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„Strange Matter“: How Things Disrupt Time

23.08.2018 - 25.08.2018


International conference organised by project B01 "Artefacts, Treasures and Ruins - Materiality and Historicity in the Literature of the English Middle Ages " (Head: Prof. Dr. Andrew James Johnston)

Medieval and early modern texts of all genres frequently display a fascination with material objects, from ancient heirlooms to lavish artworks and ingenious automata. While these objects are usually beautiful, costly or imbued with great powers, they often also betray an unfamiliar origin. Evoking a sense of strangeness and wonder, their mysterious provenance tends to establish notions of spatial and/or temporal distance. Indeed, it seems as though a temporal dimension were always already inscribed into ‘strange’ or ‘wondrous’ things: these objects owe their special status not least to the fact that they belong to different time-schemes, enabling them to act as potent repositories of temporal ‘otherness’. This conference will explore how medieval and early modern texts deploy material objects in order to negotiate questions of temporal otherness. The literary engagement with the material world, we believe, provides a backdrop against which alternative ways of thinking materiality and temporality become possible.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

13.30  Registration
14.00 Welcome Address
  Chair: tba
14.15  Jonathan Gil Harris (Ashoka University): Strange Mater: An Uncanny Vision of Mary in a Sixteenth-Century Goan Hindu Temple
15.15  Kim M. Phillips (University of Auckland): Marco Polo’s Boqtaq: A Medieval Object and its Afterlives
16.15  Coffee
16.45  Andrew James Johnston (Freie Universität Berlin): A Strange Object of Aesthetic Desire: Chaucer’s Theatre as Cinema
17.45  Reception
Friday, 24 August 2018
  Chair: Joshua Davies (King’s College, London)
 09.30  Julian Yates (University of Delaware): Time for Relics
 10.30  Jan-Peer Hartmann (Freie Universität Berlin): The Multiple Lives of the Ruthwell Monument 



James Paz (University of Manchester): Welandes geweorc: How smiþcræft Disrupts the Narrative of Beowulf

 13.00  Lunch
  Chair: Peter Löffelbein (Freie Universität Berlin)
14.30  Sharon Kinoshita (UC Santa Cruz): How to Do Things with Things: Material Objects in the Multicultural Mediterranean
 15.30  Falk Quenstedt (Freie Universität Berlin): Marvellous Stones as Mediators in Herzog Ernst and Straßburger Alexander
 16.30  Coffee

Seeta Chaganti (UC Davies): ‘Swych Vertu’: Time, Virtuality, and a Middle English Carol

Saturday, 25 August 2018

  Chair: Sarah Briest (Freie Universität Berlin)
09.30 Shayne Legassie (UNC Chapel Hill): Insect Life and Afterlife
10.30  Martin Bleisteiner (Freie Universität Berlin): ‘As he were lyvynge’ – Hector’s Body and the Problem of Posterity in Lydgate’s Troy Book
 11.30  Coffee
  Chair: Wolfram Keller (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
 12.00  Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): Between Etymology and Symbol: Words as Things
 13.00  Lunch
 14.30  Stephanie Trigg (University of Melbourne): Vitreous Temporality
 15.30  Round-Up

Zeit & Ort

23.08.2018 - 25.08.2018

SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem