Call for Papers – The Material Culture of Religious Change and Continuity, 1400-1600

The Material Culture of Religious Change and Continuity, 1400-1600

11-12 April 2017 at the University of Huddersfield, UK

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the Wittenberg Church. From that date, religion in Europe had profound changes. One such change was how people viewed, interacted and created visual and material objects related to religious devotion. This conference aims to bring together medievalists and early modernists approaching religion on either side of the Reformation through a visual and/or material examination.

By bringing together scholars from different disciplines, curators and heritage sector representatives it is hoped that a more holistic discussion of visual and material objects will come to light. Topics for papers may include but are certainly not restricted to:

  • Commemoration of the dead
  • Household or individual devotion
  • Accessories of devotion (e.g. crucifixes, clothing, jewellery, books, etc.)
  • Books, manuscripts and paintings as religious objects
  • Religious space, architecture, landscape
  • The destruction or salvage of religious iconography
  • Change/continuity of religious objects
  • Region, national, or international comparisons of material culture through different disciplines: art history, archaeology, architecture, literature, history, etc.
  • (Un)Gendered objects
  • Intercessory objects (e.g. Books of Hours, Bibles, rosaries, relics, etc.)
  • Religious objects from the New World; colonial territories; religious missions

Please send a short abstract (c. 200-300 words) to Audrey Thorstad ( no later than 15 July 2016.

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MAA News – From the President: Approaching the Centenary

carmelaIn 1925, the Medieval Academy of America (including both Canada and the United States) and its journal

Speculum were founded in Cambridge, Mass.  In 2025 we will mark the centenary of the founding of our professional organization. These festivities will provide us with an opportunity to celebrate one century of work by the MAA and its members to carry out the mission set by our founders “to conduct, encourage, promote and support research, publication and instruction in Mediaeval records, literature, languages, arts, archaeology, history, philosophy, science, life, and all other aspects of Mediaeval civilization, by publications, by research, and by such other means as may be desirable, and to hold property for such purpose.” [Extract from the Articles of Organization, 23 December 1925.]

Our centenary offers an opportunity to consider both the past and the current state of medieval studies in North America.  Just as important, however, is  to make this an opportunity to re-examine our mission and goals, as they were defined almost one hundred years ago, as we look to the future. A Centenary Planning Committee is being set up, following the decision of the Council meeting in Boston last February, “to consider our role in North American medieval studies and strategize the best ways we can serve our members and promote the study of the Middle Ages as we move into our second century. …   After three years of deliberations, which will include online surveys and other ways of broadly canvassing members, [the Centenary Planning Committee] will present its vision statement and long-range plan for adoption at the 2019 annual meeting.”

To help the long-range planning of the Centennial Committee, I would like to single out two particular tasks which I plan to pursue while I serve as President of the MAA. One is to pay close attention to our new management organization, to evaluate it and to help guide it through any adjustments which need to be made as we gain experience in this new model we have now inaugurated. Until recently, the MAA employed one executive officer, who fulfilled the separate roles of Executive Director of the MAA and also Editor of Speculum. Our institution has grown tremendously in recent decades, not only in numbers but in complexity, and it became clear some time ago that the duties of both areas of responsibility could not be carried out by only one individual, working full time. We now have completely separate areas of responsibilities assigned to our Executive Director (Lisa Fagin Davis) and to the Editor of Speculum and Director of Publications (Sarah Spence).  Each of them reports directly to the Council, or its representatives (the presidential officers; the Executive Committee of the Council). This is a management model which has been long adopted by scholarly associations similar to the MAA, such as the Renaissance Society of America, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Classical Studies.  I see the task of evaluating our management structure as a continuing one, which will naturally be taken up  by the next two presidents, the current Vice-President Margot Fassler, and the current Second Vice-President David Wallace, as they are already engaged in this work in their current positions. In fact, my own interest in the structure of the governance of the MAA was aroused when then President Barbara Newman asked me to chair an ad hoc committee to develop a set of guidelines for the hiring of the Executive Director of the MAA and of the Editor of Speculum and Director of Publications. We had no guidelines in place which would have guided the elected officers in the case of a vacancy.

