay Paul Gates and Nicole Marafioti

CFPs for the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, May 13-16, 2010

Deadline 1 September 2009 (unless another date is specified in the CFP)
Teaching off the Grid
The Promise and Perils of Using Non-Canonical Texts in the Classroom

Canonicity is an increasingly embattled concept, and the lists of what texts are considered canonical for the medieval and early modern period are constantly growing. Despite this, every medievalist and early modernist can name at least three (and probably more) interesting or important texts that are considered non-canonical. This is not surprising. However open the canon seems, it is, by nature, exclusive and necessarily omits some texts. Many texts that have long been known to exist have, for one reason or another, simply not received the study that inclusion in the canon seems to require. Recently found texts, however significant they might be, face a similar obscurity and lack of attention.
Texts that, for one reason or another, are left out of what is currently considered the canon are often promising for use in the classroom. However, practical difficulties including departmental requirements, a lack of suitable editions, and the absence of pedagogical discussion about these texts often hampers their inclusion in our classes.
This session will attempt to remedy this dearth of discussion by exploring the pedagogical issues surrounding non-canonical texts of the medieval and early modern periods. Short (10-15 min.) papers will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of teaching non-canonical texts; approaches to teaching specific non-canonical texts; what unique insights non-canonical texts offer students; student reactions to non-canonical works; what we might lose by introducing non-canonical texts into our classrooms; and other topics with a pedagogical focus. The session will attempt to avoid papers which debate the canonicity of any particular text.
Please send proposals of no more than 300 words to Gina Brandolino ( and Nate Smith ( by September 15.


Aurality and Literacy: Textual Audiences in Late Medieval England, a session sponsored by Saint Louis University's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Late medieval England existed at the liminal spaces of media - within, without, and between oral, chirographic, and typographic "texts." All of these media played important roles in creating linguistic works of art and in fashioning the communities and audiences of those works.
Originators of such narratives, remembrances, complaints, lyrics, prophecies, and other works (whether oral or written) might have had various communities or audiences in mind - both the aural and the literate - and frequently their works spoke to these varying audiences in different manners, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This session will provide the opportunity for panelists to explore potential and real audiences of the works created in late medieval England. Papers might explore the supposed "popularity" of certain texts, the possible audiences for specific texts, the possible affect and effect of the works on a particular audience, and how the perceived or real aural or literate reception of texts affected the creation, circulation, interpretation, and memory of those texts.
Please send one-page abstracts no later than September 15, 2009, to the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University at, or directly to


Saints of the Heroic Age and Today, a session sponsored by The Heroic Age (

The Heroic Age organizes a session that investigates which saints from early North-Western Europe in the early medieval period (roughly defined as between the 4th and the 13th century) still cling to life. Some of those saints, like St. Boniface and St. Wilfrid, still have a cult that continues to attract believers and scholars; others, such as St. Rabanus Maurus, cling somewhat tenaciously to life; many seem completely forgotten (Wikipedia lists 155 Anglo-Saxon saints, many of whom are unknown to modern believers and even to many scholars).
We are interested in probing which factors allow a saint to continue to live--personality, historical significance, written documentation of their life and works--and what it means for an old saint to still enjoy modern interest, that is, whether and how cults and personalities are adapted to fit different time periods.
Please send 300-word abstracts and a completed Participant Information Form
 to Michel Aaij at, by 1 September 2009.
MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application) is sponsoring two sessions at the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 13–16, 2010). The call for papers and the contact details for each session are below. All abstracts will also be made available for viewing on the MEARCSTAPA blog (

  • The Monstrous, the Marvelous, and the Miraculous
Much critical attention is currently being directed at the monstrous in the Middle Ages, but the category is, by its very nature, difficult to define. It bleeds at the edges into other fundamental categories, most notably the marvelous and the miraculous. On one end of this spectrum, we find horrifying, homophagic nightmares and, on the other, direct evidence for the power and mercy of God.
While these two extremes seem, at a glance, to have little in common, they both were marvelous, deserving and inspiring our wonder on account of lying outside of the realm of the everyday. Both were therefore viewed as signs of God's divinity and divine plan for the universe. In this session, we will interrogate the blurred boundaries between these richly ambiguous epistemological categories, not striving to artificially sharpen their boundaries but rather, seeking greater nuance in our understandings of all three.
Please send abstracts of 300 words, along with a completed Participant Information Form (, to Melissa Ridley-Elmes at by 1 September 2009.

