Recovering Hoccleve: A Series on Teaching Hoccleve

On Hoccleve Recovery Day, the International Hoccleve Society invites scholars and teachers of medieval literature to contribute to a new, ongoing series about teaching the works of Thomas Hoccleve. How have you incorporated Hoccleve’s works into the syllabi of your medieval literature classes, survey courses, or other teaching endeavors? How do you teach themes of mental illness, disability, and recovery? What are ways to make Hoccleve’s late medieval bureaucratic culture intelligible to today’s students? What activities and exercises do you use to help students engage with Hoccleve’s texts?

As part of the society’s on-going efforts to promote the use and study of Hoccleve’s works, we seek contributions that describe and offer critical commentary on short exercises, assignments, long-term projects, and other pedagogical activities. These can pertain to The Series, Regiment of Princes, short poems, or any other aspect of Hoccleve’s life and works. We welcome all pedagogical approaches and theoretical methodologies. Through regular features on our website and social media accounts, we seek to build a platform for pedagogical discussion and exchange.

We welcome submissions of any length to be sent to Elon Lang at elon.lang@gmail.com with CC to Ruen-chuan Ma at rma@uvu.edu, in docx or PDF format. Please include in your submission a 200-500 word description of how you implement the exercise or use the materials in your lessons. Publication of these exercises will be accepted on a rolling basis and released at intervals after review by the Hoccleve Society organizing committee and follow-up communication with the author.

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Call for Papers: “Rediscovering Hoccleve” at Kalamazoo 2020

The International Hoccleve Society is pleased to invite abstracts for a sponsored session at the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 7-10, 2020) at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI:

Rediscovering Hoccleve

This session proposes to explore Hocclevean discovery, broadly construed: what it means to discover and re-discover Thomas Hoccleve and his works—in all their anxieties, politics, ethics, and self-representations. Recent scholarship has seen a fruitful upsurge in approaches to Hoccleve’s work, from such theoretical lenses as disability studies and affect theory to book-length studies from David Watt and Sebastian Langdell interrogating, respectively, the poetic processes and ecclesiological investments that shape Hoccleve’s writing. New discoveries about Hoccleve’s life and literary output continue to emerge from archival research, allowing us to revisit how we read Hoccleve’s work through an autobiographical lens, specifically the intersection of the historical scribe and bureaucrat with the narrating persona that we meet in his poetry.

We therefore invite papers that take up new directions for Hoccleve studies, re-visit Hoccleve’s poetics in light of new discoveries about the poet and his fifteenth-century environment, or witness Hoccleve articulating discoveries of his own. What can emergent ideas from theoretical sites such as new and feminist materialisms or surface reading allow us to discover in Hoccleve? How might theories not often applied to Hoccleve, such as ecocriticism or postcolonial theory, engender new readings of this poetry? How does Hoccleve’s poetry itself engage with discovery and newness; how does Hoccleve make and manage his own discoveries in the literary and historical archive that situates him? And finally, how do readers and critics discover Hoccleve? How has he been read by succeeding generations leading up the present and rediscovered by scholars who have worked to rehabilitate him; how do we, in our own fraught political and ideological context, discover Hoccleve anew?

Paper proposals or questions about the session may be directed to Arwen Taylor at hocclevesociety@gmail.com. Proposals are due by September 15, 2019; please send a completed Participant Information Form along with your submission.

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Call for Papers: Thomas Hoccleve and his “Maistir Gower,” 2020

The International Hoccleve Society is pleased to be sponsoring a session at the Fifth International Congress of the John Gower Society, which will be held 29 June to 1 July 2020 at the University of Notre Dame.

Thomas Hoccleve and his “Maistir Gower:” Words, Books, Heritage

Near the end of the Prologue to his Regiment of Princes, Thomas Hoccleve laments the fact that Death has not only slain “my maistir Chaucer” (1962) but also “My maister Gower…whos vertu I am insufficient / for to descryve” (1975-77). Historically, critics have made much of Hoccleve’s subservient relationship to Chaucer as well as his insufficiency to describe many things. They have paid comparatively less attention to Hoccleve’s relationship with Gower. This session aims to change that.

The Fifth International Congress of the John Gower Society offers an ideal opportunity to explore Hoccleve’s relationship with the man whom Charles Blyth called “Hoccleve’s other Master.” Since the publication of Blyth’s article by that name three decades ago, there have been significant developments in the study of both Gower and Hoccleve: new documents pertaining to their lives have been discovered, the value of their poetry has been re-considered from different perspectives, and the transmission of their work has attracted much interest. This session’s aim is to bring some of these developments to bear on our understanding of any aspect of the relationship between these two authors.

The theme for the congress is “Gower in Contexts: His Words, His Books, His Heritage.” In their call for papers, the congress organizers encourage prospective presenters to understand this theme to include interpretative, linguistic or stylistic discussions of poetry; the study of publication (manuscript and print); and the identification of sources and influence.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words in length and should be sent to David Watt at the University of Manitoba (david.watt@umanitoba.ca) by August 25, 2019. Please feel free to be in touch beforehand if you have any questions or suggestions.