This is also an appropriate time to look at our committees, the means by which so much of the work of the MAA is carried out by its members, who serve as volunteers. These committees have grown in number, as our activities have grown.  We now have just added a new standing Committee on K-12 Education, which institutionalizes the MAA’s  recent efforts, and particularly the concern of past-President Barbara Newman,  to improve the study of the Middle Ages in pre-college educational settings. Many other committees have been in place for decades. We need to make sure that all our committees have clearly defined tasks reflecting the mission of the MAA, that they have clear guidelines which will be followed in their deliberations, and that they represent the diversity of the fields and of the membership of the MAA. We have also expanded our prize and grant offerings, with the addition of the Constable Awards and a Digital Humanities Prize. Additional projects in the realm of digital humanities are in the works.

Most importantly, as we assess the way we manage our institution, I would like to encourage as broad a participation in the governance of our Academy as possible, in which all members will feel fully engaged so as to contribute their energy and their vision to the work of our scholarly institution. I would like the MAA to remove any obstacle, no matter how trivial, which might restrict full membership participation in our governance. Those of you who were at the Boston meeting this past February will know that we changed the context in which the business meeting takes place, separating it from lunch, to make it easier for all to take part. This was a deliberate decision after it became clear that many members were not attending the business meeting because of the cost of the lunch, or because of the time commitment that a long sit down lunch followed by a meeting required.

Despite the founders’ hope, the study of the Middle Ages appears to some practitioners ever more uncertain in American and Canadian universities, where increasingly fewer medievalists are found in humanities’ departments. Yet, the interdisciplinary MAA is flourishing, and the fields and disciplines represented amongst its members continue to grow. Our work in preparation of the centennial celebration will provide crucial information to guide us to undertake any new steps to ensure that our second centenary will be even more successful than our first.

– Carmela Vircillo Franklin

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MAA News – 2017 Call for Papers

univtorontoThe 92nd Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America will be held in Toronto, Ontario, on 6-8 April 2017, hosted by the University of Toronto and The Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies.

The Organizing Committee invites proposals for papers on all topics and in all disciplines and periods of medieval studies. Any member of the Medieval Academy may submit a paper proposal, excepting those who presented papers at the annual meetings of the Medieval Academy in 2015 or 2016; others may submit proposals as well but must become members in order to present papers at the meeting. Special consideration will be given to individuals whose field would not normally involve membership in the Medieval Academy. The due date for proposals is 15 June 2016.

Rather than an overarching theme, the 2017 meeting will provide a variety of thematic connections among sessions. The Medieval Academy welcomes innovative sessions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries or that use various disciplinary approaches to examine an individual topic. To both facilitate and emphasize interdisciplinarity, the Call for Papers is organized in “threads.” Sessions listed under these threads have been proposed to or by the Organizing Committee but the list provided in the Call for Papers is not meant to be exhaustive or exclusive.

The complete Call for Papers, with proposed threads and sessions as well as instructions for submitting proposals, can be found here:

Please contact the organizing committee if you have further questions about the meeting, at

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MAA News – MAA@Kalamazoo

Preparing chocolate for the MAA's KZOO Table

Preparing chocolate for the MAA’s KZOO Table

As always, the Medieval Academy of America will have a strong presence at the 2016 International Congress on Medieval Studies  (May 12-15).

1) The Friday morning plenary, sponsored by the Academy, will be delivered by Jane Chance (Rice Univ.). Her topic will be “How We Read J. R. R. Tolkien Reading Grendel’s Mother” (Friday, 8:30 AM, Bernhard, East Ballroom). Two related sessions on the topic of “How We Read” will take place on Friday at 10 AM (Session 215) and 1:30 PM (Session 267). Both sessions will be in Bernhard 158.

2) On Thursday at 3:30 PM, the Graduate Student Committee is sponsoring a roundtable titled “The Modern Grail: Insider Tips from Search Committees to Land That Academic Job” (Session 100, Valley 1, Hadley 101). The GSC reception will take place immediately afterwards, in Fetzer 1055.

