Category: Calls for Papers

On the Road: Travels, Pilgrimages and Social Interaction

On the Road: Travels, Pilgrimages and Social Interaction, Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Age VI, University of Tampere, Finland, August 6–8, 2015

The sixth international Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages conference will focus on social approaches to travelling, mobility, pilgrimages, and cultural exchange. Interaction between society and space has been a key interest of scholars after the 'Spatial Turn'. Nevertheless, larger comparisons between eras and cultures are mainly missing.

The archetypal journey of Odysseys served as a metaphor and model for later narrations of travelling. In both Ancient and medieval worlds, religious reasons were significant motivations for travelling; these travels confront the traditional idea of these periods as eras of immobility. However, the challenges of setting out for a journey, as well as the dangers of the road, were not dependent on the incentive but rather on distance and other geographical settings, social status of the traveller, and political climate.

The conference aims at concentrating on social and cultural interaction before, during and after travelling. What kinds of motivations were there for ancient and medieval people to get on the road and what kind of negotiations and networks were inherent in travelling? We welcome papers, which have a sensitive approach to social differences: gender, age, health, and status. Actors, experiences and various levels of negotiations are of main interest, and our focus lies on society and the history of everyday life, on the differences and similarities between elite and popular culture, and on the expectations linked to gender and life cycle stage, visible in the practices and policies of travelling. We encourage proposals that integrate the theme of travelling into wider larger social and cultural contexts.

We aim at a broad coverage not only chronologically but also geographically and disciplinarily (all branches of Classical, Byzantine and Medieval Studies). Most preferable are contributions that have themselves a comparative and/or interdisciplinary viewpoint or focusing on a longue durée perspective.

Byzantium and the Middle Ages — Bosom Buddies or Uneasy Allies?

Byzantium and the Middle Ages — Bosom Buddies or Uneasy Allies?, BSANA sponsored session, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

Organizer: Richard Barrett, Indiana University

What is the right relationship of Byzantine studies as a discipline to the study of the Middle Ages? Is it a related, but parallel, field? A sub-discipline? Something else entirely? What is the best way for the relationship of Byzantine studies to medieval studies to be understood so that productive collaboration is maximized? What is the right scale for interaction – on an individual basis? Is a large conference like Kalamazoo big enough for Byzantium? This roundtable will involve a selection of scholars, including Byzantinists and non-Byzantinist medievalists, who will discuss the challenges and opportunities presented when the disciplines interact.

Byzantine studies makes for a somewhat awkward fit in settings generically intended for "medievalists". There are a number of factors that feed into this; first and foremost, perhaps, is a conception of the "Middle Ages" that privileges Latin and French subjects, particularly those that fall into the rather narrow window of time generally referred to as "high medieval". This means also that Byzantinists tend to face something of a language gap; while Byzantine studies requires a knowledge of Latin, Greek can be somewhat obscure for Western medievalists, and other languages that can factor into a discussion of Byzantine subjects - such as Syriac or Arabic - are even more so. This barrier of languages and sources can tend to isolate Byzantine subjects from Western medievalists. The result can be a ghettoization of Byzantine issues, placing them off to the side in medieval survey courses and textbooks. To the extent that the Byzantine world is talked about in those contexts, they are informed by biased Western sources such as Liutprand of Cremona, resulting in an Orientalizing overemphasis on the perceived differences between the "Byzantine east" and the "Latin west". The discourse emphasizes supposed cultural discontinuities - aesthetics, politics, art, religion, and so on - and discusses them as misunderstood, abstract distortions rather than as concrete realities. Byzantium, then, becomes something “byzantine” in the worst sense – an overly-complicated construct that is described variously as “mysterious”, “spiritual”, “mystical”, a gaudy red-headed stepchild of Western history cloaked in a cloud of incense rather than a fully-qualified subject of interest in its own right. This proposed roundtable, then, seeks to engage Byzantinists and Western medieval specialists together in a forward-looking discussion of how these fields may properly interact and collaborate.

We are looking for panel participants from a variety of disciplines and perspectives; please contact session organizer Richard Barrett to express your interest.

Urban and Sacred Topography of Prilep ­a Byzantine Town in the Balkans

Urban and Sacred Topography of Prilep ­a Byzantine Town in the Balkans, BSANA sponsored session, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

Organizer: Richard Barrett, Indiana University

Medieval Prilep, which in the Constantinopolitan literary circles had its apogee in George Akropolites' famous History as a background to his disastrous attempt to hold onto the Nicean stronghold in Central Balkans in the thirteenth century, deserves a serious study that will explore various aspects of its historical, social, economic, cultural and artistic achievements. Given the remarkable degree of preservation of the medieval fortress and more than a dozen churches and monasteries, the idea is to initiate a novel understanding of the urban fabric and sacred topography of this important Macedonian town during Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period.

The papers will provide a reassessment and contextualization of the Byzantine written sources on Prilep and a study of the remains of its material and visual culture, following the history of the town during the early Slavic expansion, the Latin incursions, the Despotate of Epirus, the Bulgarian and the Nicean conquests and the Serbian rule until the end of the 14th century, including the early Ottoman period. Topics will explore archaeology, history, art history, trade, warfare, topography and toponymy, all of which testify to the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional affiliation of Prilep’s medieval citizens.

The panel would ultimately contribute to the multidisciplinary research in the broader field of Byzantine studies and hopefully result in a publication to include comprehensive topics that would reveal Prilep as a testament to an amalgamation of different cultural and social identities.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participant Information Form to session organizer Richard Barrett by September 15. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, as per Congress regulations.

