Call for Papers – Rewiring Romans. Medieval Liturgies as Tools for Transformation

Call for papers:

Rewiring Romans. Medieval liturgies as tools for transformation

Workshop, 15-17 June 2017, The Norwegian Institute in Rome

Liturgies are multisensory reconstructions of narratives. Enacted in highly structured architectural spaces, supported by visual representations, by sounds, smell, touch, and movement, medieval liturgies created and sustained a repertoire of narratives, reframing identities and social meanings. These multimodal forms of social communication tap into powerful structuring processes in human cognition, redefining the boundaries between self and other and reorganizing the hierarchy of values. Participatory multimodal enactments of narrative dramas, defining new goals, obstacles, resources, and strategies, communicate a collective vision that not only informs, but transforms.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars studying individual and collective identity formation within texts, material culture, and performative liturgies in the middle ages with researchers from cognitive science and visual communication to build a new integrated framework for understanding social change and the multimodal communicative tools developed to foster such change. We ask, how did the liturgy change people? What were the underlying principles for its design? What can we learn about the cognitive and cultural processes involved in social change from liturgical practices and its underlying theories?

In early and high medieval societies, the locus of transformation was the liturgical event and its multimodal registers in the form of surrounding pictorial and architectural structures, chants, correlated sermons and preaching, and their informing theoretical framework expressed in the liturgical commentaries. The ritual spaces provide a stage – both internal and external – in which new identities could be enacted. The liturgy was by far the most high-tech as well as the most pervasive of all communication forms in the Latin West. The liturgy engaged rich and poor, clerical and lay, military and ecclesiastical, male and female, urban and rural, literate and illiterate (Heffernan & Matter 2001:4). It was a ‘structuring force’ for medieval communities (Le Goff, 2003:30), the ‘social glue’ that held a political and social entity together (Romano 2014:6). It was also highly flexible, continually adapting to changing circumstances (Boynton 2006). Despite scholarly intuitions about the pervasive force of the liturgy, a concrete understanding of the actual processes at work — its textual, auditive, visual, gestural, kinaesthetic, and experiential dimensions — still await critical elucidation. Additionally, scholars have taken an interest in the material culture of performative devotion, dedicating attention to the role of artefact in their ritual settings and emphasizing the role of images – immaterial and material – in medieval cognition and culture (Carruthers 1998). Some of the most recent work has opened up to the topic of liturgical multimodality (Palazzo 2014; Jørgensen, Laugerud & Skinnebach 2015); we wish to broaden this scholarship to encompass interactions with social and cognitive processes. Like social media today, liturgical rituals were a pervasive aspect of medieval life, performative, multisensory, and immersive. They were performed in dedicated spaces designed to facilitate collective transcendence, providing material anchors for new identities in the form of paintings and statues of the saints — new role models for a new society.

Emphasizing the need for cross-cutting insights into overarching themes, synthesizing the unique individual perspective from different subdisciplines into a shared and unified vision, we invite scholars from a broad range of disciplines — including history, religion, literature, anthropology, art history, musicology, and theology– to contribute their perspectives on the transformative potential of sensory experience and the tools developed and refined to shape new narratives and identities in post-Roman and medieval Europe.

Central questions for the workshop are:

  • What were the social and cognitive processes involved in religious ritual, such as imaginative immersion, deictic displacements, and elements of play and performance?
  • What were the underlying principles and theories for the design of the liturgy, especially medieval theories of cognition, rhetoric, and the senses that structured visual representations and liturgical performances?
  • What is the illocutionary force of liturgies: What makes a performance valid? How could the liturgy breach the boundaries between heaven and earth, here and now and there and then?
  • How did the changing designs of ritual spaces and practices have impact on society in relation to political legitimacy, creation of social unity, etc.?
  • What were the mechanisms of the liturgical influence out of Rome / into Rome in the medieval period?
  • What can we learn about how medieval liturgies spread and developed in the middle ages from perspectives of connectivity, socio-spatial networks, social network analysis, (SNA) and distributed cognition?
  • How did medieval liturgies work to transform people’s self-defining goals, obstacles, strategies, and resources, i.e., their framing narratives?
  • Can we tease out from our limited sources bottom-up perspectives on social change, in contrast to more common top-down perspectives?

