Call for Papers, Kalamazoo 2016: “Erratic Letters” & “Kinky Grammar”

The Grammar Rabble will sponsor two roundtable session at the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies, at the University of Western Michigan, May 12–15, 2016. We are seeking short paper proposals on the following topics:

Erratic Letters

In geology, an ‘erratic’ stone is one that does not match the stones surrounding it, one that seems to have wandered in from another place. This panel would consider the ‘erratic’ letter—the letter that has failed to be pinned down, failed to maintain a constant materiality, or failed to keep its materiality in a persistent location. This session will seize upon such erratic letters—perhaps the letter transposed or misread by the copyist, perhaps the letter from a foreign alphabet unexpectedly placed in a new context—as a Lucretian ‘swerve’, a moment when the text becomes alive to new interpretive possibilities.

Kinky Grammar

Medieval European grammar was commonly associated with the straight line, as in John of Salisbury’s explanation of the etymon grama; grammatical rectilinearity was further associated with an understanding of sexual orthopraxy, or (in modern words) being “straight”. So how do we understand medieval examples of grammar that defy the logic of straight lines? What do we make of kinky grammar in the Middle Ages? Where do kinks, bends, and joints divert a linear conception of grammar, and what could be done with them? From the erotic grammar puns in Goliardic and troubadour poetry to the perverse grammar of the sodomites (hic et hic grammatice debent copulari) and the excessive grammar of the speculative grammarians, this roundtable will consider kinky grammar in all its forms.

Please send abstracts of 200-250 words to us at thegrammarrabble@gmail.com no later than Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

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