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    The next conference is being planned for Saturday 4 November 2023 at Corpus Christi College. Details will appear on this page

Autumn conference 2022
Members and non-members welcome

Call for Papers

Lendings, signifying, identities

Day conference
Saturday 5 November 2022
Corpus Christi College, Oxford

‘Vestimentary aspects of the metanarrative’
Roger Kojeckż, Secretary, CLSG

‘Revelation and performance: early medieval (un)clothing
Paul Cavill, University of Nottingham

'Reality and seeming, light and darkness: the cloaking of identity in Measure for Measure'
Mike Nolan, La Trobe University, Melbourne

‘Spiritual Symbolism of Esther’s Clothing in Mary Barton’
Mary-Lynn Chambers, Elizabeth City State University

The discovery of an identity can be important in narratives. When he gets home, Odysseus after so long away is not easily recognised. King Lear, storm-wracked and ousted from the world he knew, is reduced to his newly discovered bare humanity. When he cries, ‘Off, off you lendings’, his exclamation is also a stage direction. Later, railing against injustice, he observes that ‘robes and furred gowns hide all’. He by now having nothing, or everything, to hide.
     Identity, role, gender and the like need to be recognised, even if not immediately. Rosalind in As You Like It wants to be seen, and loved, as Ganymede, or perhaps as herself.
     In his bombastic ‘philosophy of clothes’ in Sartor Resartus Thomas Carlyle suggests that in the evolutionary beginnings decoration was for primitive human beings prior to warmth. Perhaps he was thinking of face painting and tattoos. He points out that ‘Language, if you except some few primitive elements (of natural sound) ... is all but Metaphors’, and clothes are metaphors, and bodies clothes or metaphors of souls. Yet decency as John Harvey indicates (Clothes, 2008) is fundamental to wearing clothes, while allaying anxiety may also be important when you hover before your wardrobe. Roland Barthes devoted attention to both images and descriptions in his structuralist study The Fashion System, where clothes are figures at play in the twentieth century semiotic system.
     ∆lfric's St Eugenia disguises herself as a man, becomes an abbot, and disproves a charge of adultery by exposing herself to her father.The protagonist in Mateo Aleman’s GuzmŠn de Alfarache (1599), rogue as he was, thought he could acquire social standing in a new suit of clothes. In the Bible clothing signifies a great deal, and Jesus warned against conspicuous displays of dubious piety by religious teachers who liked to wear long tassels. He also made use of common knowledge of the shrinkage rates of old and new cloth to make a point about his mission.

Some topical references

Enquiries to Dr Roger Kojeckż, secretary@clsg.org The conference fee payable in October (includes lunch in College) is £22, concessions £18.

About the Autumn conference papers

CLSG: exploring Christian and Biblical themes in literature

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The Christian Literary Studies Group in association with the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship