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Calls for Papers

Medieval Unfreedoms: Slavery, Servitude, and Trafficking in Humans before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade


We invite papers from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives on any topic related to medieval unfreedom, including:


Abstracts for individual papers and for sessions are invited. Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Send abstracts to

For information, contact Elizabeth Casteen at

• Forms of unfreedom after the end of ancient slavery and on cultural frontiers

• Unfreedom in the Byzantine, Islamic, and Latin Christian worlds

• Trafficking in humans across political and religious frontiers

• Concepts of humanity, race, ethnicity, religion, and freedom

• Gender, sexuality, and unfreedom

• The interaction between slaving zones and centers of power

• The unfree at royal and aristocratic courts

• Textual and artistic unfreedoms

• Law, rights, and unfree status

• Manumission, social

Superstition and Magic in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

April 20, 2018
Princeton University

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Michael Bailey

In an age when authorities attempt to assault our modern modes of critical thinking, the term “superstition” and its premodern associations take on rearranged values. Current political discourse denounces fake news and climate change as humbug with a zeal not unlike that of medieval and early modern establishments censuring false prophets and fallacious astrologers. Given these similarities, the classic narrative of a medieval society emerging into a modern one, “the disenchantment of the world” (Max Weber), urgently needs reappraisal. This conference proposes the examination of a wide range of evidence in various genres over time in order to foster this dialogue. In returning to the original meaning of “superstition” as an excessive fearfulness or belief, or a misapprehended and abused knowledge of a supernatural subject, how can we refine our understanding of superstition and magic in the premodern world? How can we make the overlaps between science, superstition, and magic productive?

We invite interdisciplinary submissions on diverse topics related to medieval and early modern superstition and magic. Some themes of the conference include, but are not limited to:

-        Control and influence exerted by the Church and universities

-        The historical development of demonology

-        The Witch Crisis: gender and authority  

-        Elite vs. folk magic; paganism and popular religion

-        Heresy and superstition

-        Depiction of magical elements in literature and visual culture

-        The impact of various religious reform movements, including the Reformation and Counterreformation, on belief, magic, and ritual

-        Music and metaphysics

-        Oaths, incantations, and spells: the power of words

-        Natural philosophy: astrology, alchemy, medical practices, etc.

-        Material history and archaeology 

-        Co-mingling of Eastern and Western traditions; book magic; Kabbalah

-        Esoteric belief systems and the rise of secret societies

-        The law: ordeals, witch-hunts, and policing of superstitious practices

In order to support participation by speakers from outside the northeastern United States, we are offering limited subsidies to help offset the cost of travel to Princeton.  Financial assistance may not be available for every participant, with funding priority going to those who have the farthest to travel.  Speakers will have the option of staying with a resident graduate student to defray their expenses.

Interested graduate students should submit abstracts of no more than 500 words to Sonja Andersen and Jonathan Martin at by February 15, 2018.

All applicants will be notified about their submissions by February 24, 2018. Presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes.

2018 Graduate Association of Medieval Studies (GAMS) Annual Conference: Land, Law, and Literature

5th Annual Medieval Studies Colloquium
University of Wisconsin-Madison

April 6-7, 2018

The UW-Madison GAMS Colloquium offers an opportunity for graduate students in multiple disciplines to present their research in the various fields of medieval studies, share and receive feedback, and participate in discussion on topics of interest with peers from a wider, interdisciplinary community of Medieval Studies scholars.

The two days of the Colloquium will include four structured panels of presentations, two lunch workshops, as well as two keynote speakers: Professor Thomas McSweeney (William & Mary) and Professor Scott Thompson Smith (Penn State). A reception will conclude the Colloquium on Saturday afternoon, for casual conversation and follow-up questions to the presenters and keynote speakers.

We invite abstracts for 20 minute papers from graduate and advanced undergraduate students on topics relating to the Middle Ages, including topics relating to Late Antiquity and the early Renaissance. Papers should be in English and will be followed by 10 minutes for discussion. This year’s topic and keynote presentations center around issues of law, land and literature, but submissions on all topics of medieval interest are encouraged. Please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words to by January 31, 2018 for consideration.