Renovatio in the East Roman & Byzantine World, 395–1453

Renovatio in the East Roman & Byzantine World, 395–1453, Oxford University Byzantine Society proposed sponsored session, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 6–9, 2015

A blurred program of reform presented as renewal, renovatio was an extremely important concept for the Classical Roman Empire, and remained so for the entire history of its eastern continuation. As emperors sought to establish their legitimacy through issuing law codes, building programs, and reconquering lost lands, both the reality and the rhetoric of renovatio had a fundamental impact on the Byzantine view of themselves and their state. Evidence of these programs for restoration resonates today through out surviving texts, coins, and art and architecture, strongly influencing our historiographical reconstructions. We warmly invite papers dealing with these issues across the full lifespan of the Eastern Roman Empire and its successor states, from all areas of Late Antique & Byzantine studies. Suggested topics include:

  • Justinian and his World – Reconquest, Reform, and Renewal
  • Law and renovatio from the Theodosian Code to the Hexabiblos
  • Iconoclasm, the Isaurians, and the Resurgence of Byzantium
  • Rhetoric in Stone – Byzantine Architectural renovatio
  • A Macedonian Renaissance?
  • Literary renovatio – Historiography and the Greco-Roman Novel
  • The ‘Komnenian Restoration’
  • Art, Politics and renovatio in the post-1204 World

Migration and Displacement in the Medieval Mediterranean

Migration and Displacement in the Medieval Mediterranean, session at the International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 6–9, 2015

Jochen Schenk (University of Glasgow) is seeking proposals for a session on “Human Migration and Displacement in the Medieval Mediterranean at the Time of the Holy Land Crusades (c.1050–c.1300),” to be held at “Reform and Renewal” — the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, 6–9 July 2015.

This session aims to look at the challenges posed to societies, governments and secular and religious institutions by the forced or voluntary migration of individuals, groups and populations within and across political and cultural boundaries in areas directly affected by the holy land crusades. Of particular interest in this context are the social and political mechanisms available or invented for dealing with refugees and otherwise displaced persons; the social and cultural costs (and benefits) of human displacement; challenged or shifting concepts of identity; human trafficking: its actors, victims and markets; the challenges posed to government by nomadic societies; migration and the labour market; the legal treatment of migrants and refugees; memories of migration and displacement.

The session is interdisciplinary and international in concept. Publication of a volume of essays is anticipated.

Marco Institute Sponsored Sessions at Kalamazoo 2015

The Marco Institute of the University of Tennessee will be sponsoring two sessions at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015.

Session #1: Mother and Other Tongues: Choices, Conflicts, Resistances

This session is concerned with linguistic options medieval authors or scribes may have had with respect to choosing their language of expression, vis-à-vis in particular, but not limited to, the usage of the mother tongue. The growing use of vernacular languages towards the end of the Middle Ages became a source of reflection, sometimes explicitly, regarding their status, forms, spheres of usage or one’s sense of belonging and identity. The choices that were made could have political, cultural, intellectual, territorial, gendered, or religious implications. We welcome papers that address any of these issues including aspects of language shifting or language contact phenomena, territorialization, diglossy, as well as discussions of linguistic minorities, or surprising/questionable linguistic choices made by authors in particular contexts. Approaches could include subjects of conflicts, structures of domination, or resistance to any form of cultural linguistic imposition.

Session #2: Celebrating Ten Years of the Marco Manuscript Workshop: Mind the Gaps

For the last ten years, the Marco Institute has sponsored its Manuscript Workshop, an annual gathering of scholars sharing their work on manuscripts and codicology in an informal collaborative setting. The guiding principle behind this program has been that scholars of all levels can better work through the thorny issues of textual scholarship with an engaged scholarly community, which can also open up new avenues of research for projects in development. The Marco-sponsored session “Mind the Gaps” will focus on understanding how readers interact with the physical layout of the page, script choice, or text-image interaction. “Mind the gaps” is open to papers covering topics like erasures, marginalia, missing portions, possible cases of censorship, or the disassembly and rebinding of manuscripts in the early modern period.

Lost Museums Colloquium

Lost Museums Colloquium, Brown University, Providence, RI,  May 7–8, 2015

In conjunction with the year-long exhibition project examining Brown University’s lost Jenks Museum, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and the John Carter Brown Library invite paper proposals for a colloquium on lost artifacts, collections and museums. (Other formats—conceptual, poetic, and artistic—are also invited.) The colloquium will be held at Brown University, Providence, RI,  May 7 and 8, 2015.

Museums, perhaps more than any other institutions, think in the very long term: collections are forever. But the history of museums is more complicated than that. Museums disappear for many reasons, from changing ideas about what’s worth saving to the devastation of war. Museum collections disappear: deaccessioned, traded away, repatriated, lost to changing interests and the ravages of time.

We are interested in this process of decline and decay, the taphonomy of institutions and collections, as a way of shedding light not only on the history of museums and libraries, but also on the ways in which material things reflect and shape the practices of science and the humanities, and also to help museums think about current and future practices of collections and collections use.

We invite presentations from historians, curators, registrars, and collections managers, as well as from artists and activists, on topics including:

  • Histories of museums and types of museums: We welcome case studies of museums and categories of museums that are no more. What can we learn from museums that are no more? Cast museums, commercial museums, and dime museums have mostly disappeared. Cabinets of curiosity went out of and back into fashion. Why? What is their legacy?
  • Artifacts: How do specimens degrade? How have museums come to think of permanence and ephemerality? How do museums use, and “use up” collections, either for research (e.g., destructive sampling), or for education and display; how have they thought about the balance of preservation and use? How can they collect the ephemeral?
  • Museum collection history: How long does art and artifact really remain in the museum? Might the analysis of museum databases cast new light on the long-term history and use of collections?
  • “Lost and found” in the museum: How are art and artifacts “rediscovered” in museums? How do old collections regain their importance, both in artistic revivals and in new practices of “mining” the museum as artists finding new uses for old objects?
  • Museum collections policy: How have ideas about deaccessioning changed? How should they change? How do new laws, policies, and ethics about the repatriation of collections shape ideas about collections?
  • Museums going out of business: When a museum needs to close for financial or other reasons, what’s the best way to do that? Are there good case studies and legal and financial models?
  • The future of museum collections: How might museums think about collecting the ephemeral, or collecting for “impermanent” collections. What new strategies should museums consider for short-term collecting? How might digitization and scanning shape ideas about the permanence of collections?

Papers from the Colloquium may be published as a special issue of the Museum History Journal.

Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel

Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel, Hortulus sponsored session, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

Hortulus will sponsor a session on “Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel,” a theme selected by our readers, at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14–17, 2015. Papers presented in our session may also be considered for our Fall 2015 issue on the same theme.

