Call for Papers: Medieval Materiality: A Conference on the Life and Afterlife of Things (23-25 October 2014, University of Colorado)

Deadline: 1 May

University of Colorado at Boulder
Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS)

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.

Abstracts (of 300 words) accompanied by a brief biographical paragraph should be sent by May 1, 2014 to: Anne E. Lester, Department of History, alester@colorado.edu OR Katie Little, Department of English, Katherine.C.Little@colorado.edu. More information can be found on the CMEMS website.

Plenary Speakers include:

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

About Material Collective
‘As a collaborative of students of visual culture, Material Collective seeks to foster a safe space for alternative ways of thinking about objects. We strive for transparency in our practice, and we encourage the same in our institutional surroundings.’

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