Emily Steiner (Penn) and I are organizing a paper session titled “Langland’s Words” at Kalamazoo 2015. The session is sponsored by the International Piers Plowman Society. Details and a full list of sponsored sessions are posted on the society’s website.
Langland’s Words (Ian Cornelius, Yale; Emily Steiner, Penn). “Mercy Madame, what is this to mene?” The library of resources for study of Langland’s words has grown prodigiously in recent years: Joseph Wittig’s Concordance (2001), George Kane’s Glossary (2005), and A.V.C. Schmidt’s “Indexical Glossary” (2008) have joined the MED and the seminal studies by John Alford. Meanwhile, critical attention to such words as loller, conscience, mede and truth demonstrates the persistent value of word-study as an approach to reading Piers Plowman. This session invites papers that build on and extend such investigations. Possible topics include words with unusual distributions within or between versions; instances of conventional literary language, colloquialism, or professional argots; the vexed relations between word and concept in the poem’s allegory; sources of the poem’s vocabulary; non-English lexis; the transmission and reception of vocabulary items in manuscript and print; and critical reflection on the tools we use to study these matters today.