Scholarly interest in the topic of pilgrimage spans many geographies and disciplines. Additionally, recent scholarship has revealed the significant impact of pilgrimage and travel upon medieval people of a variety of religious, social, and regional backgrounds, not just the pilgrims themselves. We invite proposals that explore the topics of pilgrimage, exploration, and travel from multidisciplinary and comparative perspectives. Some potential topics for papers might include relics, badges, clothing, and associated material culture; perceptions of space, including landscape, geography, and architecture; the economics and politics of pilgrimage; pilgrimage narratives and other literary evidence; miracles and healing; readings of pilgrimage that consider monastic vs. lay approaches, social class, and gender; local and “national” identity; sacred journey in general (not just Christian) in the pre-modern world; liturgy and ritual of pilgrimage; and failed pilgrimages.

The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal?

The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal?, session at Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 6–9, 2015

The entry of Michael VIII Palaiologos into Constantinople in 1261 seemed to herald a new beginning for the Byzantine empire, consigning the shattering experience of the Fourth Crusade to the past. Initial hopes were soon dashed as the empire faced more enemies while disposing of fewer resources than ever before. Political, military, economic and ideological challenges were presented by the Latin west, the rising powers of the Muslim east and the newly independent nations of the Balkans. How successfully did Byzantines meet these challenges? Although it is easy to point to the empire’s ultimate demise, more recent scholars have shown that old narratives of decadence and decline are misguided. Astonishing feats of diplomacy and adaptation can be seen, as well as periods of intense intellectual, literary, theological and artistic energy. It was a period of new ideas, self-examination and unprecedented cultural engagement. But was the restoration doomed by unfavourable circumstances in a rapidly changing world, or were poor decisions by Byzantine elites to blame? How far were the Palaiologoi themselves, the most tenacious of all Byzantine dynasties, responsible?

Rethinking Medieval Maps

Rethinking Medieval Maps I and II, sessions at 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

Rethinking Medieval Maps I: The Unmapped, Marginalized and Fictitious

This panel is devoted to the cartography of spaces that are far—either geographically or conceptually—from the umbilicus terrae at Jerusalem and the seemingly well-known confines of Europe. Proposals are invited for papers that explore the less privileged aspects of medieval maps: the mapping of the unknown, negative space, and things omitted from maps; the inhabitants of the margins, monsters, and marginalized peoples; and the cartography of the fictitious or counterfactual. While we seek papers that engage closely with the details of the maps themselves, we welcome proposals that highlight new approaches to maps across time and space.

Rethinking Medieval Maps II: Evidence for the Use and Re-Use of Maps

P.D.A. Harvey has written that “Medieval Europe was a society that functioned largely without maps”—and we take this statement as a call for a closer look at how medieval Europeans engaged with maps when they did resort to them. What evidence do we have, either from maps themselves, their contexts, or from textual sources, about how medieval maps were used? What about cases in which maps were designed for one purpose, but employed for another? What do these uses and re-uses tell us about the place of maps in medieval society, and their connection with broader developments in visual or material culture?

Papers are expected to be amply illustrated with high-quality images of the maps discussed.

Building Hagiographies: Saintly Imagery in Monumental Contexts

Building Hagiographies: Saintly Imagery in Monumental Contexts, session at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

One of the most innovative developments in the monumental arts of the thirteenth century was the incorporation of saints’ lives into the visual programs of buildings, including the stained glass and sculpture of such well-known structures as the cathedrals of Chartres, Reims, Amiens, and Bourges. Yet even at these well-known monuments, the resident imagery of local saints and the local interpretations of universal saints remain understudied topics. This session will consider the ways in which the imagery of saints was incorporated or reinterpreted in the visual programs of buildings, thereby constructing careful histories within regional and local contexts.

We encourage papers that consider regional and local interpretations of hagiographic imagery in a variety of monumental contexts (cathedrals, parish churches, monasteries) and across geographic regions (Europe, the British Isles, and the Mediterranean).  Papers may address but are not limited to such issues as the use of hagiographic narratives to support the power and authority of the local clergy and/or the interaction of local saints’ imagery with liturgical performance, pilgrimage, preaching, and other devotional, didactic, or political concerns.

Jennifer M. Feltman
Kara Morrow

East – West and the Middle Ages

East – West and the Middle Ages, Imbas, National University of Ireland, Galway, November 28–30, 2014

Imbas is an interdisciplinary postgraduate conference hosted annually by NUI Galway postgraduate students. The conference gives postgraduate students the opportunity to present ongoing work and to discuss their research with peers in an informal, interdisciplinary, and international setting. The Imbas committee is delighted to announce the call for papers for the 2014 conference. The theme of the conference is ‘East – West and the Middle Ages’, and it will run from the 28th – 30th November at NUI Galway.

Imbas accepts papers from all disciplines, with a focus on any topic from Late Antiquity to the end of the Medieval period.

13th Annual Graduate Student Colloquium in Armenian Studies

13th Annual Graduate Student Colloquium in Armenian Studies, UCLA, February 8, 2015

We enthusiastically invite graduate students and recent post-docs (Ph.D., within the last two years) in fields associated with Armenian Studies (broadly defined) to present their recent research. Work in progress is encouraged. We invite research papers on all aspects of Armenian studies, including, but not limited to: literature, history, gender studies, sociology, anthropology, economics, art history, and much more. We welcome comparative themes and interdisciplinary approaches. Panel submissions are also welcome.

A reception will be held on the Wednesday evening prior to the event to welcome the colloquium speakers. Students will have an opportunity to meet with faculty and students on campus, tour Armenian Studies resources, and visit Armenian Studies classes. The colloquium will conclude with a reception.

Priority of acceptance will be given to those who have not presented at the colloquium before. Limited travel grants will be available to assist those who would otherwise be unable to attend.

8th Annual International Conference on Mediterranean Studies

8th Annual International Conference on Mediterranean Studies, Athens, March 30–April 2, 2015

The Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) organizes its 8th Annual International Conference on Mediterranean Studies. The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars, researchers and students from all areas of Mediterranean Studies, such as history, arts, archaeology, philosophy, culture, sociology, politics, international relations, economics, business, sports, environment and ecology, etc.