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The International Hoccleve Society Sponsors the 5th Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day: Self-Care and Cultures of Overwork

On November 1, c. 1415, Alle Hallowmesse, Thomas Hoccleve’s period of mental illness came to an end as his wits returned to him—which allowed him to return to his twofold program of work, as a poet and at the Privy Seal. Scribal work was hard—and potentially dangerous to body, mind, soul, and pocketbook—and Hoccleve didn’t let readers of his poetry forget this. His Friend from the eponymous “Dialogue with Friend” even suggests Hoccleve may have been a victim of overwork, his mental affliction caused by his “bisy studie” (line 302).

Yet, as critics have noted, Hoccleve believed work was a sort of cure, if not for his illness then at least for his subsequent problem of alienation from his associates. He chastises his friend for his suspicions, declaring that his “Complaint” ought to be sufficient evidence of his recovery (lines 317-18).

This November 1, we face our own maddening onslaught of work, with midterms and holiday preparations, and many of us will habitually feel like we never quite get enough done. Let us remember Hoccleve and his ultimately optimistic view of scribal labor and the relationship between writing, memory and selfhood. We celebrate both Thomas Hoccleve’s work and his recovery, reflecting on how our own work seeks to recover Middle English poetry and evidence of late medieval life, and on the personal and public importance of that work.

Please join us on Recovery Day through social media by posting your thoughts or thematically pertinent medieval quotations and images to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and our society’s website with the hashtag #Hoccleve. Look out for our own posts on our site and our Hoccleve Lyfe Coache, Twitter and Facebook feeds; and “like” or retweet items throughout the day under the #Hoccleve hashtag followed by any other tags you’d like, such as #recovery, #thisiswhataprofessorlookslike, #MiddleEnglish, or #MSilluminations. Please follow us, participate, and “like” us to stay tuned!

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Call for Papers Kalamazoo 2019

Identity in Public Contexts: Hoccleve and Langland in Conversation

While scholars often note that Hoccleve’s and Langland’s poetic personae each make the other more understandable, rarely have these poets been analyzed together in great detail. Thus, with this session, The International Hoccleve Society and International Piers Plowman Society seek to provide an occasion to do so. The Societies invite paper submissions that examine the ways interpretive discourses around Hoccleve’s and Langland’s works overlap and intersect. On the broadly-defined topic of public identity-formation, participants might consider how these poets construct identities for themselves, or for other identifiable social groups–asking: how and why might Langland and Hoccleve distinguish specifically public identities from each other and from private identity? Participants might also explore the politicization of identity, such as in late-medieval satire and advice on good governance in the context of 14th and 15th century political struggles. Other related questions might include: how do medieval depictions of writing as labor reveal interfaces between discourses of interiority and political speech? Or, how were revision and editing used by poets and scribes–like Hoccleve and Langland–as a means for their own (or others’) social/political rehabilitation? How do either or both poets position themselves in relation to religious or professional communities that are themselves enmeshed in complex public and private interconnections?

Please send 150-300 word paper proposals that engage with these topics or others that suggest ways that Hoccleve and Langland might be put into conversation with each other to Elon Lang, elon.lang@gmail.com, by September 15, 2018. Please send a completed Participant Information Form (available on the Conference website in July 2018) along with your submission, noting your A/V requirements.

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The Making of Thomas Hoccleve (6-8 July 2016): Registration and Conference Information

The first IHS Conference is less than a month away. “The Making of Thomas Hoccleve” will be held in Winnipeg from July 6-8, 2018, and we have a great program lined up. This conference is open to other members of the society as well. How do you join, you ask? One way to join is to attend the conference. There is no fee for the conference or the society. If you plan to attend, please click here to register by June 18 so that we can confirm our catering and transportation.

 

Program

Thomas Hoccleve has become increasingly prominent over the past twenty-five years, yet this conference is the first meeting dedicated solely to studying him since a conference in London in 1994. We are still finalizing some information on the program, which you can find here: http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/departments/humanities/4225.html.  If you would like to chair a session, please let us know.

Foreign Travel

If you are a citizen of Australia or the UK and entering the UK by plane (not land or sea, for some mysterious reason), you will need an ETA. If you do require an ETA please visit this website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp. I believe the process is fairly quick, but please do this before departing for the airport. I believe that US citizens only require a passport. However, Rules and requirements can and do change with little warning, so we encourage you to consult this site even if you travel regularly: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp. If you are a citizen of another country, you may need to provide biometrics, please visit this website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/biometrics.asp to find out more. Finally, if you require a formal letter of invitation, please contact Paul Jenkins, who will be happy to supply one.

Accommodation and Travel within Winnipeg

Conference presenters will be staying at the Inn at the Forks. If you take a bus or a cab from the airport, it should take around 10-15 minutes by cab (recommended) to arrive. There are many other hotel options in Winnipeg, but please get in touch with David Watt or Paul Jenkins (email addresses below) if you would like some advice about particular hotels or if you would like to stay on campus.

