Calls for Papers/Jul 30, 2019

The Borders of Life and Death

The Borders of Life and Death lead image

The Borders of Life and Death, session at 27th International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 6–9, 2020

It is perhaps one of the ultimate boundaries—that between the living and the dead.

And yet, in the records and narratives of the Middle Ages, death was not only of huge significance, but also not necessarily as permanent as one might otherwise believe. These sessions will explore the borders between life and death: how did medieval people (in a broad geographical and chronological range) navigate the uncertainties and liminal spaces between the living and the dead, and between being alive and being dead? In what ways did medieval people conceptualize near death experiences? How did people attempt to predict their own death or that of others? In what ways did the rituals around death represent a syncretism of cultures as religious conversions spread through populations?

We invite papers from all disciplinary backgrounds and from scholars at all career levels. We especially welcome proposals for papers which explore items in the holdings at Wellcome Collection.

Possible paper topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Deathbeds, the last rites, prognosis
  • The Medieval Undead (zombies, ghosts, revenants)
  • Communication between the living and the dead (prayer, magical rites, exorcisms)
  • Wills and other documents relating to death
  • Near-death experiences and resurrection
  • Communities of the living and the dead

Session sponsor
Wellcome Collection

Session organizers
Joanne Edge, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester
Jude Seal, Royal Holloway, University of London