Thank you,

The GAMS Executive Council

2018 Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters, Medieval Studies Section

Friday March 9, 2018
Central Michigan University

Keynote:  Larry Simon, History, Western Michigan University

The Medieval Studies section of the Michigan Academy invites you to submit a paper proposal for the upcoming annual conference. The Medieval Studies section focuses on bringing together Michigan scholars and graduate students of the Middle Ages to share research, discuss programs, and build friendships. This year, in addition to our keynote lecture we are planning a pedagogy panel to focus on current methods and challenges of teaching medieval courses, a panel devoted to graduate student research, and open topic panels to share research and interests. We encourage a broad view of Medieval Studies that extends from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and disciples including art history, literature, languages, philosophy, religion and science.

To submit a paper proposal please visit and select the “Medieval Studies” section. The deadline for sub-missions is December 8, 2017.

De Canciones y Cancioneros: Music and Literary Sources of the Luso-Hispanic Song Tradition

Princeton University, April 7-8, 2018

A conference organized by Ireri Chávez-Bárcenas (Music) and Sophia Blea Nuñez (Spanish and Portuguese) with the generous support from the Princeton Program in Latin American Studies.

This conference brings together musical, literary and cultural historians from the US, Latin America, and Europe that are interested in exploring various aspects of the early song tradition in the Hispanic World. It seeks to investigate the varied intersections of literary and musical sources of the Iberian song in the vast Spanish empire—from early poetic anthologies and songbooks, to villancicos’ manuscripts, chapbooks, printed vihuela and guitar tutor books, Iberian songs in manuscripts and printed collections of neighboring countries, early anthologies, catalogues and library collections, music and poetic treatises, and songs in dramas, novels and other literary genres by authors such as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Góngora or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

This conference also hopes to bring attention to early manifestations of musical globalization with discussions that reveal the circulation and transmission of Iberian musicoliterary genres in the Spanish empire, including Portugal, Europe, the New World, and Asia, as well as other cultural exchanges facilitated by diplomats in the service of the Spanish and Austrian branches of the Habsburgs. Other topics of interest relate to issues of race, religion, gender, and identity.

In celebration of the eight first editions of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz recently donated to Firestone Library, the conference will include a discussion panel on Villancicos and Sor Juana, and the participation of Early Music Princeton.

Keynote Speaker: Tess Knighton (ICREA, Spain)

Special Guests: Martha Lilia Tenorio (El Colegio de México, Mexico) and Álvaro Torrente (Universidad Complutense, Spain)

Concert by: Eduardo Egüez and Nell Snaidas, with the participation of Early Music Princeton

More information at

2018 EMC conference: Exploring Resistance Through Medieval and Early Modern Culture

The Early Modern Colloquium at the University of Michigan invites abstracts for papers for their interdisciplinary graduate student conference, "Exploring Resistance through Medieval and Early Modern Culture,” at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, March 16-17, 2018. Keynote lectures by: Carla Della Gatta (USC) and Kathryn Schwarz (Vanderbilt)and panel responses from the medieval and early modern faculty at the University of Michigan.

Deadline for abstracts: December 31, 2017.

The challenge to resist structures of oppression both within and beyond the academy is particularly exigent in our current moment. From nearly unavoidable discussions of religion and totalitarian rule, medieval and early modern scholarship has a rich tradition of focusing on the restrictions a society can face and the resistance movements and revolts that result from circumscription. Enriching our discussions of religion, sovereignty, discourses, institutions, etc. more recent work has acknowledged the necessary inclusion of gender, sexuality, race, empire, class, and ethnicity. Kathryn Schwarz, for example, urges us to reconsider our thoughts on women’s willful participation in patriarchal agendas. For her, female conformity in the early modern period can function as a destabilizing and threatening force to ‘heterosocial hierarchy.’ Carla Della Gatta, with a keen interest in the cultural-linguistic divide, uses her training in early modern drama to analyze contemporary Latinx-themed Shakespearean productions. More, her work questions the security of the “ivory tower” and examines the effects of institutional reform and the current political climate on the Humanities and the teaching profession. Inspired by these scholars, we want to expand the dialogue on medieval and early modern forms of resistance. This year’s conference provides an occasion for us to think through the role of medieval and early modern humanities scholarship in wider resistance efforts. We will ask: What forms did resistance take in the medieval and early modern world? How can research on medieval and early modern topics broaden our understanding of resistance as a concept? How can it aid us in enacting resistance through our scholarship? How can thinking about artifacts, institutions, and representations from these periods help us engage more effectively in resistance today? What methods, spaces, and conceptual tools can help us resist, or understand resistance, through our work in medieval and early modern studies? We invite fifteen-minute presentations by graduate students in any discipline that engage productively with the concept of resistance. Relevant projects might address one or more of the following topics:

