Announcements and Statements

CFP ‘Networks of Solitude’ for the New Chaucer Society conference in Reykjavik in 2014

The International Anchoritic Society is currently organising a sponsored session on ‘Networks of Solitude’ for the New Chaucer Society conference in Reykjavik in 2014. We are therefore calling for 20-minute papers that address this topic (full details pasted below). Please send abstracts of up to 500 words to Liz Herbert McAvoy ( and Susannah Chewning ( by JUNE 1, 2013.

Networks of Solitude
Organizers: Susannah Chewning ( and Liz Herbert McAvoy (

Paper panel

Medieval solitude, as manifested within the medieval anchoritic and hermitic traditions in particular, was, by the era of Chaucer, an extremely popular and common form of religious and cultural experience and, as Anne Savage has persuasively argued, the practices it generated were by no means restricted to those women and men entering the anchorhold as religious recluses. Although the original ideologies of anchoritism certainly encouraged isolation and solitude, there were also many networks and communities, both religious and lay, running throughout England and the Continent that shared ‘anchoritic’ texts, ideas, and spiritual practices.

In this session we seek to include presentations on the networks constructed around and by medieval solitary experience and the types of communication – textual or otherwise – that manifested itself during the time of Chaucer, whether among and between anchorites and other solitaries, their patrons, their spiritual advisors or the community at large. Papers addressing specific authors who participated in these ‘networks of solitude’ (Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, Julian of Norwich, William Flete, Margery Kempe, and the adapters of the Katherine and Wooing Group texts, for example) are welcome. Also invited are those dealing with the transmission of manuscripts, the spread of solitary practice and devotion, the reception of anchoritic traditions, relationships between Continental and English solitary traditions and their texts, and the spatial networks that built up around solitary practice in individual locations (for example, East Anglian churches and communities, or the Low Countries).