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Posts from the ‘BABELworks’ Category


postmedieval 4.3: Fault


Introducing the winners of the first biennial Michael Camille essay prize (Eileen A. Joy [BABEL Working Group])


Lions and Latour litanies in The Sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt (Haylie Swenson [George Washington University])

Time mechanics: The modern Geoffrey Chaucer and the medieval Jack Spicer (David Hadbawnik [SUNY Buffalo])

From medieval saint to modern bête noire: The case of the Vitae Æthelwoldi (Alison Hudson [Oriel College, Oxford])


Edited by Anna Kłosowska (Miami University)


From Oulipo to al-Ṣafadī: Fault, the absurd, parody and error in medieval and early modern literature (Anna Kłosowska [Miami University])

Fumblr: The academic failblog (Asa Simon Mittman [California State Chico] and Shyama Rajendran [George Washington University]

Anticipatory plagiarism and the ex post facto–garde (Chris Piuma [University of Toronto])

Recycling topology as topos in music and narrative: Machaut, Bach, Möbius, Coetzee, Josipovici, and composition (Brian Macaskill [John Carroll University])

Presently old: Time according to three early modern codices (Heather Bamford [George Washington University])

Memorialization in white: Chaucerian topology and the defaute of subjectivity (Wan-Chuan Kao [Washington and Lee University])

Play and display: al-Ṣafadī’s Invention of Absurdity (Kelly Tuttle [Earlham College])


Carmen et Error (Stephen Murphy [Wake Forest University])

T. Conley, An Errant Eye: Poetry and Topography in Early Modern France (University of Minnesota Press, 2011 )

S. Lerer, Error and the Academic Self: The Scholarly Imagination, Medieval to Modern (Columbia University Press, 2002)

F. Rigolot, L’Erreur de la Renaissance: Perspectives littéraires (Honoré Champion, 2002)

G. Teskey, Delirious Milton: The Fate of the Poet in Modernity (Harvard University Press, 2006) 

J. Yates, Error Misuse Failure: Object Lessons from the English Renaissance (University of Minnesota, 2002)

[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]

postmedieval 4.2: Medieval Mobilities


“The world is my home when I’m mobile”: Medieval Mobilities  (Laurie Finke, Martin B. Shichtman, and Kathleen Coyne Kelly)


A Restless Medieval? Archaeological and Saga-steads in the Viking Age North Atlantic  (Douglas J. Bolender [Field Museum of Natural History] and Oscar Aldred [Newcastle University]
Have Dante Will Travel: On the Limitations of Personal Mobility (Daniel Hartnett [Kenyon College])
Der guote Gêrhart: The Power of Mobility in the Medieval Mediterranean (William Crooke [East Tennessee State University])
Mobile Language Networks and Medieval Travel Writing  (Jonathan Hsy [George Washington University])
Ruins in Motion (Heather Bamford [Texas State University-San Marcos])
Virtual Mobility: Landscape and Dreamscape in a Late Medieval Allegory (Anne Harris [DePauw University])
Flea and ANT: Mapping the Mobility of the Plague, 1330s-1350s (Kathleen Coyne Kelly [Northeastern University])


Medieval Worlds and Mad Max  (John Urry [University of Lancaster])


Transmedieval Mattering and the Untimeliness of the Real Presence (Kathleen Biddick [Temple University])

*reviewing: Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke UP, 2007);
Jane Bennett,Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Duke UP, 2010);
Lanfranc, On the Body and Blood of the Lord and Guitmund of Aversa, On the Truth of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, trans. by M.G. Vaillancourt (Catholic U America P, 2009); and
Eric Santner, The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgame of Sovereignty (U Chicago P, 2011).

[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]

ANNOUNCING punctum records: a sound-impress of punctum books

Shivery Shakes_PBR_1

We are thrilled to announce  the launching of punctum records: a sound-impress of punctum books, with an initial 7″-single release by Austin, Texas band Shivery Shakes — “Sidewalk Talk” — later this summer. punctum records aims to build a label that will house a rowdy assemblage of muscians, sound/noise artists, acoustic technologists, musicologists, and sound theorists. Although we are still somewhat “under construction,” we share with you below our vision statement and Advisory Board, and you can also check out the label’s website HERE, plus follow us on FacebookTwitter(@punctumrecords), Soundcloud, and Tumblr.

punctum records: vision statement

Learning to listen is the intentional task of solidarity; listening in tension.

~ Ultra-red

What happens when you begin to realize another world is possible — that’s art.

~ DJ Spooky

punctum records: a sound-impress of punctum books, is an open-access & vinyl publisher of music and other sonic forms that take creative, slantwise-flying leaps, tarry in the archive of sensible forms, build pleasurably noisy pandemoniums, and seek to make sound an interventionist medium of both disruption and connection. Discography as fever dream, house party, rhythmic riot. Sound as connective tissue, tactical media, ambient rain.

punctum records is an experiment in bringing together cultural theorists, musciologists, sound artists, and musicians as lovers and fighters in the ruins of the arts and humanities at a moment when information-noise overload meets a flattening out of channels and platforms for the sustainable dissemination of music, sonic art, and theory. punctum records is placing a wager on the label, or publishing house, as an important domain for a collective-activist experiment in the construction of what Ivan Illich called “tools for conviviality,” and for developing sound-styles that would “give priority to the protection, the maximum use, and the enjoyment of … personal energy under personal control.”[1] In affinity with punctum books’s commitment to fostering para-academic shelters for the cultivation of open, vagabond publics, punctum records is bent on “pressing” an unruly crowd of sounds into the ventilating system called the cultural commons, and on playing the shadow-demon-parasite-prod-supplement to the so-called “music industry.” Sound label as field of play, wandering group house, rogue frequency.

punctum records invites theorists, musicians, and sound artists (or any combination thereof) to propose singles, mixtapes, EPs, LPs, audiocasts, soundscapes, operas, discographies, acoustical memes, noise art, sound waves, librettos, samplers, wave emissions, soundscapes, audio channels, sonic fictions, field recordings, fugues, listening devices, radio broadcasts, digital sound exhibits, sonic archaeologies, audio-loops, acoustic manuals, ambient backgrounds, echo chambers, musical algorithms, choral reefs, mashups, soundtracks, live recordings, sound/spoken word poetry, sound-walls, earworms, interstellar messages, improvisational sessions, digital concerts, transcriptions, busking performances, and sonic-theory compositions of any kind. Read more »


Transparent Things: A Cabinet [new from punctum books]

Transparent-Things_Cover_WebTransparent Things: A Cabinet

Edited by Maggie M. Williams and Karen Eileen Overbey

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2013. 88 pages + illus. ISBN-13: 978-0615790374.
OPEN-ACCESS e-book + $15.00 [€13.00] in print.

Published: 2013-03-28

Download book

Inspired by a passage in Vladmir Nabokov’s Transparent Things (1972), and also compiled as a future love letter to The Material Collective, the essays collected here play with the transparency of pedagogy, scholarship, and writing, as well as with objects that can be seen through, such as crystals and stained glass. As Nabokov wrote,

When we concentrate on a material object, whatever its situation, the very act of attention may lead to our involuntarily sinking into the history of that object. Novices must learn to skim over matter if they want matter to stay at the exact level of the moment. Transparent things, through which the past shines!

For the art and literary historians gathered together in this volume (Angela Bennett Segler, Jennifer Borland, Karen Eileen Overbey, Nancy Thompson, and Maggie M. Williams), all students of medieval material, these tensions between surface and depth, present and past, concentration and skimming are all too familiar. The inherent contradictions of medieval objects, their irreducibility to either the purely intellectual or the merely physical, are at once the delights and the dangers of the art historian’s work. This book thus offeres a dialogue on the question of how our encounters with physical things spark a process and how objects might allow unique collisions between the past and the present, the human and the inanimate, the practice of history and lived experience. As works of medieval studies or art history, these essays are incomplete, awkward, and provisional. Some of them may even read like embarrassing teenage poetry. This collection is like that dusty box in the basement: it is full of raw, unedited, transparent expressions of affect, of the sort we have learned to hide.

Table of Contents: Maggie M. Williams and Karen Eileen Overbey — “Introduction: Dear Material Collective”; Karen Eileen Overbey — “Reflections on the Surface, or, Notes for a Tantric Art History”; Jennifer Borland — “Encountering the Inauthentic”; Angela Bennett Segler — “Touched for the Very First Time: Losing My Manuscript Virginity”; Nancy Thompson — “Close Encounters with Luminous Objects”


[visit punctum books]


postmedieval 4.1: Ecomaterialism



Howl (Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert)


Earth: A wandering (Alfred Kentigern Siewers)

Road  (Valerie Allen)

A poetics of nothing: Air in the early modern imagination  (Steve Mentz)

Cloud/land – An Onto-story  (Julian Yates)

Water love (Sharon O’Dair)

Glacier (Lowell Duckert)

Fire (Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Stephanie Trigg)

Abyss: Everything is food  (Karl Steel)


The elements (Jane Bennett)


Medieval ecocriticism (Vin Nardizzi)

[see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]


Speculative Medievalisms [new from punctum books]

Speculative Medievalisms: Discography

Edited by The Petropunk Collective (Eileen A. Joy, Anna KlosowskaNicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke)

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2013. 316 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0615749532.
specmedOPEN-ACCESS e-book and $17.00 (€15.00) in print.

