CFP: On Materiality and the Virtual (a virtual symposium), NYU University, deadline April 15, 2020

Following on last year’s theme Out of Place / Out of Time, the Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Interdisciplinary Network (MARGIN) is proud to announce the theme of our 2020 MARGIN Symposium: Materiality and the Virtual. The Symposium will take place virtually via Zoom on May 1. A link for the symposium will be sent out closer to time.

Inspired by two separate threads in contemporary theory, this year MARGIN will consider both separately and in dialogue notions of materiality and of the virtual. Theoretical investigations in posthumanism and new materialisms have sparked a reconsideration of the text and the art object, focusing on the agency of matter and theorizing new virtual spaces. Moreover, much recent work in medieval and early modern material culture studies has borrowed methods and concepts from the fields of memory studies and cognitive science to understand the quasi-physical, imaginative spaces of texts/objects. At the same time, the phenomenon of the virtual pilgrimage has emerged as a major subject of interest, shedding new light on the relationship between embodiment and place. Likewise, the global turn in medieval and early modern studies has stressed the virtual dimension of maps and travelogues, and of the cartographic imagination in conceiving of geographic and physical space, as well as delineating between self and “other.”

This recent spate of scholarly interest calls on us to examine more closely the ways the material and the virtual converge and overlap. With this year’s theme (which is intentionally broad), we hope to enrich and expand upon much recent discussion of materiality in medieval and early modern studies through its juxtaposition with pre- and early modern notions of the virtual or immaterial — and with contemporary aspects of virtuality. Graduate students at all levels are encouraged to submit abstracts for formal presentations of 12–15 minutes. Graduate students doing work on non-Western material are highly encouraged to submit.

Submissions may focus on topics including, but not limited to:
● Manuscript Studies / book history
● Medieval visionary experience and mystical literature
● Technologies of virtual reality in the Middles Ages and Renaissance
● Renaissance and medieval cartographic practices
● Current technologies of virtual reality applied to contemporary medieval and early modern scholarship / digital humanities
● Medieval image theory / simulation and simulacra
● Early modern and medieval theories of matter, perception, and the senses
● Historical materialism; labor and capital in the medieval and early modern periods
● Travel writing and pilgrimage literature; “virtual” pilgrimage and the material culture of pilgrimage
● Medieval music theory, transcription practices, and liturgy

Please send a short abstract (150-250 words) of your proposed talk to no later than April 15.


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