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Calls for Papers

Failure in the Middle Ages

Princeton University, March 22, 2019

It is with great pleasure that we issue a call for papers for the graduate conference in Medieval Studies to take place on Friday, March 22, 2019 at Princeton University: FAILURE IN THE MIDDLE AGES. Deeana Klepper of Boston University will be our keynote speaker.

Those historical events and actions that are widely considered ‘successful’ tend to receive the most scholarly attention. But alongside success always lurks its counterpart, failure. From disastrous crusades to bad harvests, people in the Middle Ages failed—a lot. Yet, failure is seldom treated as a standalone subject of study.

Broadly speaking, we are interested in endeavors that failed as well as in analysis of what it means to study failure. How did medieval individuals construe failure as a concept? How did they respond to their own failures? We invite considerations of this theme from numerous angles – unintended consequences, contingency, loss, and more are all acceptable aspects of this theme.

We encourage submissions from all disciplines by graduate students who study Late Antiquity or the Global Middle Ages.

Please submit abstracts of 250-750 words (or other inquiries) to Joe Snyder at J.Snyder@princeton.edu or Ariana Natalie Myers at aamyers@princeton.edu with the subject line PRINCETON GRAD CONFERENCE 2019 by January 22, 2019. We will notify submittors of our decision by February 22.

Discovery and Innovation in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

University of California, Berkeley
February 22-23, 2019

ScandGrads, the graduate organization affiliated with the Department of Scandinavian at the University of California, Berkeley, is proud to announce its 3rd annual interdisciplinary graduate student conference.

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“Invention” resonates in our modern world as a creative process. The term’s Latin root invenīre, however, speaks to a medieval and early modern past that conceived of innovation as an unearthing of the past. At the heart of these multiple understandings of invention is a sense of re-discovery through which ideas and materials manifest themselves in the human world.

This conference aims to explore inventions as both process and product in Scandinavia before 1800. Broadly defined, these conceptions may include technological advancements, the navigation of global landscapes, cartography and spatial knowledge, economic networks, religious and political thought, history of the book, the reception of architectural and artistic modes, and cosmology. These nuances of invention raise questions regarding the nature of knowledge production, the construction and dissemination of ideas, communications, interactions, and exchanges, and human-nonhuman entanglements in the pre-modern world. Also inherent in this discussion is the capacity of language to communicate or manipulate ideas as a point of tension as much in the pre-modern world as in historical practice today.

We invite papers from, but not limited to, literature, history, theology, linguistics, art history, economics, archaeology, and legal history, as well as interdisciplinary approaches, from graduate students and early career researchers. All interested applicants are encouraged to submit an abstract of 200 words to the organizing committee at scandgrads@gmail.com by October 30, 2018.

Conference Website: www.berkeleyscandinavian.wordpress.com

Entanglements in the Early Modern Mediterranean

At the Seventh Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO, USA, 17-19 June 2019

 Our present society is tightly connected: people, goods, information, and technology traverse the global community at remarkable speed, creating a complex web of relationships, or “entanglements,” that cross political, social, cultural, and economic boundaries. Such intricacies also existed in the early modern Mediterranean, particularly with the augmented personal contact and increased exchange of knowledge, culture, and commodities, set against conflict between rising states and hardened religious boundaries. Over the last few decades, historians have increasingly focused upon these entanglements, highlighting the complexity of life, both “in and of” the Mediterranean.

We are organizing panels that accentuate complexities or “entanglements” in the early modern Mediterranean. We are especially interested in paper and panel proposals that focus on science/medicine, economy, and religion, not only the historical entanglements but also the interaction of these topics methodologically. Additional ideas are welcome for consideration.

Please send title (15-word maximum), abstract (150-word maximum), three keywords, and one-page CV to the panel organizers, Beth Petitjean (beth.petitjean@slu.edu) and Dru Swadener (dru.swadener@slu.edu)  by December 15, 2018.

 For more information on the SMRS, please visit http://smrs-slu.org.

Translating Back: Vernacular Sources and Prestige-Language Adaptations

More ICMS options...

Multilingual cultures develop complex practices—and theories—of translation. Since Rita Copeland theorized vernacular translation in the western Middle Ages as a means by which the authority of a Latin auctor could be at once appropriated and displaced, further important and explanatory frameworks have been proposed for understanding different aspects of medieval translation. Many account primarily for translation from Latin into a local vernacular and/or from (what has traditionally been understood as) a high-prestige vernacular into a lower-prestige vernacular. Though some recent scholarship has challenged such categorical distinctions, this is broadly the path that medieval translation appears most often to have taken—and that scholars have, accordingly, most often worked to understand.