Published: 2013-01-17




Sicut sensus non potest sentire sine sensibili, ita anima non potest intelligere sine phantasmate (Thomas Aquinas)

Proceedings from the two Speculative Medievalisms symposia, held at King’s College London (Jan. 2011) and The Graduate Center, City University of New York (Sep. 2011), and organized by The Petropunk Collective (Eileen Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke). These interdisciplinary events were dedicated to dialogue and cross-contamination between traditional concepts of speculatio, present-minded premodern studies, and contemporary speculative realist and object-oriented philosophies. In its medieval formulation, speculatio signifies the essentially reflective and imaginative operations of the intellect. Here the world, books, and mind itself are all conceived as specula (mirrors) through which the hermeneutic gaze can gain access to what lies beyond it. “To know is to bend over a mirror where the world is reflected, to descry images reflected from sphere to sphere: the medieval man was always before a mirror, both when he looked around himself and when he surrendered to his own imagination” (Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas).  Correlatively, speculative realism, as the term suggests, is characterized by the self-contradictory intensity of a desire for thought that can think beyond itself — a desire that proceeds, like all philosophy, in a twisted and productive relation to the phantasm of the word.

Aiming to rise above and tunnel below the thought-being or self-world correlation, speculative realism “depart[s] from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage[s] in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself” (The Speculative Turn). Speculative Medievalisms, like some weird friar-alchemist in an inexistent romance, plays the erotic go-between for these text-centered and text-eccentric intellectual domains by trying to transmute the space between past and present modes of speculation from shared blindness to love at first sight. Possibly succeeding, the volume brings together the work of a motley crew of philosophers and premodernists into prismatic relation. Read more »


Critical/Liberal/Arts: A BABEL Symposia Series [2013]

cloudsCritical/Liberal/Arts: A BABEL Symposia Series [2013]


University of California, Irvine
19 April 2013


The Graduate Center, CUNY
27 September 2013

The “hermeneutics of suspicion” has fallen under suspicion. There has been a turn against “critique” and away from “paranoid reading.” Yet critique — understood to encompass heterogeneous practices of judgment and pursuits of justice — has not outlived its usefulness. Critical/Liberal/Arts is a project and event-space seeking new articulations and performances of critique’s timeliness for a one-day symposium at UC Irvine in April 2013, followed by another at the Graduate Center, CUNY in September 2013, with both symposia to be documented in a special double-issue of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. We have been inspired by the recent experiments of thinkers and artists who are crafting, composing, curating, inventing, agitating, building, healing, resisting, and playing as ways of inquiring into the limits and consequences of our world. Presenters are invited to think about critique in proximity to other modes of action, especially those of making and creation — to discover creation and critique inhering in one another, or wending apart, or crossing one another again and again like a pair of knives being whetted, or like the faces of the proverbial Mobius strip.

We hazard that many of the categories used to distinguish modes of knowledge production are in practice overlapping or entwined: distance and involvement; criticism and aestheticism; sensation and reflection; detachment and attachment; interrogation and incorporation; control and loss of control before the objects of our study. A survey of the humanities and social sciences at present turns up projects that transcend traditional rubrics and do not remain in their respective fields at all — but rather cross out of academia and continue on to other planes of social practice. These projects represent serious commitments to tinkering, mapping, constructing, organizing, blogging, protesting, ornamenting, fantasizing, occupying, and more. We invite accounts of practices from inside and outside of the university that might be counted among the new arts of critique, or new modes of critical creation. Read more »


postmedieval 3.4: The Intimate Senses


Intimate Senses/Sensing Intimacy (Holly Dugan and Lara Farina)


Transcending, othering, detecting: Smell, premodernity, modernity (Mark M. Smith)

The play of skin in The Changeling (Patricia Cahill)

Sense and simulacra: Manipulation of the senses in medieval ‘copies’ of Jerusalem (Laura D. Gelfand)

The city out of breath: Jacobean city comedy and the odors of restraint (Hristomir A. Stanev)

Revolting anatomy in the Farce nouvelle des cinq sens de l’homme (Julie Singer)


The cultural life of the senses (David Howe)

On sensory history and contemporary placemaking in the social sciences (Mark Paterson)

A neuroscientific perspective on medieval intimacies (Jonathan Cole)

A third ear in the intimate senses? (Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren)

As if our friends felt the sun for us (Georgina Kleege)


Books and bodies, literature and the senses in the early middle ages (Clare A. Lees)

 [see postmedieval site at Palgrave for more information on this and other issues]


Dark Chaucer [new from punctum books]

Dark Chaucer coverDark Chaucer: An Assortment

Edited by Myra SeamanEileen A. Joy & Nicola Masciandaro

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2012. 224 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0615701073.