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Medieval Mediterranean Society

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Medieval Mediterranean Society, Malta Study Society sponsored session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2015

The Malta Study Center of the Hill Manuscript Library will be sponsoring a session entitled “Slavery and the Slave Trade in Medieval Mediterranean Society” at the The 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies to take place on May 14–17, 2015. This session will focus on the role slavery as an economic force linking disparate religious and ethnic communities across religions and kingdoms, where the role of unpaid, forced labor provided a common economic and cultural relationship between Muslim and Christian communities controlling the Mediterranean Sea.

Networks of Transmission: Histories and Practices of Collecting Medieval Manuscripts and Documents

Networks of Transmission: Histories and Practices of Collecting Medieval Manuscripts and Documents, Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts Sponsored Session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI, May 14–17 2015

This session will focus on the mapping of those networks of sale and purchase through which medieval manuscripts have been pursued and on the collectors and collecting that have catalyzed this transmission across the centuries. This session – like The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts itself – is rooted in the belief that studying manuscripts’ provenance can have dynamic and profound effects not only on our understanding of these medieval materials as objects to be bought and sold but also on their texts through mapping their circulation and reception. We particularly welcome proposals that explore diverse topics from the role of digital technologies such as the SDBM in conducting provenance research, the relationship between institutional and private ownership of manuscripts, specific case studies of collecting practices, the transatlantic travels of medieval materials, collectors’ roles in the dispersal of libraries and the fragmentation of manuscripts, collectors and manuscript preservation, and how a manuscript’s provenance history can affect its value and collectability on the rare books market, to how collectors and the act of collecting can shape and influence interpretations of manuscript evidence.

Please send proposals with a one-page abstract and Participant Information Form to Lynn Ransom or Alex Devine.

Source: Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University, Facebook

Late Antiquity, Kalamazoo 2015

Society for Late Antiquity Sponsored Sessions, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI, May 14–17 2015

The Society for Late Antiquity will again sponsor two sessions at the International Medieval Studies Congress, May 14-17, 2015 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. As in the past, topics are open. One-page abstracts for 15-minute papers are invited relating to the history, literature, religion, art, archaeology, culture, and society of Late Antiquity (that is, the European, North African, and Western Asian world ca. 250–750). Attention should be given to how the paper relates to Late Antiquity as a discrete period with its own individual characteristics.

Interiority and Topographies of Self from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Interiority and Topographies of Self from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, Session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI, May 14–17 2015

How can we locate and interpret the constituent elements of a premodern self, and what are the processes by which articulations of the self were asserted? Scholars of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages have recently highlighted the importance of studying the interior worlds, emotions, and experiences of individuals and intellectual communities. While we once heard of an “age of anxiety” (E.R. Dodds), increasingly we hear of the “invention of the inner self” (Phillip Cary), “inwardness and selfhood” (Pauliina Remes), “varieties of selves” (Richard Sorabji), “consciousness and introspection” (Suzanne Stern-Gillet), the “corporeal imagination” (Patricia Cox Miller), and “inward turns” (Peter Brown, Kerem Eksen). This panel aims to assemble and place into dialogue interdisciplinary studies on the premodern self by inquiring into the constitution of selfhood, individual experience, identity, emotion, memory, and nostalgia. How are interior worlds represented in our sources? What is the relationship between self-reflection and physical and imaginary spaces? How do strategies of self-representation change over time and space? Most frustratingly, did non-elites have “selves” or did they take their selves for granted?

A focus on interiority invites exploration of the role of memory, mobility, and space on the constitution of self. A topography of self suggests that, like memory, assertions of the self could be embedded in the built environment through procession, pilgrimage, patronage, and inscription. This panel therefore invites studies of literary, documentary, and material culture that elucidate premodern interiors, anthropologies, or maps of the self.

Law, Custom and Ritual in the Medieval Mediterranean

Law, Custom and Ritual in the Medieval Mediterranean, Fourth biennial conference of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean, University of Lincoln, July 13–15, 2015

 We are pleased to announce that the fourth biennial conference of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean will take place at the University of Lincoln from Monday 13th July to Wednesday 15th July 2015.

The theme of the conference is “Law, Custom and Ritual in the Medieval Mediterranean” and the keynotes will be delivered by Professor Maribel Fierro (CSIC, Madrid: "Obedience to the ruler in the Medieval Islamic West: legal and historical perspectives") and Dr Andrew Marsham (University of Edinburgh: “Rituals of accession in early Islam: a comparative perspective”).

We welcome both individual papers and panel proposals.

Those who are interested in presenting at the conference might consider the following sub-themes when putting together their abstracts (but are by no means limited to them):

  • Roman, Canon and municipal law in the medieval Mediterranean
  • Lawyers: their identities, status and practice
  • Disputes, dispute settlement
  • Legal agreements (e.g. charters, treaties)
  • Law codes and codification
  • Manuscripts of law codes, charters, etc.
  • Legal training in the medieval Mediterranean
  • Ritual sites and ritual objects
  • Law, treaties and rituals in visual and material culture
  • Trading and other contractual agreements
  • Oath-making and oath-breaking
  • Outlaws, criminals and rebels
  • Scribal practices and legal record-keeping

We are also interested in papers that propose to take a more openly theoretical look at law, ritual and custom in our period, digital humanities approaches to the topic, and would also consider proposals that discuss the (contemporary) teaching of law, ritual and custom in the medieval Mediterranean.

We will offer up to 10 bursaries for MA and PhD students who are interested in presenting at the Conference. The bursaries, which will cover the Conference fees, will be assigned to those proposals which best fit the theme of the Conference.

Presenters will be invited to submit their papers for publication in the Society’s journal, Al Masaq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean, published by Taylor and Francis. Previous conferences have resulted in the publication of special issues of the journal as well as individual articles.

