Call for Papers – International Conference “The Medieval Literary Canon in the Digital Age”

Call for Papers
International Conference “The Medieval Literary Canon in the Digital Age”

Ghent University, 17–18 September 2018

We invite submission of abstracts for the international conference “The Medieval Literary Canon in the Digital Age,” to be held at Ghent University from 17-18 September 2018.

An often repeated promise of the digital humanities, in the wake of the “computational turn,” is that the wide availability and accessibility of historical texts would enable scholars to breach the restrictions of a literary canon. The present international conference wishes to explore how exactly the digital humanities can provide such insights for medieval studies, in which such a promise raises critical questions.

(1) In spite of the computational turn, much of the digital scholarship for the Middle Ages still seems to hinge on well-conserved and therefore well-known theological and literary authorities, whose texts have been reproduced continuously in subsequent editions and translations. To what extent does today’s computational research manage to escape the straitjacket of the traditional canon?

(2) Considering that in the past decades, medieval scholars have become increasingly sensitive to the materiality of textual transmission in the Middle Ages, the virtual, normative and reductive character of a digital environment are not always compatible to their research interests.

As the emancipation of the digital humanities from their merely supportive role is proclaimed increasingly, and as the tools for digital medieval studies proliferate (e.g. digital scholarly editing, computational stylistics, digital palaeography, digital stemmatology, …), this conference welcomes papers —based on either case studies or broader research questions— that both problematize the specialized character of medieval literary production and demonstrate the potential for computational criticism to “breach” or “widen” the medieval canon through digital tools.

Full details on the topic and discussion of the conference are available on the conference website:​.

The conference, to which we will accept 8 scholars in addition to the confirmed speakers (cfr. infra) will consist exclusively of plenary sessions, with ample time for discussion. The conference committee encourages proposal submissions by both established and junior researchers. Please send abstracts (ca. 300 words) and a five line biography via email to Jeroen De Gussem ( by the ​10th of May. Participants will receive a notification concerning the acceptance of their application by the end of May.

We expect from our applicants that they have the ability of covering their own travel costs. Accepted speakers are offered lunches and an invitation to our conference dinner. Accepted speakers from abroad (any country other than Belgium) will also be offered up to 3 hotel nights in Ghent.

The following invited speakers have confirmed their participation: Godfried Croenen (University of Liverpool) / Maciej Eder (Pedagogical University of Kraków) / Julie Orlemanski (University of Chicago) / Peter Robinson (University of Saskatchewan) / Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam) / David J. Wrisley (New York University Abu Dhabi)​

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