We invite abstracts (up to 250 words) and a brief bio (up to 100 words). Presentation format is 20 minutes with 10 minutes Q&A. Please send abstract and bio to:

Workshop language: English
Deadline for submitting abstracts: 15 March 2017
Workshop dates: 15-17 June 2017
Venue: Norwegian Institute in Rome, Viale XXX Aprile 33, 00153 Rome, Italy



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Call for Papers – Mobility and Space in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Mobility and Space in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
23-24 June 2017, Radcliffe Humanities Building – University of Oxford
Organisers: Luca Zenobi (New) and Pablo Gonzalez Martin (Wadham)
Keynote speakers: Rosa Salzberg (Warwick) and Mario Damen (Amsterdam)

The application of spatial paradigms to the study of late medieval and early modern societies is now well underway. In contrast, the so-called ‘mobility turn’ has struggled to find its way from the social sciences to the humanities and particularly to disciplines concerned with the study of the past. This conference proposes to bring the two together by exploring how everyday mobility contributed to the shaping of late medieval and early modern spaces, and how spatial frameworks affected the movement of people in pre-modern Europe.

In focusing on these issues, the conference also intends to relate to current social challenges. The world is now more mobile than ever, yet it is often argued that more spatial boundaries exist today than ever before. The conference hopes to reflect on this contemporary paradox by exploring the long-term history of the tension between the dynamism of communities, groups and individuals, and the human construction of places and boundaries.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit proposals of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers. Papers may engage with questions of mobility and space at a variety of levels (regional, urban, domestic) and interdisciplinary approaches are particularly encouraged.

Potential sub-topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Performing space through movement (urban processions, revolts on the move, border patrols & frontier trespassing)
  • Mobile practices in public spaces (itinerant courts & diplomatic exchanges, periodic markets & temporary fairs, travelling performances)
  • Narrating movement, imagining space (pilgrimage guides, merchant itineraries travel diaries, maps & portraits)
  • Digital scholarship in exploring the intersections between mobility and space (network analysis, flow modelling, GIS-based research)

We plan to edit a volume which will include selected papers from the conference.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we may also be able to provide some travel bursaries to PhDs and ECRs not in receipt of institutional support.

Please send your proposal and a brief bio by 1 February 2017 to & and tweet us using the hashtag #mobilityandspace.

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Call for Papers – Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250

Following on from the Law and Language Colloquium in 2015 and the Law and Ritual Colloquium in 2016, the final Colloquium in the Voices of Law series, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, will be Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250. This conference aims to draw together scholars working on various geographical areas to identify points of similarity and contrast in language, text and legal practice.

Schwabenspiegel Detail –

Keynote Speaker: Prof. Robin Chapman Stacey

Law and Legal Agreements 600-1250

The making of legal agreements opens a window onto various aspects of the medieval world, from trade to marriage to the treatment of ‘outsiders’, and this conference aims to chart the development of these agreements from the period c.600 to c.1250.

Papers covering the following strands are encouraged, but not limited to:

  • Agreement and Disagreement –including aspects of judgments and arbitration; conflict resolution; the material and visual culture of legal disputes; violence
  • Inheritance, Kinship and Marriage –including topics on dower and dowry; family relationships defined through legal action; divorce and annulment of marriage; fostering and the process of adoption; wardship and inheritance, including will making
  • Status, ‘Others’ and Gender – including free and unfree; female agency; queer cases before the courts; sexual deviancy and the intersectionality of status and gender in the making of legal agreements. This strand can also consider the legal status of aliens and strangers; exclusion, expulsion and displacement; and issues surrounding community and identity, including different faith identities and heretical identities in secular and canon law
  • The Spoken vs the Written Word – including performance; witnesses and jurors; the use of liturgy and religious texts; satire
  • Written versus Material Evidence – including the materiality of legal spaces; archaeology and architecture; the interaction between written and material evidence

Email abstracts of no more than 300 words to by no later than 17:00 Wednesday 15 February 2017. Abstracts and papers must be in English. Registration and bursary application forms will be available to download from the Events page of the Voices of Law website at, and are also available on request – just email to request a form, and find out more.

