Walker Horsfall (he/him)

Nominated by member scholarly associations of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the 2022 Congress Graduate Merit Awards recognize exceptional graduate students who will be presenting their work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Photo of Walker Horsfall, CGMA recipient


Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Walker Horsfall. I am a PhD candidate at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. My primary research is on the intersection of Middle High German literature and contemporary science and natural philosophy, with an emphasis on astronomy. 

Which scholarly association(s) are you currently a member of?

  • German Studies Canada / Études Allemandes Canada 
  • Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des médiévistes 
  • International Arthurian Society, North American Branch 

At which conference(s) will you be presenting and/or attending? 

German Studies Canada / Études Allemandes Canada Annual Conference 2022 

What is the title of your Congress 2022 presentation?  

waz wirret daz?: Frauenlob’s Sexualized Mary and Medieval Grammars of Transgression 

How would you describe the research you will be presenting at Congress 2022?

In his poem known as the Marienleich (“The Lay of Mary”), the medieval German poet Frauenlob (d. 1318) has the Blessed Virgin Mary announce, in her own voice, several statements which bonder on the transgressive and even the blasphemous: she alludes to the sexual pleasure she gained from the Annunciation, boasts that she slept with all three members of the Trinity, and declares that she herself is God. In my presentation, I explore how these seemingly scandalous statements may in fact have normative explanations, when considered in the context of contemporary medieval physiological, allegorical, and grammatical texts.  

How does the research you will be presenting connect with the Congress 2022 theme, Transitions

My research highlights a key moment in the historical transition of detailed theological explorations from Latin into the vernacular in medieval Europe. The text I explore in my presentation also anticipates an interest in the humanity and motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as well as an attentiveness to the natural world, that would inform late medieval and Renaissance art, literature, and thought.  

Share your hopes for Congress 2022. 

I am elated that I will get the opportunity to engage with the incredible breadth of knowledge and perspectives of the Congress participants, and excited to see how this diversity of experience and expertise lays the foundation for new and exciting interdisciplinary projects.