Approaching Portraiture Across Medieval Art

Approaching Portraiture Across Medieval Art, Special Session,50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, May 14–17, 2015

Organizer: Maeve Doyle, Bryn Mawr College

Figural representations of specific, contemporary people served numerous purposes in medieval societies, from commemorative and memorial functions to assertions of political power or social status, markers of ownership and use, and enactments of piety. Portraits, furthermore, proliferate across media, in stained glass, manuscript, and sculpture both monumental and miniature. This variety of historical, religious, and material contexts inflects the function of medieval portraits and their reception. While portraiture had long been considered an essentially modern genre, recent scholarship has worked to establish terms for considering portrait forms within the social, artistic, and theological contexts of the Middle Ages. In his book on royal representations in late medieval France, Stephen Perkinson situated the rise of veristic portraiture within the social and artistic concerns of the Valois court. Scholars such as Brigitte Bedos-Rezak and Alexa Sand, on the other hand, have approached the question of portraiture through medium-specific studies of personal seals and illuminated manuscripts, respectively. These studies emphasize the extent to which the creation and reception of a portrait depends upon its specific historical and material contexts. This panel seeks to explore the degree to which such focused studies can inform one another. In order to further investigation into medieval portraiture (or portraitures), this panel seeks to spotlight studies of portraiture across contexts and across media and to place them into dialog. This panel invites proposals for papers treating portraiture, loosely defined, from across medieval cultures and in any area of representation.

To propose a paper for this panel, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and the completed Participant Information Form to Maeve Doyle by Monday, September 15, 2014.

Source: BSANA listserv

Lines Between: Culture and Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean

Lines Between: Culture and Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean, Nicosia, June 3–6, 2015

Over the centuries, the peoples and nations of the Mediterranean have been divided but also connected by the sea. Its trade routes have facilitated traffic and ideas, artistic creativity, and architecture, as well as commerce. Cultures have evolved and empires have risen and declined through processes that have impacted the histories and cultures of countries washed by the Mediterranean. This sea has helped create what Edward Said refers to as “lines between cultures” that permit us to discern identities in a process of constant evolution while also revealing the “extent to which cultures are humanly made structures of both authority and participation.” Indeed, this interplay of geography and culture, politics and art, climate and society invites multiple modes of inquiry. How have the “humanly made structures” of the Eastern Mediterranean helped both to unite and divide the peoples of the region? As peripheral cultures, have these structures and/or peoples taken on aspects and attributes similar to those found in other peripheral but also metropolitan settings? To what extent has the region’s geopolitical frame affected lifestyle and artistic expression for those living there? How did Empire mediate in the interactions between Mediterranean colonies? How have the structures created by Greeks, Ottomans, Britons, and other imperialists in the Eastern Mediterranean altered the landscape — human, sociological, anthropological, linguistic, and cultural?

We invite proposals for papers, posters, and panels that engage with these questions as well as with any other aspects and politics of culture and empire in the Eastern Mediterranean.

We welcome papers that explore any of the issues that focus on the Eastern Mediterranean. Through these papers, we hope to explore the ways in which the arts in this “extremely small sea,” as Lawrence Durrell puts it, have helped to “make us dream that it is larger than it is.”

The organizers are looking into the possibility of a publication that will feature a selection of papers from the conference.

Moving Women, Moving Objects 300–1500

Moving Women, Moving Objects 300–1500, ICMA-sponsored session, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 14–17, 2014

As we examine medieval works of art like manuscripts, reliquaries, and jewels, today anchored and spotlighted in their museum vitrines, it is easy to imagine these sumptuous objects at rest in the hands of their original owners. But, in truth, they were in constant motion, and women were especially responsible for the movement of these works of art.

This panel seeks to enrich the discussion of women and their relationships with their objects that, in the area of non-book arts, remains relatively unexplored. Luscious objects were gifts that traveled lesser and greater distances, some imported in brides’ nuptial coffers and many more commissioned and used to unite women separated by their politically advantageous marriages. Sisters and mothers, grandmothers and aunts, daughters and cousins, as well as friends and allies, all exchanged works of art with shared stories and iconographies. These pieces were the tokens that served as tribute, the centerpieces of rituals and ceremonies, the precious keepsakes enjoyed in intimate places, and the markers of architectural spaces often also founded or endowed by these women.

Theories of feminism, anthropology, sociology, and geography, among others, can all aid in the interpretation of the movement of works of art by women. New technologies such as GIS mapping and digital modeling enable us to visualize the international trajectories of works of art, as well as the movement and placement of them within architectural space. Proposals for this panel could include papers concerning women living between 300-1500. While proposals discussing European examples are anticipated, those analyzing any culture are encouraged. Papers might discuss women moving their objects in ritual space; the international, cross-cultural fertilization of the arts resulting from women’s gifts; the mapping of women’s identity through placement of objects; or class and women’s movement of their objects.

Fluctuating Networks: The Constructive Role of Broken Bonds in the Medieval Mediterranean and Beyond

Fluctuating Networks: The Constructive Role of Broken Bonds in the Medieval Mediterranean and Beyond, 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 14–17, 2015

The Medieval Studies Research Group at the University of Lincoln (UK), seeks papers for one sponsored panel at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, May 14-17, 20145. The theme is: Fluctuating Networks: The Constructive Role of Broken Bonds in the Medieval Mediterranean and Beyond.

The aim of this session is to re-consider theories and approaches to the study of medieval social, political, economic and cultural networks from multidisciplinary perspectives. The medieval Mediterranean, as a space of interaction and communication, offers a myriad of possibilities to explore, which increase even more when considering its connections with Europe and the rest of the known world.

In particular, we would welcome studies which examine how agents and circumstances, which in principle undermined and destroyed pre-existing bonds, in reality generated parallel structures and alternative webs of relatedness. Political conspiracy is a case in point. Similarly, betrayal could be read as an alteration of a system of trust, which simply shifted toward other individuals with whom new connections were established.

Through the analysis of textual and material sources, as well as visual art and architecture, this panel seeks to explore ideas and narratives of exclusion as potential seeds for new or renewed types of private and public networks. Ethnic, religious, political, economic, legal and cultural aspects were all at stake when de-constructing, while re-constructing, bonds between individuals and entire communities.

