CFP: Performance and Materiality in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

The 2016 Graduate Student Conference of the

Early Modern Colloquium

University of Michigan

March 11-12, 2016

The Early Modern Colloquium at the University of Michigan invites abstracts for papers for their interdisciplinary graduate student conference, "Performance and Materiality in Medieval and Early Modern Culture" at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, March 11-12, 2016.

This conference will open dialogues between performance studies and material culture, two fields that have proven especially fruitful for early modern and medieval scholars in the past years. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the agency of nonhuman objects. Practitioners of “New Materialism” such as Bill Brown, Graham Harman, Jane Bennett, and Bruno Latour have provided scholars with tools for investigating the relationships between things both material and immaterial. The questions posed by these figures have challenged preconceptions about subject/object distinctions in disciplines including Archeology, History, Musicology, Literature, Philosophy, Science Studies, and many more. Likewise, in the field of medieval and early modern performance studies, scholars such as Seeta Chaganti and Claire Sponsler have interrogated the generic boundaries of dramatic texts, and embraced a wider field of texts and traditions, while scholars such as Jonathan Gil-Harris and Andrew Sofer have used the concept of “stage property” to explore the semiotics and ritual actions of drama.

We are looking for papers that engage either or both of our central terms. Some questions this conference hopes to pose include: how is medieval and early modern performance shaped by material conditions? How are props and other performing objects contributing to theories of materiality? What role do nonhuman objects such as props, costumes, devotional objects, art, and architecture play in premodern performance? How can we best understand the agency of nonhuman objects in these environments? What do recent theories like Object-Oriented-Ontology or Extended Cognition have to offer thinking about past performances?

Please submit 250-300 word abstracts for 15-20 minute papers to Sheila Coursey ( or Tony Gillum ( with the subject heading “EMC Conference” by January 10th, 2016. The Early Modern Colloquium is an interdisciplinary graduate student group at the University of Michigan and will give priority to abstracts submitted by graduate students.