34th Annual Meeting: Southeastern Medieval Association

Bodies, Embodiments, Becomings

2-4 October 2008

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis, Missouri

[co-hosted by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Saint Louis University, and the BABEL Working Group, with organizing assistance from Washington University in Saint Louis]

I am a body in pieces, but even so, I am that whole, unifed bodily imago. (Jacques Lacan)

Plenary Speakers

Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, George Washington University (author and editor: Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages; The Postcolonial Middle Ages; Medieval Identity Machines; Thinking the Limits of the Body; Identity, Hybridity, Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: On Difficult Middles; and Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages: Archipelago, Island, England)

Steven F. Kruger, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center (author and editor: Queering the Middle Ages; AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction and Science; Dreaming in the Middle Ages; Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America; and The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe)

Featured Respondent

Amy Hollywood, Elizaberth H. Monrad Professor of Christian Studies, Harvard Divinity School (author of: The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart, a study of the body and gender in late medieval Christian mysticism, and Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History, on Georges Bataille, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, and Luce Irigaray and their fascination with excessive bodily and affective forms of Christian mysticism)

Special Exhibit

"What a Piece of Work is a Man -- Reading the Body in Medieval Manuscripts"

a special exhibit of manuscript facsimiles in six groupings: The Social Order, The Body Bared, Holy Bodies, The Body as Other, The Body in Pieces, and Bodies in the Margins

First Floor Foyer, Pius XII Memorial Library

Call for Papers

In his book Medieval Identity Machines, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen writes that we know the human body "is divisible into semidiscrete systems (nervous, digestive, circulatory, excretory, reproductive), but that these structures nevertheless form a bounded whole, a singular organism. The human body is therefore described as a marvel of God or of evolution, a system so autnomous from its environment that it can dream theology and science in order to envision how it came to be the culminating creation in a world of similarly distinct bodies and objects." But what if the body is less than this idealization and also "more than its limbs, organs, and flesh as traced by an anatomical chart"? What if it is "open and permeable," and what if "corporeality and subjectivity--themselves inseparable--potentially included both the social structures (kinship, nation, religion, race) and the phenomenal world (objects, gadgets, prostheses, animate and inanimate bodies of many kinds) across which human identity is spread?" Cohen urges us to see bodies as "sites of possibility" that are "necessarily dispersed into something larger, something mutable and dynamic, a structure of alliance and becoming," and which are always on the verge of escaping "the confines of somber individuality" in order to connect with other bodies and other worlds. Therefore, there is no "being," per se, only "becoming."

For the 34th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association, we invite paper and session proposals on any topic relative to the Middle Ages, but we especially encourage those proposals that address any and all aspects of the body, embodiment, and becoming in medieval arts and letters. Consider our definition of body to be wide open, to include human and nonhuman bodies, bodies of language and manuscripts and texts, bodies of history, bodies of knowledge, and bodies (of all types) as sites of transformation and possibility, of departures and arrivals, of enclosure and openness. Consider, also, if you will, the gendered body, the racialized body, the phenomenological body, the sexualized body, the colonial body, the medicalized body, the pathologized body, the animal body, the erotic body, the loving body, the spiritual body, the abnormal body, the medieval body, the communal body, the hybrid body, the post/human body, and so on. Consider the relationships between body and self-identity, between body and art, between body and mind, body and culture, body and technology, body and world, and so on. Consider, finally, the ways in which bodies and embodiment emerge out of historical times and spaces, and out of historical processes of becoming (coming-to-be through time and space).

Deadline for Submission: Friday, 30 May 2008 **extended to June 15**

Send Paper or Session Proposal Abstracts to:

Eileen Joy
Department of English
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
ejoy@siue.edu or eileenajoy@gmail.com

*As Eileen is mainly peripatetic these days, submissions must be made via email. Paper proposal abstracts should be in the neighborhood of 250-300 words, and should include contact information. For session proposals, a brief abstract (250-300 words) for the session, along with the titles of each included paper, plus information for each presenter and organizer (name, affiliation, contact information), will suffice.



