Skip to Content

Calls for Papers

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 ( and Stacey Murrell ( 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 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 (, 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 ( and Amanda Respess ( by September 17. Those submitting both lightning talks and primary source presentations should prepare separate abstracts. Please include the following information:

Faculty/Graduate Student/Independent Scholar:
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: 

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 (, the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture (, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (, and The Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University (