“Representations of the Ordinary in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods”

The 16th Annual North Carolina Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies invites graduate students to submit proposals for twenty-minute paper presentations that investigate representations of everyday life––mimetic, descriptive, or prescriptive––from late antiquity through early modernity. How are the particularities of ordinary experience shown, shaped, distorted, or elided in poetry, prose, visual art, architecture, music, drama, and other forms of creative endeavor? For that matter, what constitutes the concept of the ordinary, and how does the history of this concept interweave with the development of realism, alongside other modes of representation?

In short, we shall explore what is at stake in representing the ordinary. For whether the representation works toward a form of distinction or a claim to community, it cannot be neutral. We encourage participants to explore an array of topics within this region of inquiry. (See list below. Note that it does not purport to be comprehensive. All pertinent concerns are welcome.)

The NC Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is a cooperative venture between UNC-Chapel Hill’s and Duke University’s programs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies. We seek contributions from a broad range of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines––including, but not limited to History, Musicology, Philosophy, Theology, Literary Studies, Linguistics, Cultural Studies, Political Theory, Sociology, Anthropology, Art History, Gender Studies, Sexuality Studies, and Food Studies.

Interested graduate students should submit 250-word abstracts to representingtheordinary@gmail.com no later than Thursday, January 14, 2016 (extended deadline). The body of the email should include the presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information, but the abstract itself should be attached as a PDF or MS Word Document. Decisions will be announced by Monday, January 18, 2016.

Possible Subjects:

  • temporalities of the everyday, the diurnal
  • the ordinary in its tragic/comic aspects; mystery plays
  • liturgical practice, parishional variety, guilds
  • agency, habit, praxis
  • commerce and the quotidian, homo economicus
  • play, the aleatory, homo ludens
  • jokes and insults
  • song and dance
  • visions of language––ordinary and ideal, private and universal
  • the body, gesture, physiognomy, materialities of communication
  • pedagogy and learning
  • rise of the vernacular, semantic shift, lexicography
  • reading practices, history of reading, marginalia
  • gender, sexuality, and desire
  • manuals and guides for agrarian, domestic, or courtly life
  • households, lords and servants; the oikos and the polis
  • the ordinary and modernity; everyday life, pre/postmodern
  • the place of death and grief in life
  • representations of reality in writing
  • realism in painting and sculpture
  • realism and nominalism; the generic and the particular
  • common spaces, urban and rural
  • the built environment, orientation
  • imposed structures, functional objects
  • mechanization and machinery
  • print, mass production and dissemination