This panel is interested in translation in the other direction: translations and other direct adaptations from any medieval vernacular, local language, or dialect into a lingua franca such as Latin, Arabic, or Greek, or (in later medieval England, for example) from English into French.

What texts or kinds of texts were translated, to use Laura Saetveit Miles’s formulation, “upstream”? In what cultural contexts? If theories of translation often seem to subscribe implicitly to King Alfred’s philosophy that vernacular translation ensures continued possession (and perhaps even a kind of democratization) of knowledge, does translating “upstream” restrict knowledge, or does it grant works a broader readership? How do “upstream” or “back”-translations fit into, complicate, or nuance frameworks proposed thus far for understanding medieval translation? We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on these or related questions.

Please send proposals with an abstract of approximately 250 words and a Participant InformationForm to marianhomansturnbull@berkeley.edu and alexandra.reider@yale.edu by September 15, 2018, or sooner if possible. Preliminary inquiries and expressions of interest are welcome.

Mediocrity in the Middle Ages: Finding the Middle Ground

11th Annual Medievalists @ Penn (M@P) Graduate Conference
February 22nd, 2019: University of Pennsylvania

Keynote: Sonja Drimmer (UMass Amherst, Art History)

What makes something “mediocre” in the Middle Ages? We often assume that if a manuscript, literary text, or work of visual or performance art has survived from the medieval period, it is exceptional in some way. Modern scholarship tends to enforce this assumption by either praising a work for its beauty and importance, or arguing for the centrality and exceptionality of something that past scholarship has ignored. But what of things that have survived that are just OK? How can clarifying the boundaries of what modern or medieval critics consider(ed) “good” and “bad” art still leave room for mediocrity? What can this middle ground teach us about form, aesthetics, language, and reception? Resisting the notion that any texts surviving from the Middle Ages are likely exceptional in some way, this conference seeks to examine unexceptional artistic productions in the Middle Ages, to consider what we can learn from medial texts and artifacts, and to critically assess the metrics by which we evaluate quality. We hope that this topic will challenge the spectrum endpoints of what has been labelled “good” or “bad” by searching for the middle ground. 

We invite 15-20 minute papers on this subject from any discipline, including History, Art History, Musicology,  Manuscript Studies, Literary Studies, Religious Studies, Critical Race Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-deluxe manuscript codices and fragments
  • Artists and writers outside conventional canons
  • Medieval theories of artistic quality (or lack thereof)
  • Microhistories of “ordinary” medieval people
  • Average devotional practices; the religious lives of the unsaintly
  • Contemporary and historical reception and criticism
  • Differences in quality between text and image, or text and music
  • Unexceptional examples of common genres, such as romance
  • Translation, adaptation, and/or reproduction of medieval objects
  • Mediality of the “Middle” Ages

Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words as attachments to pennmedieval@gmail.com by December 2, 2018. Submissions should include your name, paper title, email, and institutional and departmental affiliation. Papers will be due February 12, 2019 for distribution to faculty respondents.

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Medievalists @ Penn (M@P) is a reading group run by graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. Our purpose is to foster discussion and interaction among students and scholars of all aspects of the Middle Ages and to provide mutual support for the development of a broad interdisciplinary understanding of medieval culture.
http://pennmedieval.blogspot.com/

How to be Global in the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

The Annual Early Moder Colloquium Graduate Student Conference

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, February 15-16, 2019

With keynote lectures by:
Bernadette Andrea (UCSB) and Christine Chism (UCLA)

And panel responses from the medieval and early modern faculty at the University of Michigan

 

Recent efforts to address the global dimension of the medieval and early modern worlds have challenged the ways we think about cultural production in Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Underlying this body of scholarship is the insight that no culture is produced in isolation––it is shaped by the influences of trade, emigration, exile, and empire, as much as it is by the persistence of tradition. In attending to the history of cross-cultural connections, recent scholarship has produced interesting areas of inquiry regarding different conceptions of “the world,” the methodological problems arising from the tension between our conceptions of the local and the global, the difficulties of periodizing a polycentric world, as well as the potential limitations of adopting a global perspective.

 

Responding to the global turn in premodern scholarship, this conference is guided by a series of ethical and political questions: as contemporary scholars, is it our responsibility to adopt a global perspective in our work? How can we do so without appropriating or eliding cultural difference or sacrificing specificity? The EMC welcomes proposals for papers that explore the material and imaginative conditions that make “the global” a salient category of analysis. In doing so, we hope to explore how the world was experienced before the “globalization” of later centuries, and to facilitate conversations about the different methodologies and ethical stakes of being global, both in our scholarship and in our classrooms.