Thursday, October 2nd

Friday, October 3rd

Saturday, October 4th

Conference T-Shirts (several varieties) are available through Zazzle.com [follow the 2nd link below for "BabelWorkingGroup" in order to view all of the t-shirt designs for the conference, and also to view t-shirts for the BABEL Working Group]:

Southeastern Medieval Association Meeting (2008) shirt
Southeastern Medieval Association Meeting (2008) by BabelWorkingGroup
Design a Customized Tee Shirt On zazzle


Hotel accommodations close to Saint Louis University have been arranged at the Water Tower Inn and the Parkway Hotel. Please identify yourself as a conference attendee when making your reservations (the group code at both hotels is "SEMA").

Rate of $79 per night single / double occupancy / Group ID# 1129
Reserve by 1 September to ensure conference rate

Rate of $114 per night single / double occupancy
Reserve by 1 September to ensure conference rate

*when reserving rooms online, you will need the Group ID# 1637 & Password 37001922


1. Billiken Shuttle Service: Saint Louis University runs a regular shuttle service Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. that has stops at the Busch Student Center (southside entrance at the corner of Laclede and Grand Avenues), the Metrolink station on Grand, and the Water Tower Inn/Salus Center (this is a loop route that starts at the top of the hour at the Busch Student Center and goes to Reinert Hall, the Metrolink station on the west side of Grand, Caroline and Theresa Streets, the Water Tower Inn/Salus Center, the School of Medicine, the Metrolink station on the east side of Grand, and back to the Busch Student Center, so plan accordingly). Conference participants staying at the Water Tower Inn should consider this their main mode of transportation on Thursday and Friday for both the sessions at the Busch Student Center and the two receptions. On Saturday, we have arranged for another van service to run between the Water Tower Inn, the Busch Student Center, and the MetroLink station on Grand Avenue between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. On Friday evening, after the banquet, we have arranged for a shuttle to run between the Busch Student Center, the Parkway Hotel, and the Water Tower Inn between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m.

2. The #70 MetroBus runs up and down Grand Avenue (where both the Water Tower Inn and the Busch Student Center are located). On Forest Park Avenue (where the Parkway Hotel is located) the #93 and #95 MetroBuses can take you to Grand Avenue, just one block south of the Busch Student Center (get on the bus on the same side of the street as the Parkway Hotel).

3. Metrolink: conference participants staying at the Parkway Hotel can take the Metrolink train (only 1-1/2 blocks from hotel) one stop to Grand Avenue, where they can then take the free Billiken Shuttle Service to the Busch Student Center (see above under #1; be sure to be on the east side of Grand Avenue). On Saturday, when the Billiken Shuttle Service is not running, we have arranged for another van service to run between the Water Tower Inn, the Busch Student Center, and the MetroLink station on Grand Avenue between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

4. Walking is not necessarily recommended, as it is a good mile between both hotels and the Busch Student Center (approximately 8 loooooooong city blocks), but for the Thoreauvian adventurers among you, either: 1) from the Water Tower Inn, walk due north on Grand Avenue until you get to the Busch Student Center at the corner of Grand and Laclede Avenues, OR, 2) from the Parkway Hotel, walk due east on Forest Park Boulevard until you get to Grand Avenue, turn left onto Grand, and the Busch Student Center will be one block north on your right at the corner of Grand and Laclede Avenues.

5. If you are driving your own car directly to campus, you can park in the Visitor section of either the Laclede Garage or Olive Garage ($1.50 per hour or $5.00 per day). Both garages are within 1-2 blocks of the Busch Student Center.



Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

City Museum

Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis

Forest Park

Jazz at the Bistro

Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri History Museum

Moolah Theater & Lounge

Opera Theater of Saint Louis

Pin-Up Bowl

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

Saint Louis Art Museum

Saint Louis University Museum of Art

Saint Louis Science Center

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

Sheldon Concert Hall