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Biennial London Chaucer Conference: Science, Magic and Technology

  • 2015-07-10
  • 2015-07-11
  • London


Friday 10 July

09.30- 10.00: Registration

10.00 -11.30: 3-paper sessions

1. Nature   

  • Kellie Robertson (University of Maryland): Speaking in Nature’s Voice
  • Andrew Higl (Winona State University): The Nature of Nature in the Parliament of Fowls
  • Karen Gross (Lewis and Clark College): The Science of the End: The Use of Anglo-Norman Apocalypses in Medieval Reference Works

2. Science: patronage and communication    

  • Hilary Carey (Bristol): Eleanor Cobham, Duke Humfrey and the Patronage of Science and Medicine
  • Seb Falk (University of Cambridge): “I wel wot it is figured boistosly”: didactic writing in the Equatorie of the Planetis
  • Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr): “I n’am but a lewd compilator:” Translatio and Scientific Knowledge in Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe

11.30 -12.00:    Refreshments

12.00 -13.30:    3-paper sessions

3. Theories of Knowledge    

  • Anke Bernau (University of Manchester): ‘Crafty and Curious’: Seeking the Boundaries of Knowledge in the Late Middle Ages
  • David Wallace (University of Pennsylvania): in limine
  • Bernhard Hollick (University of Cologne): Ovidian Psychology: Poetry, Literary Criticism, and Science in 14th Century England

4. Astrology and Divination    

  • Anne Mathers-Lawrence (University of Reading): The weather and the stars: astro-meteorology in late medieval England
  •  Jo Edge (Cambridge): Chaucer’s poure scoler, the quadrivial curriculum and the ‘Sphere of Life and Death’
  • Clare Fletcher (Trinity College Dublin): 'Al is thurgh constellacion': Planetary Influence in John ‎Gower's Confessio Amantis

5. Psychology and Literature    

  • Megan Leitch (Cardiff University): Ricardian Dream Visions and the Science of Sleep
  • Connie Bubash (Pennsylvania State University): Poetics of the Plague: Melancholia and Prescriptive Reading in The Book of the Duchess
  • Alastair Bennett (Royal Holloway): The Franklin’s Tale and the technology of consolation

13.30 -14.30:    Lunch

14.30 -16.30:    4-paper session

6. Elemental    

  • Hetta Howes (Queen Mary, University of London):  ‘April with his shoures soote’: Watery Tropes in Late Medieval Literature’
  • Stephanie Trigg (University of Melbourne) ‘Þe borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez’: The City on Fire in Middle English Literature
  • Sophia Wilson (King’s College London) ‘Nothinge is fix but earth alon’: The Uncertainty of Earth and Anxiety of Animacy
  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (George Washington University): Heavy Atmosphere

7. Medical Narratives and Images    

  • Marion Turner (University of Oxford): Illness and the Limits of Narrative: Arderne, Hoccleve, and Chaucer
  • Peter Murray Jones (King’s College Cambridge): Medicine and narrative in the later Middle Ages
  • Sarah Griffin (University of Oxford): Ordering the Internal Body: Constructing the organ diagrams of an English thirteenth-century medical compendium 
  • • Lea Olson (University of Louisiana at Monroe): Artists’ recipes and medical remedies: useful knowledge in Cambridge University Library MS Dd.5.76

16.30-17.00:    Refreshments

17.00 -18.00:   Plenary 1: 

Allan Mitchell (University of Victoria) 'Chaucer’s Translation Machine, or, Astrolabes and Augmented Bodies of Science'

18.00    Reception

Saturday 11 July

09.00- 10.30: 3-paper session

8. Magic and Technology    

  • Carolina Escobar (Reading): Technology is not magic, or is it? A twelfth-century debate
  • Alison Harthill (Cardiff): Necromantic Mechanics: Misunderstood Medieval Technology
  • Sara Tagliagamba (Siena): Bewitched by demons and angels: Automata, magic and technology in the Renaissance

9. The Science of Experience and the Experience of Science in Chaucerian Dream Poetry    

  • Charlotte Rudman (King’s College London): Soundscapes in Chaucer’s Dream Poems
  • Charlotte Knight (King’s College London): Exploring the Science of Memory in Chaucer’s Dream Poems
  • Koren Kuntz (Durham): Ekphrasis, Cognition, and Multimodality in Chaucer’s Dream Poetry

