D. Vance Smith, Princeton University, moderator
Jennifer Jahner, Cal Tech | law and literature
Catherine Sanok, University of Michigan | sacred and secular
Karma Lochrie, Indiana University | hospitality and romance
Matthew Vernon, UC Davis | medievalisms
In "Uncertain Refuge" Elizabeth Allen explores the symbolic significance of sanctuary in medieval English literary works—miracle collections and chronicles, romances and drama. Her topics range from a stag seeking sanctuary from the hunt, to Sir Gawain and Robin Hood, to the Civil Rights Movement in America. Though sanctuary was a legal practice, it was often represented as temporary and precarious, a desperate flight that could lead to exile or draw violence and even breach. Uncertain Refuge illuminates a fantasy of protection and its impermanence that animated late-medieval literary culture, one that remains poignantly alive, if no longer written into law, in today’s troubled political world.