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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 “Ballad to the Court of Good Company in honor of Henri Somer,” “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 COVID19 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@gmail.com.

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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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