• Discourses and institutions
• Print, media, censorship
• Religion, conversion, heresy
• Art, literature, representation
• Law and criminality
• Nation, location, sovereignty
• State formation, jurisprudence
• Science, technology, natural law
• Sexuality, chastity
• Empire, race, slavery
• Revolution, reform
• Language and translation
• Pain, pleasure

This conference will also include a special session co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Drama Interest Group, "Performance Studies and Resistance." Abstracts for this session may:
• Examine sites of critical resistance in the intersections of medieval and early modern performance studies and performance studies more broadly.
• Map moments of resistance in and around medieval and early modern performances.
• Offer resistance to entrenched assumptions or practices in medieval and early modern performance studies.

Please submit 250-300 word abstracts papers to the Early Modern Colloquium (

2018 Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University

Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies
June 18-20, 2018
Saint Louis University
Saint Louis, Missouri

The Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies (June 18-20, 2018) is a convenient summer venue for scholars from around the world to present papers, organize sessions, participate in roundtables, and engage in interdisciplinary discussion. The goal of the Symposium is to promote serious scholarly investigation into all topics and in all disciplines of medieval and early modern studies.

The plenary speakers for this year will be Geoffrey Parker of The Ohio State University, and Carole Hillenbrand of the University of St Andrews.

The Symposium is held annually on the beautiful midtown campus of Saint Louis University. On-campus housing options include affordable, air-conditioned apartments as well as a luxurious boutique hotel. Inexpensive meal plans are available, and there is also a wealth of restaurants, bars, and cultural venues within easy walking distance of campus.

While attending the Symposium participants are free to use the Vatican Film Library, the Rare Book and Manuscripts Collection, and the general collection at Saint Louis University's Pius XII Memorial Library.

The Sixth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies invites proposals for papers, complete sessions, and roundtables. Any topics regarding the scholarly investigation of the medieval and early modern world are welcome. Papers are normally twenty minutes each and sessions are scheduled for ninety minutes. Scholarly organizations are especially encouraged to sponsor proposals for complete sessions.

The deadline for all submissions is December 31. Decisions will be made in January and the final program will be published in February.

For more information or to submit your proposal online go to:

The Past, Present and Future of Michigan's Archaeological Museums

The Past, Present, and Future of Michigan’s Archaeological Museums: a graduate and undergraduate student symposium sponsored by the Collaborative Archaeology Workgroup in conjunction with the bicentennial exhibition “Excavating Archaeology at the University of Michigan, 1817-2017.” The symposium will be held at the University of Michigan on December 8-9, 2017 with a keynote address by Lisa Çakmak (Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum and IPCAA alumna).

Museums and archaeology have had a long and complex history at the University of Michigan. Beginning from a mandate to collect and preserve artifacts of ancient cultures, they have since expanded to more involved and sometimes conflicting imperatives of exploring, excavating, educating, interpreting, and intervening in today’s world. These missions have become increasingly intertwined with issues of US and international politics, including: environmental awareness and custodianship, cultural heritage and ownership, and the increasingly complex uses and potentials of technology and information science.

As archaeology at the University of Michigan moves into its third century, this wide-ranging conference offers the opportunity to reflect on the past achievements as well as the shortcomings of archaeological museums at the University of Michigan along with the research currently being undertaken by our students and faculty both within the museums themselves and out in the field. Finally, contributions concerning possible visions of the future of archaeological museums, whether dealing with technology, display, or the objects and spaces themselves, offers a glimpse into what the next century of archaeology at Michigan may look like.

