Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Call for Papers: Transliterature Sponsored Conference Panels 2017


Remembering all those fighting the fight 
On the Feast Day of Saint Joan of Arc
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In the open letter to the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, I mentioned that there had been a downturn in transgender and intersex focused conference panels. In 2016, two sessions each were devoted to the respective gender minorities. In 2017, no sessions existed for either to attract, collect, and promote these fields. While at the Congress, I sat in on some fantastic papers that addressed trans or non-binary embodiments in some way. Also, I had some cherished coffee breaks and meals with amazing queer, trans, and non-binary scholars; some of whom were able to be at the conference because of the Transgender Travel Fund provided by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship. Listening to their work and their stories, I was honored and affirmed to share in the significant contributions and sacrifices being made to improve the field and the lives of those who work in it. But I also felt the weight of how hard it is, possibly too hard and unsustainable, for those who carry the burden to push our community forward.

Amidst the tears and mutual support, there were direct actions that continue to give me hope. This includes the invitation to organize panels for the upcoming BABEL Working Group and Medieval Congress 2018. Two panels are already approved and open for submissions for the Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group in Reno, NV. The first invites submissions for scholars, authors, and artists working to promote the consideration or reimagining of transgender history. The second calls for submissions to take the risk to discuss the fraught but often life-giving intersection of faith communities and scholarship. Abstracts are due June 10. Finally, at the business meeting for the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship a vote was called for over a dozen panels, of which only about a half dozen were selected for submitted for consideration to the Medieval Congress. I am excited and encouraged to say that when a sessions "Towards a Medieval Transgender Studies" went up for a vote, so many hands in the 100+ person room was raised that the panel was approved without a count, on grounds of being "vaguely unanimous." The session is yet to be approved by the Congress but please feel called to consider and contact me via e-mail if you have interest in participating or if you want more information.

Looking back and looking ahead, I also wanted to say a word of gratitude and wonder for all the committed, impassioned, and brilliant academics, artists, and writers I've get to know over the course of doing this work. What keeps me going and motivated to push for more sessions and engagement in the fields of trans, intersex, feminist, disability, and critical race studies is enjoyment and learning I get from encountering your professional and personal contributions. I consider my #1 job is to be a cheerleader for these amazing communities. Because you all are working yourself raw and taking big chances, doing your share and more to make the academy and our culture better. That deserves to be remembered, honored, and I am just tickled ROYGBIV to be able to work with you. Thank you and may you persist no matter how many times you are warned or have things explained to you.


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Towards a Medieval Transgender Studies
(email: M.W. Bychowski, MBychows@gwu.edu)
Approval Pending

The International Congress on Medieval Studies
Kalamazoo, MI. May, 2018.

Facing resistance in regards to its place in contemporary society, transgender studies is beginning to look for roots within premodern eras. In recent years, a question has been floating around medieval and transgender studies, spurring conference papers and special issues of the Medieval Feminist Forum and Transgender Studies Quarterly: how might we begin to articulate a medieval transgender studies? Gaining momentum, a critical turn towards a medieval transgender studies shows signs of emergence. If such a movement is to be possible, much work remains to be done. Following in the tradition of interventions by queer, disability, and feminist scholarship, debates are arising regarding language, identity, narrative, historicism, and methodologies. This session will serve as a forum where presenters will articulate the challenges, the promises, and the resources that lay on the road towards a trans future for the past. Participants are encouraged to consider the archives of medieval history, theology, art, medicine, science, and literature that can be put into critical dialog with trans voices from the past and today.


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Imagining Trans History and Transhistoricism: 
Creation and/as/or Critique
(Email: M.W. Bychowski, mbychows@email.gwu.edu, 
and Bruce Holsinger, bwholsinger@gmail.com)
DUE JUNE 10th.

5th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group
Reno, NV. October 2017.

Sandy Stone’s foundational transgender studies essay, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” sets out a necessary and broad mission for the future of the past: “transsexuals must take responsibility for all of their history, to begin to rearticulate their lives not as a series of erasures… but as a political action begun by reappropriating difference and reclaiming the power of the refigured and reinscribed body… to begin to write oneself into the discourses by which one has been written.” In the spirit of this mission statement, our panel invites a wide examination of the histories and discourses from and through which concepts of transgender develop.

The panel will be open to a range of approaches. History invites creativity. Medieval and modern texts invite both critical readers and artists to imagine the life and lives that occur in the silences, though often in very different ways. Living in a world and language not designed for it, transgender history regularly appears among the contradictions, erasures, and euphemistic metaphors in the official records. As a result, telling and otherwise recreating trans history demands careful scrutiny of the modes and limitations of anti-transphobic creative work. Introducing and connecting ideas from across time, trans historical work time and again forms intersections with transhistorical palimpsests. This panel considers the myriad ways that scholars, authors, poets, lyricists, and artists fill out the interweaving cultural pasts and presents of transgender. The aim is to ask questions, take risks, and play with the arts and sciences that connect generations of trans histories and trans dreams.

We hope to receive proposals that reflect both scholarly and creative work, and ideally a combination of the two. The session will feature a series of ten to fifteen minute presentations, followed by a discussion.
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Here I Am, Stuck in the Middle with You
(Email: Ben Utter, bdutter@gmail.com)
DUE JUNE 10th.

5th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group
Reno, NV. October 2017.

Finding, keeping, proclaiming, losing, or breaking with one’s faith is always a risky business, and in America, where faith is a big business, the bad faith of Evangelical Christian voters has made relationships riskier than ever for those who find themselves caught between mutually-antagonistic cultural communities. This roundtable session will be an opportunity for BABELers of faith or with ties to various faith traditions—Christian and otherwise—to address the relationship between faith (i.e. the non-empirical, the spiritual) and action or risk. As people between these communities, we may have acted as interpreters, if not necessarily apologists, between groups that regard one another with deep suspicion or even hostility. What are the possibilities and perils of such a position, now that we can no longer be (and probably shouldn’t have ever been) neutral points of contact? How do we use our positions at the intersection of communities that don’t often talk or get along? What are the struggles and how might these contact points be used or improved in the future? Can we condemn our “post-factual” world while at the same time avoiding denigrating people of faith? By the same token, how might we encourage our faith communities to be skeptical of neo-liberal “data idolatry” and to consider the important relationship between facts (and by proxy, research) and interpretation (and/or belief)?

We invite participation from people of, adjacent to, in recovery from, or without faith or spiritual conviction of any kind. The session will feature a series of ten-minute presentations, followed by a discussion. Please send proposals of 250 words or so describing the story, homily, confessio, prayer, waz, or apostatic manifesto you’d like to share.

Co-organizers: Ben Utter, Gabrielle MW Bychowski, Lesley Curtis, Alex Mueller, Noelle Phillips, & Cord Whittaker.
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