Monthly Archives: August 2014

Call for Papers: A Companion to Seals in the Middle Ages (Brill’s Companions to Medieval Sources)

battle-seal[1]Decoding Medieval Sources (Brill’s Companions to Medieval Sources)
A Companion to Seals in the Middle Ages

Medieval seals were material and visual statements of identity, power, agency, and legitimacy that could operate locally or traverse great geographic expanses to assert individual or corporate authority. The importance of the seal in medieval culture cannot be underestimated. This inter-disciplinary, edited volume seeks essays analyzing seal design, production, meaning, usage and reception in the Middle Ages. As a whole, the volume will critically engage with the historiography of seals as well as highlight new approaches to understanding seals across time and space with emphasis on Europe, the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and Byzantium c. 1100-1500. Essays therefore must include historiographical, regional and thematic explorations of medieval seals. Scholars from a range of disciplines, such as but not limited to History, Art History,Numismatics, Archaeology, Cultural and Visual Studies, are invited to contribute new and innovative examinations of select seals or seal types in context. Essays should appeal to the specialist as well as students of medieval history. Submissions are especially welcome from scholars whose work locates seals within broader developments in medieval social codes and visual or material culture.

Topics of Interest:
The Production of Seals
Ownership, Access and Usage
Authority, Ritual and the Practice of Sealing
Seals and their Documents
Sign Theory and Seals
Heraldry and Seals
The Body and the Seal
Gendering the Seal
Identity (individual or corporate) and the Seal
Seals and Foundations or Networks
Place and the Seal
The Seal and Visual Culture

Please submit a 250-word abstract for an article-length study and a CV to Laura Whatley (
and Charlotte Bauer ( by October 31, 2014. The essays in the volume will be in
English, but Brill can fund some translations of contributions from continental scholars.


Call for Chapter Proposals: Singing Death (edited book volume)

Call for Chapter Proposals:
Singing Death (edited volume)
Deadline: 30 September (submission of abstracts)

Chapter proposals are invited for an edited volume entitled ‘Singing Death’. The editors are in preliminary negotiations with Ashgate Press for a collection of essays provisionally entitled ‘Singing Death’ and we would like to invite chapter proposals for this project. ‘Singing Death’ arises out of a day-long symposium and concert combined, generously supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. This took place at the University of Melbourne, 17th August, 2013:  

The program alRequiem Mass Initialternated academic papers on the music, art and literature of death with performances of some of the music associated with it. The editors would like to extend the work of the symposium with a collection of essays focussing on death and music. We want to offer readers an encounter with music as a distinct discourse of death, another way of speaking death; the collection will be accompanied by a recording of the music involved with each of its chapters. We aim, most of all, to bring into focus how death figures through music for the living and the dying, how it taps into the experience of all those for whom death comes close.

Death is an unanswerable question for humanity, literally the question that always remains unanswered (although so many answers are offered). It is ‘the question of questions’ as Federico García Lorca put it, since it lies beyond human experience. The music of death represents one of the most profound ways in which, nevertheless, we struggle to accommodate death within the scope of the living by giving a voice to death and the dead. We want the book to engage with the profound disturbance that death presents to the living and how music expresses and/or responds to that disturbance.

The field of enquiry is very broad. We welcome proposals from any intellectual discipline that can engage with the nexus of music and death. Musicological expertise is not essential. Music, like poetry, operates in a different way from ordinary discourse; it acts as well as speaks and it can have profound and complex effects for listeners. We want our collection to address the difference that music, vocal and instrumental, makes to all those confronted with death. We also welcome proposals from those practically involved with the question, for instance music therapists involved in palliative care or grief counselling, or those who organise or perform music associated with death in some way.

