Call for Papers – Ritual, Performance, and the Senses

Call for Papers:  Ritual, Performance, and the Senses
AVISTA Medieval Graduate Student Symposium
University of North Texas
March 23-24, 2017
Deadline for submission: February 1, 2017

The proliferation of images painted onto monumental structures, the illuminations of manuscripts, the intricacies of ivory carvings and the construction of architectural sculpture in the Medieval Period evince a highly visual culture. As such, medieval scholars have focused heavily on visual reception theory to ascertain the role of the visual within the fabric of medieval society.  Key to many studies is the pivotal role of rituals within the society, particularly in terms of how the medieval person would have absorbed their culture, namely the other senses. As performances would have involved not only the visual, but also the tactile, the aural, gustatory and olfactory, the combination of the sensory experience created a transitory environment within – or outside – the architectural structures that delineated the medieval world.

Ritual and the beginning of performative drama not only created a sensory experience but served to support pre-conceived societal distinctions. From the most exclusive performance, the mass, to the most public ritual, the intercity procession, rituals both enforced and challenged the social barriers of the time. As such, the development of rituals have a history all their own, from the most mundane acts of lay piety shown through blessings, to dramas focused on the lives of the saints and the life of Christ, to the most important feast days, and to the imperial rituals associated with the temporal sphere. Rituals were not confined only to the monastic or ecclesiastical environments, but permeated all segments of society.

The 2017 AVISTA medieval Graduate Student Symposium at the University of North Texas invites papers from all disciplines and all medieval eras on any topic, but preferences those that address topics of ritual, performance, or sensual experience. Such topics may include but are not limited to:

  • The interconnected use of the senses
  • Ritual history
  • The notion of Medieval Performance Art
  • Lay ritual/noble ritual
  • Manuscript as a performance
  • Sensual props, cues, and rubrications
  • Societal divisions created by rituals
  • Architecture as stage and backdrop
  • Processional routes/pilgrimages
  • Music and sensual stimulation
  • The archaeology of the senses
  • Landscape and topography of performance
  • The language of the senses
  • Sensual cosmology
  • Sensual dreprications

Send papers to: Dr. Mickey Abel (

Submission deadline: February 1, 2017

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