CFP: Morality, Exemplarity and Emotion in Medieval Insular Texts

We invite papers which explore the relationship between morality, exemplarity, and the expression of emotion in medieval Insular texts, c. 700-1500.


The behaviours, ideas, and emotions that medieval writers, translators, and authors present as (im)moral and exemplary naturally fluctuate depending on time, place, genre, and language. Similarly, the textual representation and expression of emotion is culturally, temporally, and socially determined. This conference seeks to explore the nexus of morality, exemplarity, and emotion as presented throughout the medieval Insular world (Ireland and the British Isles), c. 700-c. 1500. In an effort to bring different types of texts into conversation with each other, and to probe generic boundaries, we encourage papers on a range of genres, including religious, heroic, romantic, and historic, written in Latin or the vernacular(s). In particular, we welcome papers which explore how the expression of emotion within texts was used to signal exemplary and/or (im)moral behaviour.


Topics include, but are not limited to, the following suggestions:

  • Methodological approaches to identifying emotion(s) and/or exemplary/moral behaviour.
  • The effectiveness of genre as an interpretive frame when examining morality, exemplarity, and/or emotion.
  • The implications of time, place, language, gender, and/or race on morality, exemplarity and/or emotion(s).
  • The expression of emotion(s) to provoke an affective response to different types of behaviour within texts.
  • Explicit or implicit tensions between morality, exemplarity, and the expression of emotion(s).
  • Moral and/or emotional ambiguity.
  • Emotional and/or moral standards (or transgressions) of behaviour (for religious/lay person, saint, lover, hero, knight, etc).
  • The moral implications for the restraint of emotion.


In addition, we seek participants for a roundtable discussion on:

  • The reception of medieval morality and/or emotions in the classroom, especially issues that arise when teaching texts that include emotionally and/or morally one-dimensional figures.


Please send abstracts of approximately 200 words for a twenty-minute paper and a short bio to Dr Niamh Kehoe (Heinrich Heine Universität) (niamh.kehoe@hhu.de) by the 10th December 2021. If you have any queries, please email Niamh. While we currently anticipate that this will be an in-person event at Heinrich Heine University, we may decide to switch to an online event

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