CFP! The May Poems of Thomas Hoccleve: a ‘Hoccleve at Home’ Workshop and Discussion (ICMS Kalamazoo 2022)

As that I walkid in the monthe of May

Besyde a groue in an heuy musynge,

Floures dyuerse I sy, right fressh and gay,

And briddes herde, I eek lustyly synge,

That to myn herte yaf a confortynge.

 “Ballad for Master Robert Chichele” lines 1-5

As participants of the International Congress on Medieval Studies, we fondly recall spending the early Michigan springtime together walking around the verdant campus of WMU and the flowering tree-lined streets of Kalamazoo, and we long to do so again soon. To honor the conviviality of this medievalist tradition, the International Hoccleve Society invites Middle English readers at any stage of their careers to join us for a workshop and discussion on Thomas Hoccleve’s “May Poems.” These mid-length lyrics, including the “The Court of Good Company,” “L’epistre de Cupide”, and the “Ballad for Master Robert Chichele” are rarely discussed together because of their very different occasions of composition: one is a begging poem, another a defense of women, and the third an appeal to the Virgin for spiritual absolution. That said, they are all explicitly set in the month of May and they all share formal and thematic qualities that Hoccleve is known for throughout his oeuvre, including a sustained use of seasonal symbolism to create motifs of rebirth and renewal. 

In this 90-minute workshop, the Hoccleve Society proposes to assemble an online panel of workshop facilitators to share their approaches to teaching and analyzing these poems and to lead an interactive discussion about the relationships between these texts. This format is designed to build on the very successful series of online talks and discussions called “Hoccleve at Home” that the Society has sponsored throughout 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the total time for introductory presentations by panelists will be limited to 35-45 minutes to leave plenty of time for a discussion of the readings among facilitators and attendees (the readings will be made available in advance of the Congress on our website). We are particularly interested in having facilitators on the panel who can present a variety of interpretive approaches to these texts, including, but not limited to, historical contextualization of their settings and moments of creation (particularly as revealed by extant manuscripts), exploration of gender politics and performance in the lyrics, examination of Hoccleve’s translation from French sources (acknowledged and unacknowledged), and analysis of formal and metrical qualities of Hoccleve’s verse. 

Scholars interested in joining the panel to present a 5 to 7-minute introduction and discussion prompt may contact Elon Lang at elon.lang@gmail.com, Ruen-chuan Ma at RMa@uvu.edu, or Sebastian Langdell at Sebastian_Langdell@baylor.edu by September 15, 2021.

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