Call for Papers – Land in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Land in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
The 29th Biennial Conference of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program of Barnard College
Barnard College, New York City
December 7, 2024

King Lear begins with a so-called love test that is also a problem of land. Having decided to divide up his territory among his daughters, the old king demands from them in exchange a profession of love. “Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” Almost immediately, problems of land ownership become “interessed” with seemingly less concrete aspects of human interrelationship. When his eldest daughter, Goneril, professes a limitless love that is without bounds, for example, Lear gives her land that is limited and that exists within “these bounds”: forests and meads that stretch, he explains, “from this line to this.” If in this case the granting of land is transactional, it is also resistant to any system of fungibility or equivalence. Land is on the one hand inherently material and tangible, but is on the other hand also abstract, symbolic, and often spiritual.

The 29th biennial conference of the Barnard Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program will explore the intractably complex meaning of land in the long period from approximately 400 to 1700. This one-day, interdisciplinary conference will bring together scholars of multiple disciplines (art history, history, literary studies, religion, history of science, legal history). Topics could include but are not limited to the following: boundaries, environment, enclosure law, surveying and measurement of land, trees and vegetation, pastoral poetry, claims of geographic origin, waste, shifting national boundaries, agrarian practices, herding, migration, indigeneity, and vernacularity.

The conference will be held Saturday, December 7, 2024 on the Barnard College campus in New York City.

Plenary Speakers:
Eleanor Johnson, Columbia University
Rebecca Zorach, Northwestern University


Please submit an abstract of 250-300 words and a 2-page CV to Rachel Eisendrath,

Submission Deadline: May 1, 2024

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