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Harvard University Visiting Scholars Program

Each semester, the Committee on Medieval Studies appoints a small number of Visiting Scholars for terms ranging from three to six months. Visiting Scholars may work in any field dealing with some aspect of medieval society, religion, or culture in Europe, Africa, or Eurasia, and are welcomed as full members of Harvard’s rich intellectual and social community. These are unpaid research positions; however, Visiting Scholars enjoy full access to Harvard libraries and many other university facilities, an email account, and shared office space during the period of their appointment. They are expected to be engaged in research projects that draw upon Harvard’s manuscript, library, and other resources; to remain in residence in the Cambridge/Boston area during their appointment; to participate fully in the seminars, colloquia, and other activities of the Committee on Medieval Studies; and to share the results of their research in a seminar or other public venue. All applicants must have received the Ph.D., or equivalent terminal degree in their field, before the date on which they plan to begin their term as visiting scholars at Harvard.

Applications for appointment in Fall 2017 are due Friday, 10 February 2017. For more information on the Visiting Scholar program, including complete application instructions and forms, please visit the Medieval Studies website.

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Take Action to #SaveTheNEH

News broke this morning that the in-coming Trump Administration is considering the elimination of NEH, along with other cultural agencies!

While we are all concerned, it is important to remember that we have built considerable support in Congress over the past years and we can fight this proposal.

It is time to take action and make clear to the President-Elect and Members of Congress that you value federal funding for the humanities!

Click here to take action.

Together, we will communicate that public support for the humanities benefits students, teachers, and communities across the country!

Learn more about this blueprint and plans to stop it here.

Thank you for your support!

-The National Humanities Alliance

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2017 MAA Election Results

I am very pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Medieval Academy election:

President: Margot E. Fassler (Music History and Liturgy, Univ. of Notre Dame)
1st Vice-President: David Wallace (English and Comparative Literature, Univ. of Pennsylvania)
2nd Vice-President: Ruth Mazo Karras (History, Univ. of Minnesota)

Councillors (2017 – 2020):
Suzanne Conklin Akbari (English, Univ. of Toronto)
Michael Bailey (History, Iowa State Univ.)
Sara Lipton (History/Judaic Studies, SUNY Stony Brook)
Therese Martin (Art History, Spanish National Research Council)

Nominating Committee (2017 – 2019):
Bernice Kaczynski (History, McMaster Univ.)
Susan Kramer (History, Independent Scholar)

A total of 761 votes were cast in this election, more than in the past several years. My thanks to all who voted and to all who stood for election, and my congratulations to all who were elected.

Lisa Fagin Davis
Executive Director, Medieval Academy of America

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Call for Papers – Approaches to Late Medieval Court Records

Approaches to Late Medieval Court Records

Workshop Durham University 30th June 2017

Records of crime and disputes offer us some of the most intriguing insights into the premodern past. As one of the few types of source material which purports to record the actual speech and behaviour of individuals, they can seem to speak to us directly from the page – an illusion which sparked fascination with early microhistorical classics such as Montaillou, but which has subsequently prompted the emergence of a more cautious historiography engaged with their methodological challenges. Over the last thirty years a newer body of work has continued to demonstrate the enormous potential of court records for numerous avenues of enquiry, whether into practices of memory, gender, subjectivity, emotion, vengeance, feuding, honour, the history of legal institutions, and others.

This workshop invites proposals from scholars at any stage of their career working on all aspects of late medieval court records, whether secular or ecclesiastical, with an interest in methodological issues pertaining to them. Questions we seek to pursue include: how do we define and access the truths or realities presented through records of disputes and crime? How did contemporaries use these documents to interact with each other, to create truths and to shape the reality of the world around them? And how should historians approach the images they present us with?

This day-long workshop will bring together participants to discuss pre-circulated drafts of papers and to reflect upon the issues raised above, as well as other questions which arise during the event. Papers submitted prior to the event need be no longer than 5000 words, and need not be in a final version. Participants will later be invited to submit their work to the organisers as part of an edited collection to be proposed for Amsterdam University Press’s series, Premodern Crime and Punishment. There will also be opportunities outside the workshop to take part in visits to areas of historic interest in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Durham Castle and Cathedral.

Some funding will be available to support travel and accommodation costs, for which participants are encouraged to get in contact with the organisers.

