TitleTemporal Borders in Middle English Literature
Date/TimeWednesday 6 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairRobert Epstein, Department of English, Fairfield University, Connecticut
Paper 1019-a The Transgressing Temporal Border of the Middle Ages
(Language: English)
Wallace Cleaves, Department of English, University of California, Riverside
Index Terms: Historiography - Modern Scholarship; Language and Literature - Middle English; Teaching the Middle Ages
Paper 1019-b Border Pedagogy in the Middle English Pearl
(Language: English)
Elizabeth Schirmer, Department of English, New Mexico State University
Index Terms: Education; Language and Literature - Middle English
Paper 1019-c 'A life that is not a thing': John McTaggart's Temporal Series, Ontological Differentiations, and the Middle English Poem St Erkenwald
(Language: English)
Eduardo Correia, Department of English, King's College London
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Middle English; Philosophy; Religious Life
Paper 1019-d Medieval English Time Travel
(Language: English)
Christopher Lee Pipkin, English Department, Emmanuel College, Georgia
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Middle English; Language and Literature - Old English; Liturgy; Mentalities
AbstractPaper -a:
Medieval Studies have begun the critical process of challenging and globalising the once localised conception of the period, but the Middle Ages also press beyond the imagined temporal border with the modern. In popular and academic discourse, the medieval is constantly recalled as a means of understanding the contemporary experience, acting as both a positive and negative comparative model. This essay explores the metaphor of the medieval with a focus on how literature of the Middle English period particularly focuses on trans local and even trans temporal conceptions, thus establishing a conceptual framework for such expression.

Paper -b:
This talk reads the Middle English Pearl as border pedagogy, focusing on the embodiment of the Pearl-Maiden as teacher. I trace imperfect analogies between 21st-century border pedagogies and the strategies of the Pearl poet. The visionary garden where the Maiden teaches the Dreamer is a borderland space between saeculum and eschaton. The Maiden's body exists to teach: it is a somatechnic embodiment of her beatified existence pending the resurrection of the body. The Maiden must both police the boundary between their worlds and teach the Dreamer the proper way to cross. How do bodies teach in borderlands, and how to borderlands shape (teaching) bodies?

Paper -c:
The Middle English poem St Erkenwald negotiates several types of borders: between life and death, present and past, Christian and pagan. In this paper I propose that John McTaggart's (1866-1925) distinction between the temporal order relations of A-series and B-series (1908) offers a platform that illuminates and clarifies some of the ontological differences implicit in the poem's categorisations. This legend itself is distinct from most hagiographies in that it presents a double ripple in temporality, connected to both death and the pagan past. Furthermore, the poem seems to anticipate some of the differentiations put forward by McTaggart through the ways in which, again distinctively from other hagiographies, the body and the soul of the (pagan) body are consigned to A-series and B-series respectively.

Paper -d:
Medieval English travelers go back in time as they travel East, blurring (or transcending?) temporal borders. Old English poems show 'Widsith' meeting Germanic and Biblical legendary figures and 'Elene' (Constantine's 4th-century mother) interrogating St Stephen's 1st-century brother. Later pilgrimage narratives (Mandeville, Margery Kempe) likewise suggest we may travel to Old Testament sites, as though Scripture has frozen them in time. While I argue that this results from rhetoric encouraging pilgrimage and crusade, such rhetoric draws on a sense that time moves more slowly nearer the world's centre - a sense connected to liturgical movement, which likewise transcends time. England, away from the centre, is old, and transtemporal journeys to an eternal past rejuvenate its people.