Possible areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Conspiracy and alternative networks
  • Revolt and rebellion
  • Exile and excommunication
  • Treason and betrayal (multiple interpretations)
  • Trade, boycott and commercial agreements/disagreements
  • Criminal associations
  • ‘Otherness’ within and outside ethnic and religious communities
  • Changing networks and legal practices
  • Marital and familial connections
  • Secular and monastic bonds
  • Diplomacy and the role of ambassadors, spies, etc.
  • Breaking bonds in historical writing and the construction of memory
  • Comparative views and socio-anthropological perspectives

Presence and InVisibility – Sign-bearing Artefacts in Sacral Spaces

Presence and InVisibility – Sign-bearing Artefacts in Sacral Spaces, Heidelberg, February 23–25, 2015

For many cultures sign-bearing artefacts are an immanent component of sacral spaces, which constitute themselves through their presence. This applies to actual specific places, as well as to cultural space in its broadest sense. In the latter case, sacral space is to be understood as social instead of architectural.

The conference will focus on the interaction of mobile or immobile sign-bearing artefacts – ranging from smallest objects to entire buildings – and the protagonists of sacral spaces in Europe and the Near East. By analysing material residues of advanced civilizations from antiquity to the middle ages, the entire spectrum of religions within this temporal and geographical margin shall be investigated, including phenomena generally termed as “magical”. An important point of investigation within this context will be the correlation of presence and InVisibility of these artefacts, as well as cultural or religious changes and transcultural relations.

The term “sign” includes all signs found on artefacts that aim to communicate in any way, may it be in characters, in pictographic signs or other undetermined forms.

Questions of interest in the context of presence and visibility/invisibility of sign-bearing artefacts could include: Are all these sign-bearing artefacts aimed at a specific group of people? Could their messages be received by others? Do authors, scribes, or commissioners put effort in reaching a specific circle of people, and if so, how? Is the visibility of such an artefact or a sign necessary to ensure the delivery of the intended message? Are artefacts or signs of restricted visibility actually to be seen as visually restricted or are they simply intended for a specific group of recipients? Do visible and invisible artefacts or signs differ in their effect on protagonists of sacral spaces? What about artefacts or signs that are visible but bear messages that cannot be understood without further means? Is an artefact always a mere medium of a message or can it be a message itself?

What practices were performed in this context and with these artefacts? Could the knowledge of presence be more important than the actual presence? Is presence exclusively provided through visibility? In what way could the material properties or conditions influence the visibility/invisibility or presence of an artefact?

The conference shall address these questions and attempt to answer them through lectures by national and international researchers. Contributions from all disciplines are welcome. The length of a lecture should not surpass 30 minutes and can be held in English or in German.

Capturing the Un-Representable: Artifacts and Landscapes between Mental and Material Worlds

Capturing the Un-Representable: Artifacts and Landscapes between Mental and Material Worlds, Center for Ancient Studies Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of Pennsylvania, December 5–7, 2014

Humanistic disciplines typically focus their investigations on tangible, material remains, such as texts, artifacts, architecture, and landscapes, analyzing them as autonomous objects. However, material remains can also be understood as traces – evidence of greater images, landscapes, and spaces that existed in the minds of their creators and users. What anthropologists call the “life world” is processed in the mind and thus becomes a cultural construct, subsequently made manifest through design as objects, landscapes, and architectures.  In turn, these physical manifestations may be used to access the imaginaire of the culture that constructed them. Our conference aims to examine what such material remains evince about the thoughts, imaginations, and mental motivations of ancient and medieval cultures (Old and New World) – that is, how do material remains mediate between mental and material worlds?

The annual graduate student conference, sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, aims to present a diverse set of methodological interventions that link material culture to historical imagination.  Our goal is productive dialogue about the utility of methods employed in different geographic regions, time periods, and disciplines on the topic at hand (see below).  We hope to accomplish our task by mixing graduate students with scholars at various stages of their careers and by means of a culminating methods workshop.

Our conference asks the following questions: How can we recover the afterlife of artifacts and landscapes in human imagination?  And how do imagined artifacts and landscapes have bearing on actual ones?  What can the agency of an object tell us about the ‘intentions’ of its creators and users?  Creator intention is arguably embedded both in the object’s reason for being as well as in the material form it takes.  How do archaeological objects reflect mental conceptions about whatever the object was ‘designed’ to be?  Does our inability to explain ‘intention’ reflect our own loss of codes to understanding that ‘original’ meaning?  Does considering the agency of the artifact help us to better understand (and decode) the mental world behind its production and use?

The conference will consist of a Friday evening reception and keynote address, with the main conference panels on Saturday and a methods workshop on Sunday morning. Each of the conference panels will be moderated by invited established scholars. After the conference sessions, a short workshop will give the speakers the opportunity to receive feedback and discuss their papers in more detail.

We invite submissions from graduate students and recent PhDs in any field studying ancient and medieval cultures (both Old and New World), such as religious studies, art history, anthropology and textual/literary studies. Cross-disciplinary approaches are especially welcomed.

Potential paper topics could include:

  • Artifacts that indicate planned or imagined but perhaps unrealized architecture and landscapes.
  • Artifacts composed of words suggestive of greater mental images; words as representations and traces.
  • The relationship of textual and visual/material representations; ekphrasis.
  • Contradiction and multiplicity in representations; aesthetics and modes of viewing or reading.
  • The role of the tangible artifact in the creation (and destruction) of mental images.
  • Imagined landscapes and real terrain.
  • Mental mapping; experience of place; coding and decoding; re-connecting representations to real terrain.
  • New methodologies for accessing and studying mental imagery or conceptions that have not been preserved (or may never have been constructed) as representations in material culture.

The Cross in Medieval Art

The Cross in Medieval Art, ICMA Sponsored Session at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, May 14–17, 2015

Recent art-historical research has brought us new understandings of the central symbol of Christianity, the Cross, in different places, at different times, in different media, and with different theoretical and conceptual foci. The Cross, its representations and significations, and the appearance and materiality of those representations, features in many areas of current research, but not often as a central subject to be dealt with thematically and comparatively. This session invites considerations of images depicting, representing or referring to the Cross in any media, and across the middle ages, from early to late. The aim of the session is to consider what can be gained at this particular moment in scholarship from a common concentration on the theme of the Cross. Therefore, proposers are invited especially to consider their subject matter in light of theoretical perspectives that have been prominent in recent art-historical scholarship, such as (but not limited to) affect, emotion, movement, medium and materiality.

