An Uncommon Exclusion: Human/More-than-Human Alliance in the Medieval and Early Modern Imaginations
July 9-12, 2023 in Portland, Oregon
Sponsored by the Oecologies Research Group
Past and present criticisms of enclosure risk affirming its setting of more-than-human life against human society and space. In scorning post-Conquest forest law, for example, one eleventh-century chronicler castigates William the Conqueror for having “loved the forest animals as if he were their father.” Through the unjustly queer filial bond of “deorfrith” (deer forest; game protection), the irate writer suggests, the king bestows on his quarries a privilege of exclusive death.
In upholding the animal and arboreal boundaries they criticize, the chronicler exemplifies a tendency for medieval, early modern, and modern critiques of enclosure to circumscribe common land and common relation by deferring—however resentfully—to monarchic, anthropocentric logics of territory. The idea of the commons itself, then and now, often projects backward in a golden-age, conservative move that forecloses possible futures to enshrine an ossified past.
For this ASLE/AESS panel, the Oecologies Research Cluster invites papers that look forward, claiming rather than rejecting uncommon, queer alliances against imperial governance. We invite presentations on imaginaries of illegal, anarchic, and other more-than-human alliance in the medieval and early modern periods. Analyzing textual and material artefacts for their promise of political commonality, panelists might consider:
- TRESPASSERS: More-than-human cooperation in shaping and navigating space, including animal, lithic, and arboreal forms of outlawry or escape;
- SPATIALITY: Environmental refusal or failure—via weather, disaster, or divine/supernatural agency—to uphold executive imaginaries of “territory”;
- CONSPIRACY: Human–nonhuman alliance in creating extralegal or a-legal commons;
- OTHER COMMONS: Medieval imaginaries that speak to postcolonial and anticolonial critiques of, and calls to imagine beyond, “the commons” as codified in (for example) the high Middle Ages;
- HISTORICISM: Sources that avoid golden-age imperial nostalgia in favour of speculative, more-than-human futurity;
- PRESENTISM: Sources as entries toward a queer, antiracist, anticolonial, (or) disabled canon of uncommon remembrance across and in disregard of conventional geopolitics or periodization;
- And more.
We welcome global, regional, and local approaches to the medieval and early modern periods, and we encourage proposals by BIPOC scholars, international scholars, and scholars at all stages of their careers.
Please send abstracts of 250 words and a short bio by December 9, 2022 by email to both:
*Please note that this will be an in-person panel with, regrettably, no hybrid elements, in accordance with the larger conference.*
For more information regarding the Oecologies Research Cluster and its affiliated programing, see https://oecologies.com
Translation from the Rime of King William by Stefan Jurasinski, 2004.