Please send responses no later than 30th March to:

Frans Camphuijsen

Jamie Page

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David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Travel Grants

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University is now accepting applications for our 2017-2018 research travel grants:

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, the History of Medicine Collections, and the Human Rights Archive will each award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library.

Anyone who wishes to use materials from the designated collections for historical research is eligible to apply, regardless of academic status. Writers, creative and performing artists, film makers and journalists are welcome to apply for the research travel grants. Research Travel Grants support projects that present creative approaches, including historical research and documentation projects resulting in dissertations, publications, exhibitions, educational initiatives, documentary films, or other multimedia products and artistic works. All applicants must reside beyond a 100-mile radius of Durham, N.C., and may not currently be a student or employee of Duke University

Grant money may be used for: transportation expenses (including air, train or bus ticket charges; car rental; mileage using a personal vehicle; parking fees); accommodations; and meals. Expenses will be reimbursed once the grant recipient has completed his or her research visit(s) and has submitted original receipts.

The deadline for application is January 31, 2017 by 5:00 PM EST. Recipients will be announced in March 2017. Grants must be used between April 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

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Call for Papers – Lisbon Medieval Culture and War


Spaces, Images, Mentalities
22–24 June 2017
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa

War shaped the medieval world. It configured all kinds of social models and human processes, including political and economic systems, religious doctrines, cultural transformations and changes of mindsets.

Following a previous meeting held at the University of Leeds in 2016 (Leeds Medieval Culture and War: Ideals, Representations, Realities), this conference, organised by the Centre of History of the University of Lisbon, will pursue the development of new approaches to medieval warfare by discussing spaces, images and mentalities in interdisciplinary perspectives.

We warmly welcome papers that draw on several theoretical backgrounds (e.g. archaeological, art historical, historical, literary or sociological methodologies). Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Theory and doctrine of war
  • Strategy and tactics
  • Organisation, command and logistics
  • Fortifications and weaponry
  • Communication, intelligence and counterintelligence
  • Bellatores in medieval societies
  • Non-combatants and prisoners of war
  • Literature, art and war
  • Warfare and religion
  • Body and soul: the warriors’ assistance
  • Superstitions, devotions, fears and behaviours
  • War at sea

The conference will be held at the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa). On the third day participants are invited to join us for a visit to a museum with a medieval military collection. There will be a registration fee of €25.

Please submit a 300 word abstract for a paper of 20–25 minutes along with a short biographical note of about 150 words, or a joint proposal for a thematic panel of 3 papers, to by 3 March 2017. The papers will be selected by an independent Scientific Committee, through a blind review. Contributions from postgraduates and early career researchers are especially encouraged.

The working language is English.

The organisers plan to publish selected papers presented during the conference in a peer-reviewed edited collection.

Lisbon Organisation Committee:   Inês Meira Araújo and António Martins Costa

Leeds Organisation Committee:    Sophie Harwood, Trevor Russell Smith and Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis

Coordinator:  José Varandas

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MAA Blog – Centennial Survey

The Centennial Committee continues its work. Over the last few months we have consulted members of the committees of the Academy and the staff in the office in Cambridge who are working hard to help all of us. Now it is time for all members of the Academy to express their opinions about what the second century of our organization should bring.

The Centennial Committee is planning for the commemoration of the many accomplishments of the Academy in its first 100 years. It is also looking ahead to what new directions we might take to promote, expand, extend, improve, and solidify medieval studies within institutions and the wider world in the future. To help us in our deliberations we are asking all of you to tell us what you think. The Centennial Survey asks questions about what the Academy does now, how it helps you, and what it might do in the future. There are many straightforward questions which require simply checking a box but also a number of opportunities for you to offer more extended opinions about the way the organization functions now and what you would like to see it do. The survey should take you no more than a comfortable fifteen minutes to complete and it is completely anonymous.

Your thoughts and opinion are much valued. The greater the number of members who complete the survey the higher the quality of results and the better our ability to direct the ship to the right course for the future. The survey is one way for us to find out what you think. Another way to help us is for you to write directly at our devoted e-mail address: The work of our committee and of the Academy will only be made better by what you tell us. By participating in the survey you also will be eligible to win a free year of membership in the Academy.

Click here to complete the survey, or use this URL:

Thank you very much for your help.

Richard W. Unger
Chair, Centennial Committee

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