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News and Announcements: Calls for Papers

Call for Papers: Pedagogy and the Premodern

Tuesday, December 3, 2019  

Pedagogy and the Premodern

A symposium hosted by Duke Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

March 6–7, 2020
Duke University

Scholars of the premodern face an increasingly difficult challenge in the modern academy: presenting medieval and early modern texts, materials, ideas, and histories in classrooms and institutions preoccupied to an unprecedented extent with the new and the now. In addition to perennial questions of the (allegedly) declining relevance and appeal of premodern study to postmodern undergraduates, we face in our classrooms potential barriers to student engagement and learning—difficulties of language; problems of unfamiliarity; questions of relatability—that are specific to our fields and require considered approaches. More troublingly, the premodern past has become in recent years a particularly explosive site of contestation as insidious and racist attempts to co-opt this past have been made ever more visible, both inside and outside the academy.

In light of these contemporary concerns, what does it mean, today, to teach the premodern past responsibly and ethically? How might we effectively engage students in the unfamiliar past in a way that connects with a rapidly changing present? How can we help students to attend seriously to medieval and early modern voices, concerns, and ideas? How does the medieval and early modern classroom remain a vital and vibrant force in the modern university?

This symposium, hosted by Duke's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, seeks to open out conversations about pedagogical theory and practice in medieval and early modern studies that stem not from anxiety about the relevance of these areas of study, but from assurance of their value. We hope to create a space for robust and practical thinking about the pedagogical challenges and opportunities of teaching the premodern world within the postmodern classroom. To that end, we invite teachers and scholars working in any discipline to propose panel sessions, workshops, roundtables, and individual papers on any aspect of medieval and early modern pedagogy within the contemporary university.

Presentations, in whatever form, should be geared towards sparking discussion and encouraging interchange among participants. Lines of inquiry might encompass (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Questions of "relevance" and appeal
  • Diversifying and/or decolonizing the premodern syllabus
  • Creative and/or performance-based pedagogy in the premodern classroom
  • Digital pedagogies and premodern materials
  • Teaching the premodern through popular culture
  • Anti-racist pedagogies and the premodern classroom
  • Balancing the alterity and continuity of the premodern past
  • Interdisciplinary pedagogy
  • Exemplary models and strategies for teaching premodern material

We welcome participation from scholars working in any discipline in premodern study, broadly conceived, and particularly encourage early-career scholars and advanced graduate students to submit proposals for papers, panels, and workshop sessions that engage deeply with pedagogies of the premodern from any angle and at any scale, from the systemic to the individual assignment.

Proposals for individual papers, panel sessions, or workshops should be submitted by January 15, 2020. For individual papers, please submit a 150-word abstract and a current CV. For panel sessions, organizers should submit a brief overview of the proposed panel, and the names, contact information, and CVs of all participants. Workshop proposals should include a brief overview of the content and aims of the workshop, a current CV, as well as details regarding format, number of participants accommodated, and any space/equipment/special requirements.

We encourage interested scholars to reach out with any questions. Proposals and queries should be sent to: Grace Hamman ( and Lindsey Larre (

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