Call for Papers – Medieval Materiality: A Conference on the Life and Afterlife of Things

 23-25 October 2014
University of Colorado at Boulder
Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS)

Submission Deadline for Abstracts:
May 1, 2014

Recent work in medieval history and art history has focused on materiality, specifically the object-ness of things – relics, cloth, books, and other materials – that survive from the medieval past. At the same time, scholars of medieval literature have approached materiality by reinvigorating manuscript studies and by incorporating theories of digital media and networks. This interdisciplinary conference invites scholars in all fields to come together to ask two main questions: What does medieval materiality consist of? And what are the ramifications of such a focus for medieval studies more broadly?

We invite abstracts for papers (20-minutes in length) along the following themes: the relationship between objects and their social environments, between objects and spiritual power, the literal and the spiritual in biblical exegesis, between descriptions of objects, theories of ekphrasis, and the literal presence of things, and between medieval and post-modern approaches to “things,” as well as gendered things, collecting and collections, networks of trade and travel, objects of desire and emotions and things. We also welcome papers that investigate the ethical and political consequences of a focus on materiality – both for medieval thinkers and for ourselves.

Plenary Speakers:

Jessica Brantley (Associate Professor, English, Yale University),

Caroline Walker Bynum (Professor Emerita, History, Columbia University/Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ),

Aden Kumler (Associate Professor, Art History, University of Chicago), and

Daniel Lord Smail (Professor, History, Harvard University).

Abstracts (of 300 words) accompanied by a brief biographical paragraph should be sent to: Anne E. Lester, Department of History, OR Katie Little, Department of English, More information can be found at

Sponsored by:English Language Notes, President’s Fund for the Humanities, Center for the Humanities and the Arts, Center for Western Civilization, Arts and Sciences’ Fund for Excellence, and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

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