  • Unexpected Monsters: Close Encounters of the Other Kind
Typically, in medieval imagination, monsters appear in liminal spaces, in spaces outside of the civilized realm of the court. In literature they might appear in the forests and deserts, or in the mountain ranges, while on medieval maps they might appear in peripheral spaces, in the uncharted regions on the edges of the world. In such instances, they often represent all that is other, different, dangerous... the unknown.
But what happens when the monster is local? Internal? This panel proposes to explore instances of unexpected monstrosity or otherness within medieval imaginings—instances of difference that occur at the level of the local and familiar, or within the self. Papers are invited that explore such interpretations of monstrosity within literature, art, and architecture (or in medieval culture at large).
Please send abstracts of 300 words, along with a completed Participant Information Form (, to Renée Ward at by 1 September 2009.

Plague and Famine: An Interdisciplinary View
Famines have long been associated with the two great historic plague pandemics: the plague of Justinian (541-c. 750) and the Black Death (14th century onwards). This session seeks papers that examine the interaction between famines and the plague specifically. Considering the two pandemics together opens new areas of research. The role of cattle epizootics adds an interesting third dimension to the environment of plague and famine that prevailed during both plague pandemics. Cattle epizootics, caused by unknown agents, alter human nutrition for years after the epizootic ends.
I am inviting submissions from historians, biologists, archaeologists, anthropologists and others to explore the interaction between plague and nutrition. Understanding plague dynamics will only come by exploring the complex interaction between plague and its environmental context that includes epizootics of domestic animals and human famines.

Submit your proposal and contact information to Michelle Ziegler at

The Middle English Gawain Romances (Excluding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

Deadline September 15, 2009
As the title of this session suggests, we will be focusing on the lesser known Middle English romances which feature Gawain. Although Thomas Hahn published his TEAMS edition of Sir Gawain: Eleven Romances and Tales in 1995, scholarship on these tales has been scarce in comparison to Malory or Pearl poet studies. This panel, therefore, seeks papers which explore the character of Gawain as he appears in the lesser known Middle English romances, particularly Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle, The Avowyng of Arthur, The Awntyrs off Arthur, The Knightly Tale of Gologras and Gawain, The Turke and Sir Gawain, and The Carle of Carlisle. Is there a consistent Gawain of the English? How do these romances advance current discussions of gender, post colonialism, and nationality?
Please submit an abstract for a 15-20 minute presentation, and a Participant Information Form (link below), by September 15, 2009 to Kristin Bovaird-Abbo at All panelists need to be members of the Medieval Association of the Midwest by May 2010 in order to participate. Participant Information Form:

Pearl-Poet at Kalamazoo 2010

Deadline September 15, 2009

The Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring the following five sessions at the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 13-16 May 2010 (Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo):

I. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Arthurian Tradition

II. Teaching the Pearl-Poet: Techniques for Survey Courses (Roundtable)

III. “Teccheles termes of talkyng noble”: Vows, Courtesy, and Social Interactions in the Pearl-Poems

IV. Touching the Heart: What Draws Us to the Pearl-Poet? (Panel Discussion)

V. The Post-Medieval Pearl-Poet: Contexts and Continuities of Cleanness, Patience, Pearl, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels, from graduate student to senior academic. Please submit a one-page abstract and the appropriate cover sheet to the desired session. Papers are to be no more than 20 minutes, and the deadline for submissions is September 15, 2009. Submissions and inquiries may be sent to

Adrienne J. Odasso, University of York, Centre for Medieval Studies, King’s Manor, Exhibition Square, York YO1 7EP, UNITED KINGDOM.

