Call for Papers – Catastrophe, Calamity and Chaos in the Pre-Modern World

Catastrophe, Calamity and Chaos in the Pre-Modern World
A Virtual Symposium on February 9, 2013, 8:30 – 10:30 AM Pacific Standard Time
Call for Presentations

The Pre-Modern Institute (formerly the Medieval and Modern Institute) at the University of Alberta, in collaboration with Athabasca University and PreMiss (the Pre-Modern Institute Student Society), is soliciting proposals for participation in a virtual (fully on-line) symposium on “Catastrophe, Calamity and Chaos in the Pre-Modern World.” The symposium time-slot (8:30 – 10:30 AM PST) permits active participation from across a large number of time zones, and is specifically designed to enable conversations among specialists who otherwise would not encounter one another. Participants will discuss previously-circulated presentations, available in advance through a symposium website.

The organizers encourage presentations concerning any area of the globe during pre-modern times, roughly understood as the period before c. 1750 CE, but allowing for flexibility where regional specialists periodize differently.

The symposium will stimulate comparative discussion of the dynamics of catastrophic, calamitous and chaotic events such as volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods, plagues, epidemics, expulsions, forced migrations, genocides, and terrorism. Presentations may address the causes of the events, the events themselves, the results of the events, the depiction of the events (in textual or visual media), or the subsequent memory and commemoration of the events.

Presentations may be in any format, including but not limited to text files (e.g. in Microsoft Word), power point presentations, pdfs of poster presentations, MP3 audio files, or YouTube videos. Participation in discussion, through Elluminate for Moodle, will be possible via text, voice, and/or video both in a “main” room and in topical/thematic breakout rooms. All rooms will be moderated. A link enabling access to the discussion forum will be sent to registered participants.

The organizers plan to publish fleshed-out versions of a selection of the presentations as an edited collection.

Please send 150 word (text) abstracts and a brief biography or CV by November 30, 2012 to Questions concerning format should be addressed to Felice Lifshitz ( or Shandip Saha (

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