Call for papers for the Kalamazoo 2012 session “Uncanny Animations: Performing Objects, Automata, and Beyond.”

This session will interrogate a variety of animated objects — puppets, theatrical props, automata — that, in the Middle Ages, existed either in reality or in literary and visual imagination. Recent interest in automata and performing objects has yielded fascinating interdisciplinary research that engages with questions of viewership, theatricality, and uncanniness — all issues to be investigated in this session that will focus on various animations of inert matter. Possible topics include inventions of self-moving objects, such as those proposed by Villard de Honnecourt and found at the courts of Strasbourg and Burgundy; performance props that include Crucified Christ with movable arms, Madonnas with movable wombs, or the mechanized Magi employed at the cathedral of Strasbourg; statues, discussed in visionary accounts, miracle stories, exempla, and convent chronicles, that come to life and move, speak, and pour out various liquids; literary narratives that feature descriptions of complex automata; and manuscripts from the East that contain verbal and visual descriptions of various animated objects.

Please send your abstract, along with the paper proposal form to Elina Gertsman by September 15, 2011.
The congress will take place on May 10-13, 2012.