Chivalry and its Anxieties: 1000-1600

We invite proposals for papers, sessions, or roundtable discussions for an upcoming conference to be held at Saint Louis University on June 19-21, 2017. This mini-conference, held during the Fifth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, aims to bring together scholars from across disciplines to consider questions of chivalric culture and warfare. Conceptions of chivalry tend to lean toward one of two extremes: valorizing and romanticizing knighthood, as chivalric fiction and knights themselves so often did, or the opposite, condemning knights as murderous thugs and dismissing chivalry as a self-deceiving sham. The knightly vocation was in many ways a difficult one - considering not only the physical hardships of war, but also the moral ambiguities and pragmatic hazards of wielding power, dispensing justice and violence, and winning and preserving status and reputation. What was the relationship of chivalry, theoretically the guiding ethos of the professional warrior class, to the actual challenges faced by knights? If it was applicable to knights’ ordinary activities, what kind of guidance did it offer? This conference will consider how chivalric precepts and attitudes intersected with the realities of knightly life.

Preliminary guiding questions for proposals include:

• How did chivalry interact with warfare, in conception and/or practice?
• What were the implications of chivalry for gender, for the performance and policing of masculinity, for idealized versus real-life relations with women?
• How did chivalric notions of honorable conduct in war interact with the more theoretical doctrines of just war and/or the law of arms?
• In what ways might chivalric fiction have had echoes in knightly real life - e.g. pageantry and social display, military activity, individual ethics and behavior?
• What were the impacts of politics, society, religion, and culture on chivalry and warfare?

These questions are merely for guidance; applicants are invited to submit brief proposals for papers or panels addressing the conference’s themes. We encourage submissions for 20 minute papers from a range of disciplines including: history, religious studies, literary studies, anthropology, archaeology, manuscript studies, and art history. The hope is that this conference will provide a forum for discussion and collaboration between scholars and across disciplines. Graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and early-career faculty are particularly encouraged to apply. Please submit a brief CV along with an abstract of roughly 300 words to Craig M. Nakashian (craig.nakashian@tamut.edu) by December 15. Direct any questions or concerns to Craig Nakashian, Anne Romine (aromine@slu.edu) or Sam Claussen (samclaussen@gmail.com).