 

We invite fifteen-minute presentations on medieval or early modern topics by graduate students in any discipline that think productively about art, literature, or representation in relation to two or more of the following categories:

 

  • Language, form, translation
  • Performance and embodiment
  • Adaptation, appropriation, modality
  • Visuality, materiality, textuality
  • Publication and media
  • Transmission and cross-cultural contact
  • Trade and communication
  • Travel, migration, settlement
  • Nation, colonialism, empire, imagined communities
  • Cartography, geography, cosmology
  • Climate change, environment, ecologies
  • Cross-cultural negotiations of race, ethnicity, and religion
  • Concepts of “East” and “West”
  • Hemispheric analysis
  • Cross-cultural negotiations of gender and/or sexuality
  • Periodization and temporality
  • Methods of reading, research practice, pedagogy

 

The Early Modern Colloquium is an interdisciplinary graduate student group at the University of Michigan and will give priority to abstracts submitted by graduate students. Please submit 250-300 word abstracts with a corresponding title to the Early Modern Colloquium (earlymodcolloq@gmail.com) with the subject line “EMC Conference” by December 1st, 2018.

More Kalamazoo 2019 Panels

Below are three calls for papers for the upcoming 54th ICMS at Kalamazoo, May 9-12, 2019.

Yale Medieval Studies is sponsoring the following panels: “Constructing Sacred Space,” “Scripts, Ciphers, Shorthands,” and “Odyssean Figures in the Medieval World.” 

We welcome submissions from all disciplines and specialties!

Abstracts of 250 words are due by September 8, 2018 and should be sent to icmsyalecfp2019@gmail.comI would also be delighted to answer any questions you might have.

Constructing Sacred Space

Sacred space is at the heart of devotional practice for many religious traditions: its establishment, demarcation, and experience is integrated into communal liturgical practice and private devotion. Scholars of Anthropology, Art History, History, and Literature have all interrogated the construction of sacred space and its function for the community and the individual. Although Justinian's Digesta (I.VIII.6.3) sets out the creation of sacred space as a specifically communal activity, when space is decoupled from the strictures of ecclesiastical law, the possibilities for the construction and experience of sacred space are multiplied. Moreover, there are both textual and architectural transpositions of sacred sites in Jerusalem and Rome onto remote locations across Europe.

Papers should address the construction of physical, simulated, imagined, and fictional sacred space– ranging from the architectural to the liturgical to the imitative to the literary. Papers might address topics such as architectural design, liturgical practice, narrative descriptions of built space or the sanctification of space, imagined or simulated sacred space, enshrinement, and the establishment of sacred spaces outside of churches.

Scripts, Ciphers, Shorthands

Writing in the Middle Ages is often described in terms of language, scribes, and authors. Yet, the practice of writing calls attention to both technical elements of composition and to the visual aspect of the script, spurring innovations in efficiency and a desire to imitate or adapt hands to a variety of uses and settings. From the fake and decorative scripts described by Christopher Wood to the notarial arts recently discussed by John Haines, abbreviation and symbolic uses of language permeate both visual and manuscript culture. More specifically, ciphers were developed, used, and discussed by figures as various as al-Kindī, Hrabanus Maurus, Hildegard von Bingen, and Roger Bacon. This panel seeks papers that interrogate medieval systems of writing, specifically notarial shorthands, ciphers, and simulated scripts, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We hope this panel will be of interest to paleographers and codicologists, but also to scholars working on the use of script in the visual arts and in textual transmission.

Odyssean Figures in the Medieval World

Described in antiquity as the first historian, the brave, lonely traveller who ‘saw the cities of many peoples’ (Polybius, 12.27.11; Diodorus Siculus, 1.1.2), Odysseus represents a provocative site to explore classical receptions, medieval globalism and encounters with alterities. We invite papers that explore the following themes relating to the figure of Odysseus:

• Exile, displacement and nostalgia
• Travel, wonder and paradoxography
• Autopsia and historiography

Throughout the Middle Ages, the characters of Homer were reimagined in new cultural contexts and a wide range of vernacular literary traditions. Mediated primarily through Latin sources (Vergil, Statius, Dares Phrygius), Homeric figures were adapted into literary and also oral traditions. This panel seeks broad conversations across diverse medieval communities and literatures, specifically through the figure of Odysseus. Papers that discuss Odyssean themes in oral and/or non-Western traditions are particularly welcome.

Kalamazoo: Women and Rulership in the Medieval Mediterranean

Call for Papers: 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 9-12, 2019.

