CFP: MLA Celtic Forum, New York, 4-7 January 2018 (Proposals Due 15 March 2017)

1. “A Better Brit Lit Survey: Celtic, Norse and Teaching a Multicultural North Atlantic” (Roundtable)

We warmly invite proposals for brief 6-8 minute presentations from teacher-scholars working in any time-period for a dynamic roundtable discussion on incorporating Celtic and Norse voices in the British Literature survey, and the practical, political and disciplinary issues involved in teaching a Multicultural North Atlantic. How can a multicultural Brit Lit Survey be used to address current issues regarding racism, xenophobia and right-wing nationalism? What has the role of the anthology industry been in shaping the voices that are canonized (or not) as “British Literature”? What can consideration of the Viking Diaspora and the Celtic presence in the British Isles bring to an understanding of what British literature is, and how it has always been multilingual, multicultural and multiethnic? What are some of the obstacles to be negotiated? What might “best practices” look like? Participants might address: how “Brit Lit” has been defined, and how we might intervene to re-conceptualize it to include Celtic and Norse contributions and highlight an early, foundational multiculturalism; strategies for incorporating Celtic or Norse sources, perhaps in terms of specific textual or thematic pairings of laments, runic inscriptions, heroic narratives or material cultural elements; the employment of popular films, graphic novels, television series, etc.; logistics including how to approach language and translation; how to advertise courses (to students and colleagues) to best capitalize on the fact that Vikings and Celts sell extremely well; how to use a “Better Brit Lit Survey” as a gateway to further study of Celtic and Norse literature and culture, past and present; and how a more fully inclusive Brit Lit Survey can advance an appreciation of and further work on a multicultural North Atlantic world.

It is our hope that speakers and audience participants will include those with some background in Celtic and Norse literatures, languages, and/or culture, as well as teacher-scholars who have little or no formal training in Celtic or Norse Studies but who are invested in a multicultural North Atlantic and have (or want to) include Celtic and Norse materials in a Brit Lit course.

Please submit a proposal of ca. 150 words for a presentation of 6-8 minutes to Amy Mulligan ( and Lindy Brady ( by 15 March.

2. Celtic Feasting and Feuding

This panel will explore the concepts of food and violence, and the interconnectivity of these concepts, in Celtic literatures and lore.

Feasts in our narrative traditions tend to be extravagant and symbolically rich cultural, political, and social affairs–and they are often intricately linked with violence. Beyond the inherent violence of slaughtering, dismembering, and cooking the animals to be eaten, feasting halls also provide both explicit and implicit opportunities for violence by collecting many people together, each for individual reasons and bringing his or her emotions into the space to interact with those of others. A banquet that takes place in a royal, chiefly, or fairy hall is thus likely to be as fraught with tension as it is lavish. It may mark the resolution of a feud, or be the vehicle for commencing one. The ever-present danger of violence at the feast may also be Otherworldly, requiring the guarding of the senses as carefully as the body.

We warmly invite proposals for 20-minute presentations that explore the subjects of violence and feasting in texts ranging from the medieval period to modern folklore. Proposals of c.150 words should be submitted to MLA Celtic at and Amy Mulligan ( by March 15.

3. Mewn Dau Gae / Between Two Fields: No State of Security in Medieval North Atlantic Studies

Co-sponsored by the MLA Old English and Celtic Forums

In early medieval elegiac poetry, exile and pilgrimage were very close. The exile, excluded from safety and society, was driven to the margins and borders, isolated and fugitive. The pilgrim was unmoored from worldly life, alone and seeking knowledge, training, or divine truth. These states of unbelonging were precarious and perilous, as well as productive. The ethnic, linguistic, scholarly, and social insecurity of the exsul or peregrinus opened opportunities and new ways of thinking. As Waldo Williams makes clear in his great poem, “Mewn Dau Gae.”, from these interstitial spaces the new, even the poetic, arises:

And on the silent sea-floor of these fields,

his people stroll. Somewhere between them,

through them, around them, there is a new voice

rising …

The statelessness, insecurity, and instability of the shifting zones of contact and crisis in the medieval North Atlantic produced provocative new generic forms, scholarly work, and poetic modes, which in turn can illuminate how and what the field means and might mean in the twenty-first century. We welcome proposals for presentations of scholarly research and critical analysis on pre-modern Celtic and Anglo Saxon literatures; these analyses should be rooted in the primary medieval texts and contexts and come to bear on current preconceived ideas and institutional formations of the field, specifically, and the place and role of the humanities in our current states of insecurity, more broadly.

Please submit a 250-word proposal for a presentation of no more than 15-20 minutes to Matt Hussey ( and Amy Mulligan ( by 15 March 2017.