Mystical Bridges to Postmodernity: Toward a Critical Theology?
There’s nothing new under the sun—including this aphorism—though each generation seems to rediscover old thought-ways, contributing to them a rhetoric of novelty. This panel seeks to explore the ways in which critical philosophy of the past forty years has reduplicated and reconfigured the revelations of theology, especially (though not exclusively) mystical and contemplative theology. Discussions could range from the “negative theology” of the later Derrida to the mystical psychology of the Real in Lacan, or the scholasticism of structuralism.
The goal is not only to “apply” the current critical lexicon to theology, but to show how spiritual texts can meaningfully comment upon and enrich our experience of critical theory. Neither text in this sense need necessarily be “primary” or “secondary,” but each should seek to explore and expand the ideas of the other.
Submission Details: This panel will be a part of the 2010 International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo Michigan, May 13-16. Abstracts should be for papers twenty minutes in length and should be no longer than one page. Submit abstracts and a participant information form to Tim Asay at no later than September 15, 2009.

Participant Information Form:

This session seeks papers to discuss and analyze the literature, landscapes, history, and places of medieval East Anglia, as well as other relevant disciplines such as architecture, theology, ecology, geography, and sacred and profane spaces. Paper ideas will be accepted from all areas and periods, including Old English poetry, the outlaw sagas and other literature of the East Anglian fens, the historical records and chronicles of the region, the history of invasion from the European continent, female spiritual authors such as Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, the wool-driven economy, and the medieval architecture and urbanization of towns like Ely, Bury St. Edmonds, and Cambridge. Theoretical approaches of all kinds will be considered, with special recognition given to studies that examine the region using space and place theory, landscape and cultural studies, and eco-critical approaches. By crossing such genre and disciplinary boundaries this session hopes to begin envisioning the region in new ways and to reveal new insights on the history, literature, land, and people of medieval East Anglia.
This session is sponsored by the Saint Louis University Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Please submit a one-page abstract (for a fifteen or twenty minute presentation) and a Participant Information Form ( to Justin T. Noetzel at by September 15, 2009. Please also send an email with any relevant questions or comments. Any papers that will not be included in this session will be forwarded to the Congress Committee for possible inclusion in the General Sessions.
Teaching Medieval Studies at Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities

A Roundtable Co-Sponsored by NEH and JMIS
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies (JMIS) are jointly sponsoring a roundtable on "Teaching Medieval Studies at Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities" at the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 13-16, 2010.
In recent years, medievalists at high Hispanic- and African-American serving institutions have discussed both the negative difficulties and the positive challenges of offering medieval studies on their campuses. We have noted that students, especially minority ones, may perceive a lack of real connection to literatures, languages, and histories, that they do not feel they "own." There may be, therefore, challenges to maintaining enrollment in medieval courses at institutions with diverse student populations, and in keeping those courses in rotation in small colleges and universities. Conversely, the task of teaching medieval history and literature to minority students raises new and potentially productive intellectual questions: for instance, about the function of our disciplines in contemporary society, and about the social and ideological underpinnings of these disciplines in the past. The diversification of the classroom, in terms of both ethnicity and class, may destabilize old paradigms, and point towards new models of intellectual inquiry.
Topics covered by roundtable panelists could include (but are not limited to):

*How to attract students of diverse backgrounds to courses in medieval studies.
*How might we connect medieval texts to the scholarly concerns of African American, Latino, or diasporic studies?
*How do we increase students' interest in a historical period which appears superficially to be removed and irrelevant to contemporary concerns?
*How can we use this challenge to create opportunities for innovative teaching and research, for generating new paradigms and for rethinking the social function of the university?

Because this is a roundtable, participants may present a paper in another session. Speakers will likely have no more than 5-7 minutes each.