Deadline for proposals: September 10

Organizers: Samantha Summers, University of Toronto; Stacey Murrell, Brown University

Recent trends in medieval scholarship have sought to diversify modern understandings of the medieval world, shifting academic focus from the “great men of history” to those whose contributions to history have been undervalued and underexplored. The result is the development of a more globalized and inclusive medieval historiography that aims to account for and celebrate the histories of all genders, religions, and ethnicities. As a collection of communities and polities joined by trade and history but encompassing a vast number of religions, cultures, and languages, the Mediterranean provides an ideal space in which to explore these themes and experiences and confront questions of identity and transcultural phenomena. Moreover, a number of historians of rulership are increasingly conceptualizing it as plural or composite, decentering the person of the king and encompassing members of the royal family and household(s), nobles, bureaucrats, and numerous others. 

This panel will thus explore how women around the Mediterranean performed rulership from myriad positionalities. We aim to provoke discussion concerning the political impact of women who participated in rulership in distinct ways, as well as the means through which this was expressed over time. The panel will also take up the question of whether agency remains a useful category of analysis when approaching the roles of women who enacted many of the fundamental mechanisms of composite rulership. We therefore invite papers concerning concubines, consorts, queens regnant, and women in ruling families from all of the various Mediterranean polities. Papers which explore the above themes using the depictions of these women in chronicles, illuminated manuscripts, and court records are particularly welcome. 

If interested, please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words for a 15-20 minute paper presentation along with a CV and brief biography (1-2 sentences), completed Participant Information Form, and any technological requirements, to Samantha Summers (samantha.summers@mail.utoronto.ca) and Stacey Murrell (stacey_murrell@brown.edu) by September 10. 

Profanity: The Obscene and the Secular in Early Cultures

2018 Early Cultures Graduate Student Conference

“Profanity: The Obscene and the Secular in Early Cultures”

University of California, Irvine

Conference Date: October 12th & 13th, 2018

 

Paper Proposal Deadline: July 1st, 2018

The Center for Early Cultures at UCI is pleased to announce our 2018 Conference – “Profanity: The Obscene and the Secular in Early Cultures.” Our keynote speaker will be Joel Slotkin, Associate Professor of English at Towson University, whose scholarship on monstrous bodies in his recent book, Sinister Aesthetics: The Appeal of Evil in Early Modern English Literature, will provide valuable insights into the nature of profanity and obscenity in the period.

 

Although we might colloquially understand “profanity” to be a term for obscene or offensive language, we ought not to overlook its etymological root in the “profane,” or the secular, more generally. Indeed, as this link exemplifies, coarse language seems to have been equated historically with worldly language, or the language of those who are tied to the profane world, as opposed to the sacred world, either circumstantially or by choice. This year’s Early Cultures Conference seeks to investigate the complex nuances of these dual definitions of “profanity” – at once a designation of obscenity and of secularity – and the way they relate to their opposing poles: decorum and the sacred.

 

I concord with these considerations of secularity and obscenity in the past, we are interested in work that investigates modern uses of profanity and the profane, especially the ways in which those uses knowingly or unknowingly draw upon the past to authorize them. Indeed, we hope that in a conference where we are continually considering the values and sensibilities of the past, we will also shed light on the moral, spiritual, and worldly attachments of the present. Building upon the interdisciplinary nature of the Center for Early Cultures at UCI, we hope to bring in papers that approach the nature of profanity and the profane from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to History, Visual Studies, Comparative Literature, Classics, English, and Drama.

 

Possible topics for papers may include:

 

• Obscene, offensive, insulting, or inflammatory features in early works

Contemptus mundi thinkers who rejected the profane

• Works that develop or value the profane against sacred history

• Profane works that flaunt decorum or rhetorical conventions

• The tension between the sacred and profane in conceptualizations of political power

• The elision/restoration of obscenity in early works for modern audiences

We invite abstracts of 300 words or less, accompanied by a 1-2 page CV, to be sent to early.cultures.conference@gmail.com by July 1st, 2018.

Decentering the Global Middle Ages

February 8-9, 2019
University of Michigan

Deadline: September 17, 2018

The Department of History and Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program at the University of Michigan invite proposals for a February 8-9, 2019 symposium, “De-centering the Global Middle Ages.”

This symposium will contribute to the burgeoning body of scholarship on the meaning of the “medieval” and “Middle Ages” in increasingly interdisciplinary and cross-regional conceptions of the premodern world.

This symposium invites researchers to consider scholarly perspectives of the “global Middle Ages” by presenting research and resources that address the connectivity and mobility of the globe c. 500-1600 CE. What work does the idea of “the Middle Ages” do in our scholarship, and what do we gain from a shared or comparative notion of the medieval? Papers and presentations will aim to contribute to a more inclusive view of the premodern world that de-centers European interpretations of the Middle Ages and recognizes dynamic globalisms. A keynote address will be delivered by Valerie Hansen (Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University), specialist in premodern China and Silk Road Studies, whose current book project is entitled: The World in the Year 1000: When Globalization Began.

