Medieval Conference Update – SASMARS 2016

I can’t believe it, but in less than a month’s time SASMARS 2016 starts! If you’ve missed the previous blogposts, SASMARS is the Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and I’m giving a paper at this year’s conference!


Finishing the article was my project for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and I am glad to say that it worked out very well. I can also say that renting books on Kindle works well when you can’t get them at a library and can’t afford to actually buy the book…

But that aside, the keynote speaker for the conference has been announced – it’s Professor Carolyn Dinshaw from New York University and she will deliver the keynote “Black Skin, Green Masks: Medieval Foliate Heads, Racial Trauma, and Queer Worldmaking” which definitely sounds intriguing.

One of her current research projects is described as follows:

Dinshaw’s current research projects extend her interests into the visual field. It’s Not Easy Being Green focuses on the eerie figure of the foliate head – a decorative motif well nigh ubiquitous in medieval church sculpture in Western Europe that became known in the 20th century as the Green Man. This imagined mixture of human and vegetable (a head sprouting leaves or made up of vegetation) is the point of departure for her research on human/non-human relations, queerness and queer sexual subcultures now, “the ecological thought” (as Timothy Morton puts it), and what medieval literature can tell us about it all.

Side Notes:

For more information on the Green Man folklore, you can check out this Wikipedia page for a stepping stone, or check out The Land of the Green Man: A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles  by Carolyne Larrington (I can also highly recommend her translation of the Elder Edda, by the way).

The paper I’m to give is titled “Cloaked Love: The Cloak as Representation of Unrequited love, the Male Body, and the Limits of the Female Role in Three Medieval Scandinavian Texts”. The texts I’ll be looking at, for those of you who are interested, is Möttuls Saga, Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu, and the story of Hagbard and Signy in the Gesta Danorum. It actually all started when I remembered the last scene in Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu and the beautiful poetry that ends the saga (because it seems I’m just such a happy person):

‘Cold in my arms I hold her,

Enfold my goldtorqued lady,

That slender wand so wondrous

Enwound with snaketwist bracelet.

God took my goldhaired goddess,

Bright linden under linen,

Leaves me to life so loveless

And bitter, death were better.’


This quote was taken from the translation by Gwyn Jones and can be found in Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas. You can read a short review of the book over here.


By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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