International Pearl-Poet Society
Call for Papers — ICMS 2019
The International Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring six sessions at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 9–12, 2019) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
1) Is there a class in this text? Teaching the Pearl-poet (Roundtable)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has long been a mainstay of Brit Lit surveys and introductions to medieval literature. However, the recent anthologising of Pearl, both in the Middle English and in translation, and the rise of pedagogical interest in vernacular religious traditions such as those exemplified by Cleanness and Patience, calls for a fresh appraisal of classroom strategies for approaching these texts.
2) Visual Rhetoric in the Works of the Gawain-poet
From the description of shining, jewelled New Jerusalem to the blazons of Sir Gawain and the Pearl-maiden to the Pearl-dreamer’s inability to ‘see’ clearly, the Gawain-poet reveals himself to be a writer who depends on visual metaphors, imagery, and motifs. Seeking to renovate earlier work by Sarah Stanbury (1991, 2007), Maidie Hilmo (2001), and Tony Davenport (2008), this session will explore the ways that the poet deploys motifs of sight and seeing to shape the meaning of his texts.
3) Gender and Engendering in the Works of the Pearl-poet
Morgan le Fay, Hagar and Sarah, Lady Bertilak, the Pearl-maiden, Lot’s unnamed wife and daughters, Queen Guinevere. Shrinking Gawain, wayward Jonah, ‘beardless’ Arthur, the gentle Jeweller, the Green Knight with his half-giant chest and shoulders to match. Housteholds hoping for heirs; kingdoms that shall never know one. The Pearl-poet presents a broad spectrum of gendered characters. This session invites participants to consider how the poet plays with tropes of gender in the Cotton Nero A.x poems and St. Erkenwald.
4) Beyond the Codex: Extraliterary Influences on the Texts of the PearlManuscript
The Pearl-poet was, without a doubt, widely read. But what other cultural ‘texts’ and contexts influenced his poetry? How did architecture, the liturgy, political upheaval, religious debates, economic anxiety, international affairs, and epidemic outbreak weigh on mind of the poet as he composed his works?
5) Fifty Shades of Green: Hagiography and Demonology in the Pearl-poet Corpus
Between the celestial city and the shady Green Chapel, the miracles of a London bishop and the Leviathan-underworld in the belly of a sea beast, the works of the Pearl-poet explore the full range of the divine and the infernal. The papers in this session will interrogate the poet’s use of hagiographic tropes as well as material from folk traditions as he crafts his supernatural narratives.
We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels. Papers may deal with one or all of the poems by the Pearl-poet. Paper sessions will consist of either three twenty-minute or four fifteen-minute presentations; all paper sessions will afford at least thirty minutes for discussion. As lively conversation and collaboration are key goals, the pedagogical roundtable can accommodate up to six participants presenting for seven or eight minutes, with approximately half the session reserved for discussion.
Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and the completed Participant Information Form by
15 September 2018 to
Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies
59 Queen’s Park Crescent East
Canada M5S 2C4
My co-edited volume, Approaches to Teaching the Middle English Pearl, is now in print from the Modern Language Association.
The moving, richly allegorical poem Pearl was written in Middle English by the anonymous who likely also penned Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In it, a man in a garden, grieving the loss of a beloved pearl, dreams of the Pearl-Maiden, who appears across a stream. She teaches him the nature of innocence, God’s grace, meekness, and purity. Though granted a vision of the New Jerusalem by the Pearl-Maiden, the dreamer is pained to discover that he cannot cross the stream himself and join her in bliss—at least not yet. This extraordinary poem is a door into late medieval poetics and Catholic piety.
Part 1 of this volume, “Materials,” introduces instructors to the many resources available for teaching the canonical yet challenging Pearl, including editions, translations, and scholarship on the poem as well as its historical context. The essays in part 2, “Approaches,” offer instructors tools for introducing students to critical issues associated with the poem, such as its authorship, sources and analogues, structure and language, and relation to other works of its time. Contributors draw on interdisciplinary approaches to outline ways of teaching Pearl in a variety of classroom contexts.