3) The Committee on Centers and Regional Associations (CARA) is sponsoring two panels this year. The first, “Addressing Career Diversity for Medievalists,” will take place on Thursday at 10 AM (Session 5, Valley 1, Hadley 102). The second, “Reflections on the Medieval Mediterranean NEH Summer Institutes,” will take place on Thursday at 3:30 (Session 125, Schneider 1280).

4) The annual CARA Luncheon will take place on Friday at noon (Bernhard, President’s Dining Room). If you would like to attend as a representative of your program or institution, please register online. There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required. All are welcome!

5) Finally, we invite you to stop by our staffed table in the exhibit hall to introduce yourself, transact any Medieval Academy business you may have, or pick up some chocolate to keep you going during those long afternoon sessions.

See you at the ‘Zoo!

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MAA News – Congratulations to our Members

We offer our congratulations to these Medieval Academy members:

– David Nirenberg (Univ. of Chicago) and Ralph Hexter (Univ. of California, Davis), who have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;

– Hussein Fancy (Univ. of Michigan) and John Lansdowne (Princeton Univ.), who have each been awarded a Rome Prize in Medieval Studies from the American Academy in Rome;

– Margaret Gaida (University of Oklahoma) and Jacob Hobson (Univ. of California, Berkeley), who have each been awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

The International John Gower Society has awarded the 2016 John Hurt Fisher Prize for a “significant contribution to the field of John Gower Studies” to Sebastian Sobecki for his Speculum essay on Gower’s autograph hand and the Trentham manuscript (Speculum 90/4, pp. 925-959).

Please send any such announcements to the Executive Director  for inclusion in upcoming issues of Medieval Academy News.

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MAA News – Medieval Academy Books, vol. 115

MAB115The Medieval Academy of America is proud to announce the publication of Medieval Academy Books, vol. 115: William D. Paden, Two medieval Occitan Toll Registers from Tarascon (Univ. of Toronto Press, 2016).

Two Medieval Toll Registers from Tarascon presents an edition, translation, and discussion of two vernacular toll registers from fourteenth and fifteenth-century Provence. These two registers are a valuable new source for the economic, linguistic, and transportation history of medieval France, offering a window onto the commercial life of Tarascon, a fortified town on the east bank of the Rhône between Avignon and Arles. In this volume, William D. Paden discusses the developing fiscal policy of the counts of Provence, for whom the tolls were collected, and the practice and vocabulary of medieval toll-keeping. An afterword considers the toll registers in relation to the poetry of troubadours, arguing that the realism of the registers and the idealism of troubadour poetry overlapped in the world of medieval Tarascon.

Since 1926, the Medieval Academy of America has published monographs in the Medieval Academy Books series. For Medieval Academy Books volumes 1-105 (and other series), see our publications page. Most books published by the Academy are available in at least one of the following formats: hardcopy first-edition (through the Medieval Academy’s online bookstore); print-on-demand at; open-access PDF or HTML on the Academy website; or through the subscription-based ACLS Humanities e-Book Library. Vols. 106-115 are published and sold in partnership with the University of Toronto Press; those volumes are available on the UTP website.

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European Studies Undergraduate Paper Prize 2016

The European Studies Undergraduate Paper Prize is designed to encourage interest in the field of European Studies by rewarding talented undergraduates who have conducted original research in the field. Thus, the European Studies Undergraduate Paper Prize is given for the best advanced research paper written in English on any subject in European Studies as part of an undergraduate university degree program.

Two prizes will be awarded in 2016, one for a paper in the Humanities and one for a paper in the Social Sciences. A multi-disciplinary selection committee appointed by the Council’s Executive Committee will choose the winners. Each prize winner will receive a check for $500, along with public recognition in the European Studies Newsletter and on the Council’s social media sites. In addition, those prize winners who are interested in attending the CES conference may request one conference registration waiver for any conference in the three years following their award.

Each nominated article must meet the following criteria:

  • be a paper written by an undergraduate student in the field of European Studies;
  • be written in English;
  • be the work of one author only;
  • be authored by a student of an institution that is a member of the CES Academic Consortium.

Nominations may be submitted by the author, an admiring faculty member or fellow student, and must be accompanied by a nomination form and digital copy of the nominated paper.  (Papers should be directly attached to the nomination form.)  Paper submissions will not be accepted.




