Deadline Sep 15 | CPF – Trans-gressive Bodies: A Queer Perspective on Ovid in the Middle Ages

Dear Medievalists and Early Modernists,

We hope you have had a restful and productive summer! This past spring, MARGIN held its first annual Symposium on the afterlife of Ovid in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We were delighted to present seven engaging student papers, as well as a keynote from Dr. Ana Pairet of Rutger’s University. The papers included topics as wide ranging as objectumsexuality in Pearl and the Roman de la Rose, so-called “hermaphrodite sin” in Inferno, and transgressive artists in the work of Spencer. The papers demonstrated not only how prevalent Ovid was in medieval and early modern culture but also how many new and exciting readings of Ovid and Ovidian responses are possible, particularly when scholars of so many different disciplinary and temporal backgrounds work together as team. Dr. Pairet’s respondent Dr. Alessandro Barchiesi (NYU, Classics) encouraged us to keep exploring these readings. And so we shall.

We are delighted to announce that we are taking the MARGIN Symposium on the road! We are hosting a session at the 53rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, this spring in May 2018 in Kalamazoo: “Trans-gressive Bodies: A Queer Perspective on Ovid in the Middle Ages.” Continuing the conversations begun last spring, which generally departed from ‘traditional’ approaches to Ovidian reception (e.g. ‘influence’ or citation practices), our session takes a queer approach to the history of Ovid’s reception. We propose a panel which considers Ovid as a prompt for medieval considerations of non-normative bodies and non-normative desires. We suggest that Ovid helped the Medieval culture think queerly about bodies and identity. We hope to position Ovid as a touchstone for conceptualizing (possibly justifying) bodies which are transgressive, bodies that resist, that defy categorization, that defy boundaries or those bodies which are “trans-”; bodies that act transgressively, that enact desires which are “perverse.”

Our panel seeks papers that consider Ovid and his medieval reception in light of:

  • Disability studies
  • Trans-studies
  • Objectophilia or object-oriented ontology
  • Critical plant studies
  • Animal studies
  • Transgressive sexual practices, including sodomy and bestiality
  • Fragmented bodies
  • Other queer theoretical approaches

MARGIN’s mission is to foster collaboration across disciplines. Hence we welcome submissions from all disciplines, particularly history, literary studies, history of the book and art history. We feel an interdisciplinary (and even trans-temporal) conversation can help us better understand the multifaceted nature of Ovid’s Medieval reception and the use of his corpus to think through transgressive bodies and identities.

Those who participated in the Symposium as either presenters or respondents are encouraged to resubmit their papers or submit new papers. Completely new papers are also encouraged from NYU students and faculty but also community members from outside the University. Please share this message with friends and colleagues. Paper proposals should be sent to no later than September 15th and should be no longer than 300 words. Please feel free to reach out to myself ( or Katherine Travers ( with any questions.

Once again, we hope you all had a wonderful summer. Expect an email in the coming week about MARGIN’s new topic for the year, one inspired by our engagement of Ovid: “Messy Bodies.”


Best wishes,

Christopher Richards (IFA), Katherine Travers (Italian), and Juliana Amorim Goskes (History)

MARGIN is a graduate student group for students in any department at NYU with an interest in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, or both. MARGIN’s members are excited by working collaboratively with students of diverse disciplinary as well as temporal interests and firmly believe that their own scholarship is made stronger, when combined with the unique perspectives and skills of others. Our goal is to get students reading, talking, and working together, in an accessible and social setting, who would not otherwise engage with each other’s work. We hope that these student conversations will produce fruitful avenues for future research.

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