Table of Contents
- With many thanks to my co-editor, our editors at the MLA, and all of our contributors!
Call for Papers – ICMS 2018
The International Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring three sessions at the 53rdInternational Congress on Medieval Studies (May 10-13, 2018) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
1) Postcards from the Edge: Boundaries & Liminality in the Gawain-poet (paper session)
Hailing from, and possibly writing in, the Northwest Midlands, the poet of the Cotton Nero A.x poems was acutely aware of the tensions between the centre and periphery. Like Gawain venturing forth from the warmth of Arthur’s court to wander the Welsh marches, this session explores the role and function of the outside, the edge, and the in-between in the works of the Gawain-poet.
2) Play & Performance in the Pearl-poet (paper session)
This session moves beyond the critical discussion of ludic elements in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to take a more broad approach to play and performance in the poems of Cotton Nero A.x and St. Erkenwald. This wider scope allows for investigations of the poet’s interest in word games, competing voices and discourses, and the role of courtly entertainments in and for the poems.
3) A Readers’ Theatre of the Gawain-poet (performance session)
This session offers participants a chance to indulge in the texture of the poet’s rich language in the original Northwest Midlands dialect. We welcome monologues, dialogues, and performances by many voices. Please indicate the names of participants and the section of the text you will be performing.
We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels. Papers may deal with one or all of the poems by the Pearl-poet. Paper sessions will consist of four fifteen-minute presentations with thirty minutes. We ask participants in the Readers’ Theatre to limit their performances to twenty minutes maximum.
Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and the completed Participant Information Form (https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u434/2017/medieval-pif-2018.doc) by 15 September 2017 to
Centre for Medieval Studies
University of Toronto
125 Queen’s Park Crescent
M5S 1A1 Canada
by Jane Beal
This book enhances our understanding of the exquisitely beautiful, fourteenth-century, Middle English dream vision poem Pearl. Situating the study in the contexts of medieval literary criticism and contemporary genre theory, Beal argues that the poet intended Pearl to be read at four levels of meaning and in four corresponding genres: literally, an elegy; spiritually, an allegory; morally, a consolation; and anagogically, a revelation. The book addresses cruxes and scholarly debates about the poem’s genre and meaning, including key questions that have been unresolved in Pearl studies for over a century:
- What is the nature of the relationship between the Dreamer and the Maiden?
- What is the significance of allusions to Ovidian love stories and the use of liturgical time in the poem?
- How does avian symbolism, like that of the central symbol of the pearl, develop, transform, and add meaning throughout the dream vision?
- What is the nature of God portrayed in the poem, and how does the portrayal of the Maiden’s intimate relationship to God, her spiritual marriage to the Lamb, connect to the poet’s purpose in writing?
Noting that the poem is open to many interpretations, Beal also considers folktale genre patterns in Pearl, including those drawn from parable, fable, and fairy-tale. The conclusion considers Pearl in the light of modern psychological theories of grieving and trauma. This book makes a compelling case for re-reading Pearl and recognizing the poem’s signifying power. Given the ongoing possibility of new interpretations, it will appeal to those who specialize in Pearl as well as scholars of Middle English, Medieval Literature, Genre Theory, and Literature and Religion.
The International Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring the following two paper sessions at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 11-14, 2017) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI:
I: Death and Rebirth in the Pearl-Poet
II: The Transformative Pearl-Poet: Translation and Adaptation
We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels, dealing with one or all of the Pearl-Poems. Papers should be no more than 20 minutes long. Submissions should include one-page abstracts and the completed Participant Information Form (https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u434/2016/medieval-pif-2017.doc). Please send these by September 13, 2016 to:
Kara Larson Maloney
Department of English, General Literature & Rhetoric
PO Box 6000
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000