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Location: Room 3201 of Student Union; please see campus map to help with directions

Consequences of “the Fall”: Growth and Decline in Medieval and Early Modern Literary Culture

Very few aspects of late medieval and early modern literature and culture remain untouched by the Fall, concepts of original sin, and considerations of man’s place in a postlapsarian world. Concerns over the state of the


soul, right governance and maintenance of the commonweal, and engagement with the natural world were shaded by a need to recoup the loss incurred by the expulsion from Eden.

From drama to religious tracts to treatises on government and society, concern over the Fall led to an overwhelming production of texts attempting to cope and contend with its perceived consequences. This conference hopes to investigate these various representations and responses to The Fall.

We hope to take a broad approach to exploring late medieval and early modern experiences of the Fall, and invite papers on a number of topics including:

  • What is the nature of sin in a postlapsarian world?
  • Neoplatonist v. Stoic v. Epicurean responses to the Fall
  • Diseased minds, bodies, and souls: issues of contagion as a result of the Fall
  • Gendered responses to and/or representations of the Fall
  • The role of witchcraft, the occult, and the supernatural in attending to and understanding the Fall and original sin
  • Who’s out to get you? Devils, demons, and monsters given free reign after the Fall
  • Didactic exercises expressed in courtesy books, treatises on education, guides to good government and training political leaders, etc.
  • Reading the Book of Nature as an antidote to the Fall/sin
  • The intersection of art, music, and/or technology with literature in representing the Fall
  • How does the natural world contend with the Fall?
  • Getting Around: crusades, pilgrimages, and exploration as a means of understanding and contending with the Fall
  • Considerations of genre as part of these representations

We invite 20 minute papers on these and related topics. Abstracts of 300-400 words are due January 31, 2015 to uncenglishgradconference@gmail.com. Participants will be notified on February 15, 2015.

Dr. Michelle Dowd will deliver the keynote Saturday, April 11 at 3:30pm. Professor Dowd teaches at UNC-Greensboro and her most recent books include, The Dynamics of Inheritance on the Shakespearean Stage, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, 2015; Historical Affects and the Early Modern Theater, ed. with Ronda Arab and Adam Zucker, forthcoming from Routledge, 2015; and Early Modern Women on the Fall: An Anthology, ed. with Thomas Festa.  Tempe, AZ: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2012.

“Consequences of ‘the Fall’: Growth and Decline in Medieval and Early Modern Literary Culture” will be held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from April 10-11, 2015.