Graduate students from any field that interacts with archaeological materials and museums are invited to give 10-15 minute papers, while undergraduates are invited to present posters based on their current projects.  Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The future role of archaeological museums
  • Archaeological museums and local communities
  • The present and future of technology and archaeology
  • Connections between current fieldwork and museums
  • The analysis and preservation of current archaeological collections
  • Archaeological museums and the academic environment
  • The history of Michigan archaeology
  • The future of archaeological display
  • Ethical concerns in the present and future of archaeological museums

Please submit a 300-word (maximum) abstract for your paper or poster to by October 15, 2017. For any further questions about the conference, topics, or presentations, please contact either Matt Naglak ( or Kimi Swisher ( ).

2018 Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies

The 17th Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies is currently seeking paper abstracts on any topic related to the Middle Ages. The conference will take place from March 22nd-24th, 2018 at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

Vagantes is North America’s largest graduate-student conference for medieval studies. Since its founding in 2002, Vagantes has nurtured a lively community of junior scholars from across all disciplines. The 17th Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies will feature thirty graduate-student papers and three distinguished keynote speakers. Out of consideration for graduate students' budgets, Vagantes never charges a registration fee. The organizers of Vagantes believe that a diverse and inclusive view of the medieval period is essential. As such, graduate students in all disciplines are invited to submit paper abstracts of no more than 300 words on any topic relating to the Middle Ages.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 3rd, 2017. More information about the conference can be found on the attached PDF. The online CFP is live and accessible here -

Questions? Contact the organizers at

Panels for 2018 Kalamazoo International Congress

History and Poetics (with Suzanne Akbari)

Sponsored by the Harvard English Department Medieval Colloquium

This panel focuses on medieval conceptions of time, history, and memory. As literary historians, we frequently encounter the challenges of periodization: how to establish the autonomous significance of the Middle Ages, as well as think beyond the limits of stage-oriented historiography. Yet how did medieval chroniclers, poets, artists, and travelers view the historical process and their place within it? What “pasts” did they recover, and what forms of representation were used to remember, rehearse or reimagine them? Are there distinctions drawn between history and memory—between notionally universal, stable, and textual forms of record, and personal, bodily, and mutable ones? Finally, how might revisiting medieval forms of temporal awareness revise those critical practices that we broadly call “historicist,” perhaps widening our approach to formal or theoretical engagements? We welcome submissions that consider, from any angle, the poetics and politics of representing medieval time.

Nota bene: This is a blind review panel. Suzanne Akbari has agreed to present a paper, but a committee will select the other papers by a double blind review of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts from graduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged. All questions, abstract submissions, and required information should be sent to Stella Wang at by the congress deadline (September 15).

Literary Personae, Translating Identity (with Leslie Lockett)

Sponsored by the Harvard English Department Medieval Colloquium

Literary personae often operate as sites of negotiation between historical identity and literary or intellectual-historical traditions. Personae such as the didactic interlocutor, the dreamer, the lamenting lyric speaker, or the scop reoccur in certain medieval genres; these figures, however, are also often marked by particular cultural or biographical features, differentiating them from others in the tradition. This panel welcomes papers that discuss literary personae in Anglo-Saxon England from any angle, but which might respond to one or several of the following questions. What types of performance are involved in the assumption of literary personae? What kinds of historical features often mark personae, and how might they come into competition or conflict with more universalized archetypes? How do modified personae in translated works reflect historical, geographical, and social differences, and how do these changes perform interpretive work in the texts they purport to authorize? This is intended primarily as an Old English panel, but if you work on very similar issues in the later part of the Middle Ages, we are happy to consider your submission.

Nota bene: This is a blind review panel. Leslie Lockett has agreed to present a paper, but a committee will select the other papers by a double blind review of the submitted abstracts. Abstracts from graduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged. All questions, abstract submissions, and required information should be sent to Stella Wang at by the congress deadline (September 15).