Call for Papers: SEMA 2016

Deva Kemmis's picture
Call for Papers
May 30, 2016
Tennessee, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, German History / Studies, Medieval and Byzantine History / Studies, Philosophy

Call for Papers SEMA 2016

Please submit abstracts to Deva Kemmis ( or Larissa Tracy (, as soon as possible.

Session Title: Consuming the Monster: Monsters and Epistemological Modes of Knowledge
Session Sponsors: MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology Through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application) Session Organizers: Deva F. Kemmis (Academy of the Holy Cross) and Larissa Tracy (Longwood University)

This panel will examine the multiple links between monsters and knowing in medieval literature and culture. The nature of the relationship between epistemological modes of knowledge and the medieval monster in its numerous and varied iterations is seen as the central avenue of inquiry for this session. From Melusine and her watery sisters who impart knowledge of the future, to giants who speak to the earth’s very beginnings, to dragons that signal the end of the world, the encounter with the medieval monster is very often marked by an epistemological transformation, both for the human being in the text, and for the reader. Indeed, the two most often cited theologians of monstrosity, Augustine and Isidore, both saw monsters as a form of divine pedagogy, provided to help humans understand God’s powers and plans.

Possible topics of interest include, but are not limited to: literary and visual depictions of the epistemological dimension of the encounter between human and monster; the structural underpinnings of the sensory dynamic of the encounter, i.e. locating the knowledge transfer between monster and human in the auditory, visual, haptic, olfactory and even gustatory realms; the conception of the human in the encounter as consumer of the knowledge that the monster imparts; poetological considerations of how the reader in turn consumes and is changed by knowledge drawn from the encounter; intersections between literary science, art history, philology, theology, and other disciplines that focus on the figure of the monster in the medieval world, broadly seen, and its phenomenological implications; and pedagogical suggestions for bringing the epistemology of the encounter with the medieval monster into the classroom. Papers are invited on any aspect of the possible connections between epistemological modes of knowledge and monsters in medieval literature and culture.

Abstracts due by May 30, 2016