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Idaho State University to host Medieval and Renaissance Conference April 12-14; keynoter is editor of Dictionary of Old English

Posted March 30, 2012

Idaho State University will host the annual Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association Conference (RMMRA) April 12-14, which will include the keynote address "Contested Categories, Anxiety, and Resistance in Early English and Beyond" by Anonette diPaolo Healey, editor of the Dictionary of Old English.

The conference is held annually at universities across the West, and is a venue for scholars and researchers to discuss this fascinating period.

The RMMRA is an interdisciplinary association of faculty, students and research centers in the West. In recent years the conference has been held in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Tempe, Ariz. and Flagstaff, Ariz.

The conference theme, "Categorizing the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds," was designed to help scholars think through the definitions they use in their research, while offering a means to explore how period thinkers organized the natural and geographic world around them.

Healey will deliver her address at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the Rendezvous Complex Planetarium, Room 203. Her talk will be followed by a reception at 6:30 p.m. the Rendezvous Complex Suites. Her talk and reception are sponsored by the Idaho Humanities Council.

Healey will speak about how an adjective such as ‘hard’ has a long and distinguished history, an intoxicating richness that helps us to imagine its Anglo-Saxon past. But, she asks, can we detect the concerns of the culture through the use of this adjective?  How can it act as a lens for the social, political, and religious issues within medieval society? This presentation will search the hidden history of "hard" to discern what our English-speaking ancestors found "hard to bear."

Healey is the editor of the innovative and fantastically detailed Dictionary of Old English, an ongoing project at the University of Toronto.  The Dictionary of Old English defines the vocabulary of the first six centuries (600-1150 AD) of the English language, using 21st-century technology.

The conference typically attracts 50-75 participants and is open to the general public. The College of Arts and Letters hopes to extend the audience to local teachers, students and interested community members.

The conference, organized by Professors Thomas Klein and Curtis Whitaker of the ISU Department of English and Philosophy, is supported by grants from the Idaho Humanities Council and the College of Arts and Letters.

For more information on other conference events, contact Thomas Klein,, or visit the website of the Department of English and Philosophy