The Eye of the Dragon: Viewing a Medieval Iconography from the Other Side

The Eye of the Dragon: Viewing a Medieval Iconography from the Other Side, panel at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 14–17, 2015

From the iconic heroism of Saint George to the resolute piety of Margaret of Antioch; from the arrow-shooting Bahram Gur to anonymous spear-wielding riders, slayers of dragons have received considerable art historical attention.  Individual slayers, as well as the iconography itself have been extensively studied and critically contextualized to reveal multi-layered meanings and changing identities. In his study on the Islamic Rider of the Gerona Beatus, O. K. Werckmeister demonstrated how, in the context of the Reconquista, the identity of the slayer could switch from good to evil, while Oya Pancaroglu argued that in Medieval Anatolia slayer images were both products and facilitators of cross-cultural exchange. Dragons and other monsters have been under the lens of art historians, too. Michael Camille and Debra Strickland have emphasized their roles as surrogates for social types and political adversaries. In that sense, the victims of the slayers, though independent of the iconography, have also been studied. However, it is difficult to say that the perspectives of the victims have received equal attention.

This panel calls for papers that will look at the slayer iconography from the position of the slain rather than the slayer.  It seeks papers that will approach the image visually and conceptually from bottom up and explore alternative and innovative interpretations.  What can this switch of gaze reveal about the relationship between the dragon and the slayer? In what novel ways can we interpret the visual asymmetry between them?  Would it correspond to actual social asymmetries, or to their subversion? Does the diagonal of the spear pin down and stabilize differences and antagonisms, or does it cut across and mediate between them?  Especially welcome are papers that move beyond Western European examples and provide comparative perspectives.

Reimagining the Middle Ages (c.500–c.1500)

Reimagining the Middle Ages (c.500-1500), panel at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 14–17, 2015

This panel seeks to bring together scholars whose work reimagines some aspect of the medieval world and/or encourages new perspectives on older topics. We welcome papers focusing on either Europe or the Islamic world in any era c.500–c.1500. This panel will complement a roundtable discussion of Christian Raffensperger’s Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World held at the 2014 annual meeting of the Ohio Academy of History.

HASTAC 2015: Exploring the Art & Science of Digital Humanities

HASTAC 2015: Exploring the Art & Science of Digital Humanities, Michigan State University, May 27–30, 2015

Join us on the campus of Michigan State University to celebrate and explore the range of Digital Humanities Scholarship, Research, and Performance! We welcome sessions that address, exemplify, and interrogate the interdisciplinary nature of DH work. HASTAC 2015 challenges participants to consider how the interplay of science, technology, social sciences, humanities, and arts are producing new forms of knowledge, disrupting older forms, challenging or reifying power relationships, among other possibilities.

Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference

Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference, Bucknell University, November 14–16, 2014

Bucknell University, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will host its first annual international digital scholarship conference. The theme of the conference is “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Faculty Research” with the goal of gathering a broad community of scholar-practitioners engaged in collaborative digital scholarship in research and teaching.

This conference will bring together a broad community of scholar-practitioners engaged in collaborative digital scholarship in research and teaching. We encourage presentations that emphasize forms of collaboration: between institutions of higher education; across disciplines; between faculty, librarians, and technologists; and between faculty and students. We welcome contributions from scholars, educators, technologists, librarians, administrators, and students who use digital tools and methods, and encourage submissions from emerging and established scholar-practitioners alike, including those who are new to digital collaboration.

Submission topics may include but are not limited to: engaging with space and place; creating innovative teaching and learning environments; perspectives on implications for the individual’s own research and pedagogy within the institutional landscape, etc.  Presentations may take the form of interactive presentations, short papers, project demos, electronic posters, panel discussions, or lightning talks.

Medial (re)presentations – various messages

Medial (re)presentations – various messages: leadership, ideology and crowds in the Roman Empire of the 4th century AD, Göttingen, February 18–20, 2015

The fourth century AD was a dynamic period within Roman history. Various transformations in the imperial administrative structures, the position of the emperor(s), and the emerging dominance of Christianity induced the Roman Empire into the world of Late Antiquity. Instead of focusing on the ‘exceptional’ emperors ruling in the fourth century, that is mainly Constantine, Julian and Theodosius the Great, our workshop concentrates on the fourth century at large, with a particular focus on ideology (imperial and episcopal), and crowd behavior. The central question to this workshop is how leadership, both imperial and church leadership, functioned in the fourth century. How did leaders tie their subjects to them and in which ways could they mobilize their people? How do we catch sight of this relationship between leaders and subjects in the various types of sources? To which extent did this differ from earlier periods; what changed and what remained the same in this dynamic century that accommodated both old and new?

By focusing on imperial and episcopal ideology as well as on crowd behavior, we will deal with the perspectives of both leaders and subjects, the two opposite ends of the power specter. As recent studies have demonstrated the necessity of analyzing the different ancient media, such as coinage, inscriptions, monuments and literature, into their own context and medial discourse instead of ‘pick and mixing’ them, the methodological framework in which these two interrelated themes will be placed is that of systematic medium analysis.  We welcome papers on the following subjects:  

  • The different media that were used to send imperial and episcopal messages (coins, laws, architecture, literature, liturgy etc.)
  • Audience targeting and ideological differentiation
  • The roles of different actors in the creation of ideology (emperor, bishop, urban prefect, masses, etc.)
  • Visual evidence of the relationship between leadership and subjects (via for instance art, churches, but also via modern techniques such as Virtual Reality Technology)
  • Urban crowds and the ways in which these were controlled by both imperial and church leaders

Organizers: Erika Manders (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) and Daniëlle Slootjes (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Abstracts, no more than 400 words, can be submitted to Erika Manders and Daniëlle Slootjes before the 15th of August, 2014.


