Session Title

Imagined Encounters (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies

Organizer Name

Eileen A. Joy

Organizer Affiliation

BABEL Working Group

Presider Name

Roland Betancourt

Presider Affiliation

Yale Univ.

Paper Title 1

After Life

Presenter 1 Name

Amy Knight Powell

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Irvine

Paper Title 2

The Iconic Subconscious

Presenter 2 Name

Maria Taroutina

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Yale-NUS College

Paper Title 3

(Re)imagining Encounters between Late Antique Viewers and the Earliest Images of Christ

Presenter 3 Name

Adam Levine

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Toledo Museum of Art

Paper Title 4

Occupying the Margins

Presenter 4 Name

Holly R. Silvers

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Minnesota State Univ.-Moorhead

Paper Title 5

Contingency / Display

Presenter 5 Name

Christopher Lakey

Presenter 5 Affiliation

Johns Hopkins Univ./Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies

Paper Title 6

Babel and Camille

Presenter 6 Name

Samuel Ray Jacobson

Presenter 6 Affiliation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Start Date

9-5-2014 10:00 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1140

Description

José Saramago’s "History of the Siege of Lisbon" (1989) is structured around the act of a transgressive proofreader who out of boredom and frustration alters the course of history with the insertion of the word “not” in a historical text. By negating a crucial statement in the narrative, the proofreader then sets out to rewrite the history of the siege. The proofreader’s journey imagines the possible and emergent worlds that were produced through the negation of a historical given. As such, the negation of fact, the suspension of disbelief, and the agency of the historical text-as-a-text bring to the forefront the manner in which errors, mistakes, failures, disavowals, or mere ignorance of so-called facts can in fact be more generative as a discursive space than the rigorous adherence to established bodies of academic knowledge.

Medievalists must often reconstruct the nature of their objects and audiences in order to produce narratives on visual and literary interactions with their communities, patrons, and artists. Through the survey and close scrutiny of primary sources, cultures of reception and creation are articulated and experiences with objects and texts are interpolated. As such, medievalists operate within an infinite list of assertions and negations that define the possibility of certain inquiries and narratives. Nevertheless, such processes are deeply imaginative and creative endeavors by virtue of taking fragments of information to construct congruent models or theses of past experiences or conditions. The various sources used to construct such arguments, however, are rarely immediately contingent and as such this process operates on the reading or experiencing of a text or an object through the lens of a body of knowledge, inherently exterior to the object of study. Despite this intervallic space, the legitimacy and accuracy of such studies hinge upon the commitment to their temporal and spatial contingencies.

This panel proposes to conduct business as usual, but seizes this interval as a trope for slashing together bodies of knowledge and objects from differing spatial and temporal contexts. Such anachronistic encounters enact sites of critical resistance that operate within the same processes of imaginative and discursive (re)constructions, which a scholar deploys to produce any historical narrative. The “imagined encounter” encourages the scholar to produce scholarship that is socially motivated, rooted in the concerns of their personal present, while still generating a discursive space for critical feedback between the two entities being slashed together – beyond the positivism of mere cross-temporal analogy or the passing comparison. To put it simply: this panel urges the suspension of disbelief and the negation of historical ‘givens’ in order to construct imagined encounters between medieval things or peoples and other things or people from radically different spaces or times. This method can be used to resolve dead ends in a research project, smooth past missing sources, or imagine alternative narratives to stifling realities that are more detrimental than conducive to free thought and discourse. Papers presented on this panel will be published in a special issue of postmedieval, edited by Roland Betancourt (Yale University, History of Art), forthcoming in 2016.

Eileen A. Joy

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May 9th, 10:00 AM

Imagined Encounters (A Roundtable)

Schneider 1140

José Saramago’s "History of the Siege of Lisbon" (1989) is structured around the act of a transgressive proofreader who out of boredom and frustration alters the course of history with the insertion of the word “not” in a historical text. By negating a crucial statement in the narrative, the proofreader then sets out to rewrite the history of the siege. The proofreader’s journey imagines the possible and emergent worlds that were produced through the negation of a historical given. As such, the negation of fact, the suspension of disbelief, and the agency of the historical text-as-a-text bring to the forefront the manner in which errors, mistakes, failures, disavowals, or mere ignorance of so-called facts can in fact be more generative as a discursive space than the rigorous adherence to established bodies of academic knowledge.

Medievalists must often reconstruct the nature of their objects and audiences in order to produce narratives on visual and literary interactions with their communities, patrons, and artists. Through the survey and close scrutiny of primary sources, cultures of reception and creation are articulated and experiences with objects and texts are interpolated. As such, medievalists operate within an infinite list of assertions and negations that define the possibility of certain inquiries and narratives. Nevertheless, such processes are deeply imaginative and creative endeavors by virtue of taking fragments of information to construct congruent models or theses of past experiences or conditions. The various sources used to construct such arguments, however, are rarely immediately contingent and as such this process operates on the reading or experiencing of a text or an object through the lens of a body of knowledge, inherently exterior to the object of study. Despite this intervallic space, the legitimacy and accuracy of such studies hinge upon the commitment to their temporal and spatial contingencies.

This panel proposes to conduct business as usual, but seizes this interval as a trope for slashing together bodies of knowledge and objects from differing spatial and temporal contexts. Such anachronistic encounters enact sites of critical resistance that operate within the same processes of imaginative and discursive (re)constructions, which a scholar deploys to produce any historical narrative. The “imagined encounter” encourages the scholar to produce scholarship that is socially motivated, rooted in the concerns of their personal present, while still generating a discursive space for critical feedback between the two entities being slashed together – beyond the positivism of mere cross-temporal analogy or the passing comparison. To put it simply: this panel urges the suspension of disbelief and the negation of historical ‘givens’ in order to construct imagined encounters between medieval things or peoples and other things or people from radically different spaces or times. This method can be used to resolve dead ends in a research project, smooth past missing sources, or imagine alternative narratives to stifling realities that are more detrimental than conducive to free thought and discourse. Papers presented on this panel will be published in a special issue of postmedieval, edited by Roland Betancourt (Yale University, History of Art), forthcoming in 2016.

Eileen A. Joy