Please note that the University of Manitoba is not downtown. We have therefore arranged transportation between the Inn at the Forks and the U of M campus. Please be ready to join us at 8:30 a.m. outside the Inn at the Forks if you would like a ride to the U of M campus each day of the conference, but please also make sure we know you are coming.

Food and Drink

We have arranged for refreshments and lunches at the conference that will be at no cost to participants.  We are also organizing a conference dinner on Saturday night. If you would like to attend that, please let us know.

The University of Manitoba

The U of M was founded in 1877, though some of its affiliated colleges are older. Its campuses are located on original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation. We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

Funding

This conference is generously funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Research Manitoba, the Arts Endowment fund, and the University of Manitoba Conference Sponsorship Program. It is also supported by several units at the University of Manitoba: the Institute for the Humanities; the Archives & Special Collections; the Faculty of Arts; the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media; Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal; the Department of Religion; the Department of History; and St John’s College.

Other Matters

Please note that the exchange rate is approximately $1 CAD to $ 0.75-80 USD at the moment. If you have any questions about any of the above, please contact David Watt (david.watt@umanitoba.ca). If you have any issues with the registration page, please get in touch with Paul Jenkins (umih@umanitoba.ca).

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Hoccleve at Kalamazoo 2018: Highlights

The Hoccleve society partnered with the Lydgate Society to sponsor a session this year. Thank you to Danielle Bradley for writing this excellent recap.

Hoccleve, Lydgate, and their Patrons (Session 172)

This year’s joint panel co-sponsored by the Hoccleve and Lydgate Societies explored the two poets within the context of one of the most powerful forces shaping late medieval poetry—patronage. The three panelists generally view Lydgate and Hoccleve taking control over their poetic content, catering to patrons while also subtly criticizing their influence and constructing alternative networks for the production and consumption of literature.

R. D. Perry’s “Naming Names: Creating an Audience in Hoccleve and Lydgate,” an extension of his piece soon to appear in Speculum, posits that these poets envisioned “coteries” comprised of significant potential patrons and other artists. Coteries function like a virtual creative space, inscribing proper poet-patron relations into the very form of a piece while harnessing the creative dynamism of a salon environment. Lydgate’s broader networks and prolificacy lent greater flexibility to his coteries, while Hoccleve necessarily played the role of the careful suppliant. Perry argues that both poets strategically name historic and contemporary writers to set the proper stage for their works, but that Hoccleve’s more intimate associations deserve attention for the great stock he set by proper names—especially that of Chaucer. Hoccleve also deploys silences strategically, for instance leaving Christine de Pizan unnamed in his “Letter of Cupid” as the composer of his source material; Perry believes this tacit nod to a well-known writer is meant to show Henry IV, who may have commissioned the piece, just how “in the know” Hoccleve was and how ideal he would be as an English version of Christine, writing for the Crown.

Leah Schwebel’s “Imperial and Literary Lineage in Lydgate’s Troy Book” also deals with poetic naming, and the significance of silences when a name goes conspicuously unuttered. Schwebel attempts to move beyond interpretive binaries that mark Lydgate as either antagonistic or sycophantic towards Chaucer, by showing that Lydgate engaged in complex naming strategies borrowed from Chaucer himself. She notes that Chaucer is both excessively present in and excessively absent from the Troy Book, and much like Chaucer “erases” his sources by declining to name them, Lydgate suggests Chaucer’s source Lollius for his Troy epic Troilus and Criseyde may be untrustworthy and thus launches into a discourse on Lydgate’s own status as truth-teller.

Mimi Ensley’s “Monuments, Memory, and Patronage in Lydgate’s Guy of Warwick” underscores the importance of poetry as a site of memory construction and dissemination in late medieval England. Lydgate curated the axe with which Guy drove the Danes from England into a religiously and militarily potent indicator of the prowess and importance of Guy’s heirs, Lydgate’s patron Margaret Talbot and the Beauchamp family. Much like a poet can immortalize and memorialize a family or political regime through a poetic genealogy, so Lydgate and his contemporaries might name their source material as an authorizing gesture.

It is clear, then, that patronage generated major opportunities as well as obstacles to Middle English poets, and while Hoccleve may have engaged in a similar balancing act as his contemporaries between assertiveness and silence, his greater precariousness impacted his formal poetic strategies. Our three panelists assert that patronage is a tool serving greater poetic ends, and as respondent Bobby Meyer-Lee pointed out, Hoccleve seems to be writing for “desired” rather than actual patrons, or even “invisible patrons” in the case of a poem like “Letter of Cupid” that may not have been officially commissioned. A vital avenue to pursue when studying these works is not simply how artists responded to patrons, but to each other, viewing other artists as audience members or even participants in the creative process who were all endeavoring to reveal themselves as heirs to a legitimate literary pedigree.

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