OPEN-ACCESS e-book or $15.00 [€13.00] in print.

Published: 2012-12-23



Although widely beloved for its playfulness and comic sensibility, Chaucer’s poetry is also subtly shot through with dark moments that open into obscure and irresolvably haunting vistas, passages into which one might fall head-first and never reach the abyssal bottom, scenes and events where everything could possibly go horribly wrong or where everything that matters seems, if even momentarily, altogether and irretrievably lost. And then sometimes, things really do go wrong. Opting to dilate rather than cordon off this darkness, this volume assembles a variety of attempts to follow such moments into their folds of blackness and horror, to chart their endless sorrows and recursive gloom, and to take depth soundings in the darker recesses of the Chaucerian lakes in order to bring back palm- or bite-sized pieces (black jewels) of bitter Chaucer that could be shared with others . . . an “assortment,” if you will. Not that this collection finds only emptiness and non-meaning in these caves and lakes. You never know what you will discover in the dark.

Contents: Candace Barrington, “Dark Whiteness: Benjamin Brawley and Chaucer” – Brantley L. Bryant & Alia, “Saturn’s Darkness” – Ruth Evans, “A Dark Stain and a Non-Encounter” – Gaelan Gilbert, “Chaucerian Afterlives: Reception and Eschatology” – Leigh Harrison, “Black Gold: The Former (and Future) Age” – Nicola Masciandaro, “Half Dead: Parsing Cecelia” – J. Allan Mitchell, “In the Event of the Franklin’s Tale”– Travis Neel & Andrew Richmond, “Black as the Crow” – Hannah Priest, “Unravelling Constance” – Lisa Schamess, “L’O de V: A Palimpsest” – Myra Seaman, “Disconsolate Art” – Karl Steel, “Kill Me, Save Me, Let Me Go: Custance, Virginia, Emelye” – Elaine Treharne, “The Physician’s Tale as Hagioclasm” – Bob Valasek, “The Light has Lifted: Pandare Trickster” – Lisa Weston, “Suffer the Little Children, or, A Rumination on the Faith of Zombies” – Thomas White, “The Dark Is Light Enough: The Layout of the Tale of Sir Thopas.” This assortment of dark morsels also features a prose-poem Preface by Gary Shipley.

[visit punctum books]


cruising in the ruins: the question of disciplinarity in the post/medieval university [from punctum books]

by BABEL Working Group

Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2012. 95 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0615697659. Free download.

Published: 2012-09-10
To download the book, go HERE.

This small book comprises the program of the 2nd Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group, hosted by Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts from 20-22 September 2012, and co-hosted by Boston College, College of Charleston, George Washington University’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute, Harvard University, M.I.T., Palgrave Macmillan, punctum books, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Tufts University.

Featured Speakers: Jane Bennett, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, David Kaiser, Marget Long, and Sans façon [Charles Blanc and Tristan Surtees].

Sessions: The Inter-Discipline of Pedagogy; Getting Medieval on Medieval Studies; Medieval Touchscreen; Families Old and New; Going Postal: Networks, Affect, and Retro-Technologies; Digging in the Ruins: Medievalism and the Uncanny in the University [I & II]; Future-Philology; Intellectual Crimes: Theft, Punking, and Roguish Behavior; Impure Collaborations; Enjoying the End (Again); Textual Fault-Lines; All In a Jurnal’s Work: A BABEL Wayzgoose; Ecomaterialism; The Urmadic University; Synaesthetics: Sensory Integration Against the Disciplines; Hoarders/Hordes; Parts, Wholes, and the New; Will It Blend? Equipping the Humanities Lab; What Is Critical Thinking?; #Occupy Boston: Humanities and Praxis; Se7en Undeadly ScIeNceS: The Trivium and Quadrivium in the Multiforking University; Wild Fermentation: Disciplined Knowledge and Drink; The Historiographic Ghost. Read more »

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