Faculty and graduate students are welcome to apply to deliver a lightning talk + complementary paper and/or a primary source-based research presentation. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words.

Lightning Talks

The symposium will hold two panels of lightning talks (8 minutes each) based on short, pre-circulated papers (approx. 4 pages) summarizing current work on globalized conceptions of and connections within the medieval world. Lightning talks will engage field- or region-specific conceptualizations of “the medieval/Middle Ages.”

Roundtable discussions with respondents will follow.

Primary Source-based Research Presentations

Submissions will also be accepted for 15- to 18-minute research presentations, each focused on a particular medieval primary source (text, image, object, etc.) that is useful for thinking in comparative or global perspectives. The source (an image or a selection from the source) should be pre-circulated to attendees.

Each talk will be followed by a moderated discussion.

All presenters are asked to submit a brief bibliography (5-10 entries) on resources related to their lightning talks or research presentations. After the symposium, these bibliographies will be uploaded to the Global Middle Ages Project website (http://globalmiddleages.org/, University of Texas at Austin) and contribute to the development of a canon of literature on the global Middle Ages.

Deadline: September 17, 2018

How to Apply:

Applications should be submitted in PDF form to conference organizers Paula R. Curtis (prcurtis@umich.edu) and Amanda Respess (arespess@umich.edu by September 17. Those submitting both lightning talks and primary source presentations should prepare separate abstracts. Please include the following information:

Name:
Affiliation:
Faculty/Graduate Student/Independent Scholar:
Field:
Regional Specialization:
Proposed Format (Lightning Talk/Primary Source Presentation):
Abstracts of no longer than 300 words.

Notifications of acceptance will be made by no later than October 15, 2018.

Medieval Art and Architecture at the Crossroads of the Latin, Greek, and Slavic Cultural Spheres

April 5-6, 2019
Princeton University

Organizers: Alice Isabella Sullivan, Ph.D. (University of Michigan)
                  Maria Alessia Rossi, Ph.D. (The Index of Medieval Art, Princeton University) 

Sumission deadline: August 15, 2018

Description: In response to the global turn in art history, this two-day symposium explores the temporal and geographic parameters of the study of medieval art, seeking to challenge the ways we think about the artistic production of Eastern Europe. Serbia, Bulgaria, and the Romanian principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania, among other centers, took on prominent roles in the transmission and appropriation of western medieval, byzantine, and Slavic artistic traditions, as well as the continuation of the cultural legacy of Byzantium in the later centuries of the empire, and especially in the decades after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

This symposium will be the first such initiative to explore, discuss, and focus on the art, architecture, and visual culture of regions of the Balkans and the Carpathians (c.1300-c.1550). We aim to raise issues of cultural contact, transmission, and appropriation of western medieval, byzantine, and Slavic artistic and cultural traditions in eastern European centers, and consider how this heritage was deployed to shape notions of identity and visual rhetoric in these regions from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. This event will offer a comparative and multi-disciplinary framework, ranging from art history to archeology and from material culture to architectural history. We aim to create a platform where scholars at various stages of their careers can discuss their research and engage in dialogue regarding the specificities but also the shared cultural heritage of these regions of Eastern Europe that developed eclectic visual vocabularies and formed a cultural landscape beyond medieval, byzantine, and modern borders. Papers could address topics that include, but are not limited to:

  • How cross-cultural contact facilitated the transfer, appropriation, and transmission of ideas and artistic traditions across geographical and temporal boundaries in Eastern Europe (c.1300-c.1550)·        
  •  Artistic and iconographic developments as expressions of particular social, political, and ecclesiastical circumstances and dialogues in the Balkans and the Carpathians·        
  •  The intentions and consequences of diplomatic missions and dynastic marriages in the visual agenda of eastern European centers·       
  •   Workshop practices and traveling artists beyond medieval political and religious borders·        
  •  Patronage and new constructs of identity before and after 1453 

Interested scholars should submit a paper title, a 500-word abstract, and a CV by August 15, 2018 to the organizers at: eclecticism.symposium@gmail.com 

Funds will be available to defray the cost of travel and accommodations for participants whose papers are accepted in the Symposium. So far, this event is supported in part by the International Center of Medieval Art (www.medievalart.org), the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture (www.shera-art.org), the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (piirs.princeton.edu), and The Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University (ima.princeton.edu).