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Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo Conference 2014

Archiving Time: Remediation and Temporality in Medieval Literature

Media are spaces of action for constructed attempts to connect what is separated. ~Siegfried Zielinski, The Deep Time of Media

As medieval studies continues to grapple with the new questions raised and methodologies introduced by media theory, a fresh dimension is added to a central interest of the field. When considering how communities formed in, through, and around medieval texts, the process of remediation—that is, the representation of one medium within another – alters the kinds and qualities of communities we examine. Whether they remediate speech, books and codices, forms of writing such as runes and Latinate scripts, or even non-verbal methods of communication such as monastic sign language or the ringing of bells, the medieval texts we study engage and create communities through the complex representation of different methods of communication.

Following on the success of our panel “Critical Remediation” at the 2013 medieval congress, we propose a session that will continue to address the insights of media theory for medieval studies, and situate our inquiries in particular relation to the study of communities. Our central question for 2014: What is the relationship between remediation and time? One of the enduring insights of Paul Strohm’s Theory and the Pre-Modern Text is his illumination of the connections between time and the archive. In describing Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde as a “temporal archive,” he notes that “no text fails to bear within itself a range of alien temporalities, imported into its bounds as unavoidable part and parcel of the words and images of which it is made” (80-81). Strohm’s argument does not directly address the role of media in this vision of temporal archives in literature, but by making the connection between a temporal archive and an archive of media, we can better understand how the history of communication intersects with the history of media in the medieval period. Remediation—the re-presentation of one medium in another—has a very specific temporal valence that operates in a non-linear logic. That is, as Bolter and Gruisin observe, while new media can certainly represent older forms of media and comment upon them, it is also possible for old media to remediate new ones. As a result of this dual motion, time becomes a more fluid vehicle for changes in aesthetics – remediation is not solely the result of a belatedness of transmission from old to new, but can simultaneously create pockets of what Siegfried Zielinski terms “Deep Time of Media,” in which older forms of media that do not lead to teleological progress are sought out and studied.

In this panel, we seek papers that, in the tradition of such critics as Martin Foys and Seeta Chaganti, propose the study of a medieval “deep time of media,” one that illuminates the ways in which we understand the impact and interactions between medieval literature, temporality, and media theory. Questions that might be addressed include: How does remediation in medieval literature relate to temporality and the presentation of time? Do medieval texts use remediation merely to reflect on times and technologies past, or do they create alternative, nonlinear temporalities? Do these temporalities form archives, networks, assemblages, or even communities of their own? What do these temporalities look like, and how can they help us to better understand the creation of communities, textual and otherwise, in and around medieval texts?

This panel has been sponsored by the Department of English at Florida International University, and we welcome one-page proposals (250-300 words) from scholars of all levels. They may be sent along with a completed Participant Information Form (found at http:/www.wmich.edumedieval/congress/submissions/index.html) to Heather Blatt (Florida International University) and Mary Kate Hurley (Columbia University) at by September 15, 2013. Feel welcome to contact us with questions about the session. For general information about the 2014 Medieval Congress, visit: http:/www.wmich.edumedieval/congress/.

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