Call for Papers: 9th Annual Symposium of the International Medieval Society

Dates: Thursday 28 – Saturday 30 June 2012
Location: Paris, France
Deadline for submissions: 15 January 2012
Keynote speakers: TBA

The International Medieval Society in Paris (IMS-Paris) is soliciting abstracts for individual papers and proposals for complete sessions for its 2012 symposium organized around the theme of human/animal in medieval France.

Animals – both real and fantastical – were frequently central to medieval culture, thought and artistic production. This symposium addresses a particular aspect of this centrality: the relationship between humans and animals and the way this was imagined, defined and re-defined across the historical and cultural spectrum of the Middle Ages. The distinction between human and animal that modern culture often takes for granted is far from clear-cut in medieval contexts and was subject to historical and cultural change. Historians have suggested that the concept of the animal and the extent to which it represented a form of life distinguishable from that of human beings underwent considerable alteration in the twelfth century. This may be seen in shifts in the terms used to describe animals; developments in the ways animals were represented in literature and art; and the evolution of key texts such as the Physiologus and its variants, the bestiaries. Within this context, the boundaries between humans and animals – which might be established through elements as diverse as the possession of language, a capacity for laughter, or legal responsibility – were subject to change and negotiation. The conference aims to interrogate the questions that the fluctuating relationship between human and animal in the Middle Ages raises from an historically inclusive, crossdisciplinary perspective by focusing on a number of key questions:

· How was the relationship between human and animal conceptualised, represented and discussed in medieval cultural traditions (philosophical, literary, artistic, architectural, musical or other)?

· What significance does the relationship and/or distinction between humans and
animals have in the social and legal contexts in which they interacted?

· To what extent were human and animal thought of as separable or confusable categories? How is this related to behavioural, linguistic, physical, cultural, or other factors?

· In what ways does thinking about animals in the Middle Ages serve to define a notion of the human? Is it possible to conceive of the animal in a way that does not reflect on the human?

Participants are free to interpret these questions broadly, in line with their particular areas of specialism. Priority will be given to papers that address French and Francophone topics. Please send a proposal of 400 words or less (written in English or French) for a 20-minute paper should be emailed to no later than 15 January 2012. In addition to the proposal, please submit full contact information, a CV and a tentative assessment of any audiovisual equipment required for your presentation.

The IMS-Paris will review submissions and respond via e-mail by 6 February 2012. Titles of accepted papers will be made available on the IMS-Paris web site. Authors of accepted papers will be responsible for their own travel costs and conference registration fee (35 euros, reduced for students, free for IMSParis members).

The IMS-Paris is an interdisciplinary and bilingual (French/English) organization founded to serve as a centre for medievalists who research, work, study, or travel to France. For more information about the IMSParis and the schedule of last year’s symposium, please see our website:

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