Submission Details: Please send a very brief abstract of approximately 100-150 words to James M. Palmer at by September 15, 2009. Along with a title for the presentation, please send a completed Participant Information Form, which can be found at:
James M. Palmer, PhD, Associate Professor of English, Prairie View A&M University, P.O. Box 519; MS 2220, Prairie View, TX 77446

Books and Journals

CALL for PAPERS: Florilegium, the journal of the Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des médiévistes,

invites papers on any aspect of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (including the post-medieval representation of the medieval period). Submissions should reach the editor by about the end of September 2009. Potential contributors need not be members of CSM/SCM. Submissions are refereed in a double-blind review by international and Canadian specialists. Papers must not contain any indication of authorship and must not be published or submitted elsewhere. Manuscripts should normally not exceed 9,000 words, including notes and bibliography, and should be formatted according to Chicago style. Please keep notes as spare as possible. Papers may be written in either English or French. All submissions will be acknowledged. Please include both email and postal addresses. Electronic submissions (in WordPerfect or MS Word) should be sent to the editor at Alternatively, hardcopy submissions (3 copies please) may be mailed to: Dr. A. E. Christa Canitz Editor, Florilegium Department of English University of New Brunswick 19 Macaulay Lane Fredericton, NB Canada E3B 5A3 .

Amazon offers rare books
Detroit - The University of Michigan said on Tuesday it is teaming up with Inc to offer reprints of 400 000 rare, out-of-print and out-of-copyright books from its library. Seattle-based Amazon's BookSurge unit will print the books on demand in soft cover editions at prices from $10 to $45.
More at
The University of California Press is pleased to announce the publication of:

Dissimulation and the Culture of Secrecy in Early Modern Europe
Jon R. Snyder is Professor of Italian Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has most recently published a bilingual edition of G.B. Andreini's 1622 comedy, Love in the Mirror, as well as a book on Baroque aesthetics, L'estetica del Barocco. _Full information about the book, including the table of contents, is available online:

News from the Royal Historical Society Bibliography, Irish History Online AND London's Past Online

The future of the Royal Historical Society Bibliography, Irish History Online and London's Past Online The way in which the RHS Bibliography and London's Past Online are published will change from 1 January 2010. The new service, under a new name - Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) - will be a partnership between the Royal Historical Society, the Institute of Historical Research and Brepols Publishers.

News in Brief

Studentship: Landscape and Rural Society in North Hampshire in the Middle Ages
Attention: masters students with interests in medieval local/regional history

There are a couple of funded PhD studentships at the University of Winchester, closing date 17 August, one of which is for the project below (see for details). Prospective candidates are welcome to contact me informally via email (
Landscapes and settlement in Northern Hampshire

This studentship will take a long view of the development and evolution of settlement and rural organisation in the under-studied area of northern Hampshire, roughly defined as the area north of Winchester, from the eighth century to the fifteenth century, broadly the period dominated by a manorial economy.

Medieval battle records go online

The detailed service records of 250,000 medieval soldiers - including archers who served with Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt - have gone online. The database of those who fought in the Hundred Years War reveals salaries, sickness records and who was knighted. The full profiles of soldiers from 1369 to 1453 will allow researchers to piece together details of their lives. More at

The Soldier in later Medieval England: An exciting new AHRC research project

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded a Research Grant worth just under £500,000 to Dr Adrian Bell of the ICMA Centre and Professor Anne Curry of the University of Southampton to challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453. More at

Roman ships' graveyard found
2009-07-23 18:06

Rome - A team of archaeologists using sonar technology to scan the seabed have discovered a "graveyard" of five pristine ancient Roman shipwrecks off the small Italian island of Ventotene. The trading vessels, dating from the first century BC to the fifth century AD, lie more than 100 metres underwater and are among the deepest wrecks discovered in the Mediterranean in recent years, the researchers said on Thursday. More at

What Did The Vikings Do Before They Began to Play Football?

By Anatoly Liberman

The first documented raid of the Vikings goes back to 793. For more than two centuries they were the terror of Europe. A good deal is known about their conquests, ships, and morals. The Old English chronicle and the sermons written at that time are full of heart breaking descriptions of the Norsemen’s cruelties. But the origin of the word Viking has not been explained to everybody’s satisfaction, though some progress has been made in recent years. To us the Vikings are Scandinavian sea robbers who looted the treasures of Europe, conquered great territories, and settled in England and France. Continue reading at

Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”