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Call for Sessions: Mary Jaharis Center Sponsored Panel, 4th Forum Medieval Art

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture seeks proposals for a Mary Jaharis Center sponsored session at the 4th Forum Medieval Art, Berlin and Brandenburg, September 20–23, 2017. The biannual colloquium is organized by the Deutsche Verein für Kunstwissenschaft e.V.

The theme for the 4th Forum Medieval Art is 360° – Places, Boundaries, Global Perspectives. It will focus on research at the geographical and methodological boundaries of classical medieval studies. The various venues in Berlin and Brandenburg with their medieval heritage and their rich collections of Byzantine and Middle Eastern will be taken as a starting point. Accordingly, the conference will highlight the interaction of Central European medieval art and artistic production with other regions ranging from Eastern Europe, Byzantium, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean to the British Isles and the Baltic region. Thus research areas such as Byzantine Studies or Islamic Art History will be brought into the focus and consciousness of medieval studies, particularly in the context of the endangered artistic and architectural monuments of the Middle East. Especially welcome are topics discussing phenomena such as migration, media transformation and changing cultural paradigms. By asking for culturally formative regions at the borders of “Europe” and transcultural contact zones, definitions of the Middle Ages can be put up for debate. As a counterpart to this panorama, research about the region of Brandenburg and Berlin will also be presented. This includes subjects of museum studies and the history of art of and in Berlin, where the development of areas of cultural exchange has a long tradition.

We invite session proposals that fit within the 360° – Places, Boundaries, Global Perspectives theme and are relevant to Byzantine studies. Additional information about the Forum Medieval Art at

Session proposals must be submitted through the Mary Jaharis Center website ( The deadline for submission is May 9, 2016. Proposals should include:

*Session abstract (500 words)
*Proposed list of session participants (presenters and session chair)

Applicants will be notified of the status of their proposal by May 16, 2016. The organizer of the selected session is responsible for submitting the session proposal to the Forum by June 1, 2016.

If the proposed session is approved, the Mary Jaharis Center will reimburse session participants (presenters and chair) up to $300 maximum for residents of Germany, up to $600 maximum for EU residents, and up to $1200 maximum for those coming from outside Europe. Funding is through reimbursement only; advance funding cannot be provided. Eligible expenses include conference registration, transportation, and food and lodging. Receipts are required for reimbursement.

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Mary Jaharis Center Lecture Series: Worldliness in Byzantium and Beyond, May 4

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to announce the final lecture in its 2015–2016 lecture series.

On May 4, 2016, at 6:15 pm at the Harvard Faculty Club, Cecily J. Hilsdale (McGill University) will present “Worldliness in Byzantium and Beyond: Manuscript Materiality and Byzantine Materialism.” Professor Hilsdale will consider the complicated history of the tale of Barlaam and Ioasaph.

The lecture is co-sponsored by Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.

Please join us for a reception following the lecture.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016, at 6:15 pm
Harvard Faculty Club
20 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Please visit or contact Brandie Ratliff (, Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, for additional information.

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Call for Papers – PREMODERN ECOLOGIES: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Interaction with the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe


An Interdisciplinary Conference on
Human Interaction with the Natural World
in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
(October 20-22, 2016)

This conference addresses one of the most pressing issues in the history of Western Civilization: how did past human beings interact with, exploit, control, represent, and understand their natural environment? The question is of paramount importance well beyond the study of the premodern world. The global environmental and resource crisis caused (as most people now believe) by the greed and mismanagment of modern polities has been front-page news for more than a decade.  The debate surrounding the renaming of our current historical epoch as the “anthropocene,” the era in which “geologically significant conditions and processes are profoundly altered by human activities,” has given the premodern European past a renewed relevance as the possible place of origin for the attitudes and behaviors that have resulted in modern political and economic instability.  This conference will illuminate with greater clarity many of these issues.  We invite proposals for 20-minute papers and welcome methodological approaches ranging from environmental history to eco-criticism of literature and the arts.  Please email your 250-word paper proposal to Professor Scott G. Bruce (  The deadline for proposals is June 1, 2016.

The conference is hosted by the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CMEMS), with the support of the Center for Western Civilization (CWC), the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Departments of History and English.  Learn more about us at

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