Visual Narratives – Cultural Identities

Visual Narratives – Cultural Identities, University of Hamburg, November 27–29, 2014

Increasingly, cultural studies focus on stories and the narration of stories as important catalysts for the constitution, confirmation, and modification of cultural identities. Not only in times of what seems like floods of images but since images are made a large part of these stories and narratives is communicated by visual media. Constantly it can be observed that elaborate iconographic programs are developed to establish specific meanings more or less successfully as essential elements of cultural identities.

To analyse and interpret visual media from such a perspective it is, on the one hand, necessary to develop categories to describe their narrative aspect. The current state of research is heterogeneous: On narratology of film and graphic literature there are rich discussions and developed methods and theories whilst research in the field of single and static images is quite fragmentary. On the other hand methods have to be explored which facilitate cultural interpretations of visual narratives and which may decode the deeper meanings transmitted – also from times and epochs long gone. Finally, it has to be considered how narrative contents participate in the construction of cultural identities.

Basic questions for the conference could be:

  • By which means may the narrative aspects of visual media be described?
  • Which are the methods to decode the transmitted messages?
  • Which strategies are used to construct cultural identities visually?
  • Do, in turn, changed or modified identities lead to different patterns of stories and narrations?- What can be gained from a comparison of visual-narrative communication with other forms, for example literary ones?

The conference is organised by students of archaeology, art history, and cultural anthropology. It will contain lectures and workshops on the main topics and provide opportunities for detailed discussion. We are especially looking for trans- and interdisciplinary contributions which deal with the analysis and interpretation of narratives and narrations in visual media from narratological and (visual) culture studies perspectives. There is no limitation to certain times or cultures. The contributions are going to be published after the conference.

Digital Humanities Forum 2014

Nodes & Networks in the Humanities: Geometries, Relationships, Processes, Digital Humanities Forum 2014, The University of Kansas, September 12–13, 2014

The network has emerged as a powerful model in humanities scholarship in recent years. It is used as a visualization and analytic tool to explore objects, ideas or events and their relationships; as a method to discover, link and create new resources and data; and as a social structure through which we conduct our scholarly and social lives and develop our self-identity. Our digital objects, and our digital selves, all exist in "the Net." As Elijah Meeks argues, "The network is not a social network or geographic network or logical network but rather a primitive object capable of and useful for the modeling and analysis of relationships between a wide variety of objects."

KU’s 2014 Digital Humanities Forum will explore these and related topics in a full conference day on Saturday, September 13, which will follow a full day of (gratis) Digital Humanities workshops on September 12.

We welcome proposals for papers, posters, panel sessions and workshops on topics from your own research that relate to some aspects of nodes and networks, such as:

  • Network visualizations or network analysis tools and methods that further humanistic research
  • The human and processes of identity in the networked environment
  • How nodes and networks have descriptive and explanatory power in humanistic research (and are not just DH fetish objects)
  • Dynamics of multidimensional data
  • Social media and networks
  • New scholarship through the use of human or machine networks (e.g. crowdsourcing, linked open data)
  • Collaborative scholarly networks across space, time and disciplinary knowledge
  • Innovative developments in scholarly communication in a networked world (altmetrics, open peer review, collaborative authoring)
  • The implications for humanities scholarship and pedagogy in a global, digitally networked world
  • Prosopographical approaches to history illuminating spatial, temporal, conceptual or other networked relationships, and related topics

Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin 2014/15

Digital Classicist Seminar, Berlin, Tuesdays, October 2014–February 2015

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the third series of the Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin. This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar, is organised in association with the German Archaeological Institute and the Excellence Cluster TOPOI. It will run during the winter term of the academic year 2014/15.

We invite submissions on any kind of research which employs digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable a better or new understanding of the ancient world. We encourage contributions not only from Classics but also from the entire field of "Altertumswissenschaften", to include the ancient world at large, such as Egypt and the Near East.

Themes may include digital editions, natural language processing, image processing and visualisation, linked data and the semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can facilitate the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and answering new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as to information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Seminars will run **fortnightly on Tuesday evenings (18:00-19:30)** from October 2014 until February 2015 and will be hosted by the Excellence Cluster TOPOI and the German Archaeological Institute, both located in Berlin-Dahlem. The full programme, including the venue of each seminar, will be finalised and announced in September. As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be published online and we endeavour to provide accommodation for the speakers and contribute towards their travel expenses. There are plans to publish papers selected from the first three series of the seminar as a special issue of the new open access publication from TOPOI.

Medicine and Poetry: From the Greeks to the Enlightenment

Medicine and Poetry: From the Greeks to the Enlightenment, University of Miami, March 20, 2015

From Homer’s depiction of wounds and Lucretius on plague and death to Erasmus Darwin’s rhymed verse portrayals of plants and zoology and beyond, poetic texts have reflected, disseminated, and actively engaged with contemporary ideas about medicine and the body. While scholarly work on poetry or the history and philosophy of science has long proceeded in parallel, the conjunction of the two remains understudied. With the recent surge of interest in medical Humanities and sub-topics such as narrative medicine and the verbal (in)articulation of bodily pain, the time is right to propose a conference investigating how medical knowledge is expressed, often by non-specialists, in poetry.

We invite abstracts for 20-minute papers on any aspect of the relationship between poetry and medical thought from Classical antiquity through the Enlightenment, including, but not limited to:

  • The depiction of psychic as well as physical suffering in the Homeric epics.
  • The appearance of technical medical terminology in 5th century BCE drama.
  • Representations of others’ bodies as afflicted or diseased as in, for example, Catullus.
  • Representations of the poet’s own body as afflicted or diseased as in, for example, Ennius, Horace, and Persius.
  • The healing function of poetry (e.g. paean songs or the therapeutic aim of Lucretius’ De rerum natura)
  • The medical or physiological character of poetic disposition (e.g. melancholy as a peculiarly salient trait of Romantic and other poets)
  • The reception of Classical medical poetics in post-Classical periods.
  • Narrative therapy as a way to make sense of death and disease.
  • Poetry as a distinctive or even necessary medium for the expression of medical knowledge.

Keynote speaker: Brooke Holmes, Princeton University



for Byzantine Arts and Culture

Founded in 2010 through a generous gift from the Jaharis Family Foundation, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of knowledge about the rich heritage of Byzantine art and culture.

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