10. Literary Technologies    

  • Juliette Vuille (University of Oxford): ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’: Chaucer’s Experimentation with Messenger Figures
  • Jenni Nuttall (St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford): The Techne of Verse-Making: Poetry’s Termes in Middle English
  • Sarah Noonan (Lindenwood University): Silent Emendations: Modern Foliation and the Obscured Sophistication of Late-Medieval Technologies of Mise-en-page

10.30 -11.00:    Refreshments

11.00 -12.30:    3-paper sessions

11. Magic and Medicine    

  • Katherine Hindley (Yale): ‘Mak a rynge and wryte with in’: Text as Technology in Late Medieval England
  • Elma Brenner (Wellcome) 'Between Magic and Religious Culture: Charms in Late Medieval English Medical Manuscripts'
  • Mike Leahy (Birkbeck): Relics and Urinals: The Power of Objects in The Canterbury Tales

12. Time in Chaucer    

  • Kara Gaston (University of Toronto): “Quid enim non carmina possunt?”: Magic and the Poetics of Time Management from Metamorphoses 7 to The Franklin's Tale
  • Dawn Walts (Lewis University): The Monk’s Chilindre and the Merchant’s Reckoning in The Shipman’s Tale
  • Simon Meecham-Jones (Birkbeck): Technophobia in ‘The Former Age’

13. Philosophical Questions    

  • • Tekla Bude (Newnham College Cambridge): Fetheres of Philosopye: Chaucer and the Metaphysics of Music
  • • Alexander Gabrovsky (Trinity College Cambridge): Chaucer and the Physics of Sublunary Transformation
  • • Wan-Chuan Kao (Washington and Lee University): Salvific Energy, Sustainable Faith

12.30 -13.30:    Lunch

13.30 -15.00:    3-paper sessions

14. Fertility and Infertility    

  • Catherine Rider (University of Exeter): Magic, Science and Fertility in Late Medieval England
  • Anita Obermeier (University of New Mexico): Birth and Birth Control in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • Jennifer Alberghini (CUNY): ‘Unkynde Abhouminaciouns’: Monstrous Birth in the Man of Law’s Tale

15. Matter, Spirit and Alchemy    

  • Susanna Fein (Kent State University): Perceptions of Matter and Spirit: Corpus Christi in Two Canterbury Tales
  • Shazia Jagot (University of Southern Denmark): Senior, Sufism and Secrets: The Alchemy of Chaucer’s Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale
  • Sandy Feinstein (Penn State University): Teasing Science, Teasing Love: “Dalliance” in “To Rosemounde”

16. Scientific discourses in Chaucer    

  • Roberta Magnani (University of Swansea): Astronomical Discourse and Queer Identities in the Glosses to The Man of Law’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Prologue
  • Rebecca Pawel (Columbia University): Chaucer’s Science Fiction
  • Ben Parsons (University of Leicester): The Windmills of the Mind: Milling, Madness and ‎Merry-making

15.00-15.30:    Refreshments

15.30 -17.30:    4-paper sessions

17. Magic and Morality    

  • Jacqueline Borsje (Amsterdam): Gluttony and magic
  • Tara Williams (Oregon State University): Moral Chaucer and Magical Gower
  • Carole Maddern (Goldsmiths): 'In Rome was swich oon': Virgil the Necromancer
  • Robert Epstein (Fairfield University): Magical Properties: The Anthropology of Sorcery and Ownership in Medieval Romance

18. Vision    

  • Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University): Lyric Devices: Toward a New Cultural History of Medieval Eyeglasses
  • Victoria Flood (Phillips-Universität Marburg/ University of Durham): ‘With a look his herte wex a-fere’: The ‘Aggressive Eyes Topos’ and Chaucerian Tragedy
  • Jacqueline Tasioulas (Cambridge)  Recognition and the ‘Idole of ane Thyng’ in Henryson and Chaucer
  • David Raybin (Eastern Illinois University): Stories of Canterbury: Chaucer and the Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral

17.45-18.45    Plenary 2:

Lisa H Cooper (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 'On Location: Agronomy and Other Affective Arts'

19.00    Conference dinner at Antalya

Registration fees:

Standard fee: £65; 

IES students/members concessionary fee: £45

For further information check the conference homepage at


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