Below are some possible topics for research. The list is far from exhaustive, nor is it intended to be exclusive. Each topic could also be subdivided many times:

  • music and suicide (some songs have been blamed for causing suicide, some songs commemorate a death by suicide)
  • music and murder
  • music and the dying
  • music and mourning
  • music and spiritualism (some people believe that the dead are communicating with them through music)
  • music and the afterlife
  • music, death and religion
  • music, death and the law
  • music and the revenant (ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc.)
  • death in various musical genres, for instance opera, death metal, folk music.
  • music in palliative care

Proposals should include:

  1. An abstract no longer than 500 words
  2. 3-10 keywords
  3. short CV, no more than 10 lines which can include a link to a website

Please indicate to the editors what music you wish to accompany your contribution and whether you can provide it. Recordings can be of live music or of pre-recorded music (permissions will be required when chapter is submitted). Please send to Helen Dell and Helen Hickey. See email addresses below.

Important dates:

  • 30th September—submission of abstracts
  • 30th October—notification of acceptance or otherwise
  • 30th January—deadline for submission of paper
  • 30th May—notification of acceptance of paper
  • 30th June—submission of revised version

Editors: Dr. Helen Dell and Dr. Helen Hickey, University of Melbourne, Australia, 3052. Y6h


Helen Dell:
Helen Dell’s research is in the fields of music and literature, especially when joined together as song. Her PhD thesis, on desire in French medieval song was published in 2008 as Desire by Gender and Genre in Trouvère Song, by Boydell and Brewer. Since then Helen has been conducting research into recent receptions and inventions of medieval music. She has now finished a second book, for Cambria Press, entitled: Music and the Medievalism of Nostalgia: Fantasies of Medieval Music in the English-speaking World, 1945 to 2010. Recent research has centred on the music of death, from which last year’s symposium, ‘Singing Death’ and the current planned collection have sprung. More on Helen’s research can be seen at her website:

Helen Hickey:
Helen Hickey completed her PhD thesis on the Everyday in early fifteenth-century English literature. She is interested in the ways history and literature intersect with medicine and materiality. Her most recent publication is an article in an edited collection, Theorising Legal Personhood in Pre-modern England (Brill) on the Inquisitions of Insanity and medieval literature. She is a member of the International Health Humanities Network.

CFP: Renovatio in the East Roman & Byzantine World, 395-1453 (Leeds 2015)

Call for Papers
Renovatio in the East Roman & Byzantine World, 395-1453
Proposed Sponsored Sessions at the Leeds International Medieval Congress, 6-9 July 2015
Deadline: 20 September 2014

640px-Diptych_Barberini_Louvre_OA9063_wholeA blurred program of reform presented as renewal, renovatio was an extremely important concept for the Classical Roman Empire, and remained so for the entire history of its eastern continuation. As emperors sought to establish their legitimacy through issuing law codes, building programs, and reconquering lost lands, both the reality and the rhetoric of renovatio had a fundamental impact on the Byzantine view of themselves and their state. Evidence of these programs for restoration resonates today throughout surviving texts, coins, and art and architecture, strongly influencing our historiographical reconstructions. We warmly invite papers dealing with these issues across the full lifespan of the Eastern Roman Empire and its successor states, from all areas of Late Antique & Byzantine studies. Suggested topics include:

– Justinian and his World – Reconquest, Reform, and Renewal
– Law and renovatio from the Theodosian Code to the Hexabiblos
– Iconoclasm, the Isaurians, and the Resurgence of Byzantium
– Rhetoric in Stone – Byzantine Architectural renovatio
– A Macedonian Renaissance?
– Literary renovatio – Historiography and the Greco-Roman Novel
– The ‘Komnenian Restoration’
– Art, Politics and renovatio in the post-1204 World

To apply please send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short academic biography to by September 20th, 2014.

We encourage as many people as possible to apply, in order to help the growth of Byzantine studies, and foster interaction with late antiquists and medievalists with different specialisations. To this end, we also intend to host a drinks reception on one of the evenings of the congress.

CFP: New Directions in the Study of Women Religious: Four Sessions and a Roundtable (Leeds 2015)

Call For Papers
New directions in the study of women religious: four sessions and a roundtable
International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 6-9 July 2015
Deadline: 15 September 2014


These sessions are designed to bring together scholars working on nuns from any geographical region and religious tradition from 300 – 1500, in order to examine the methodologies and concepts that are being used currently by scholars to interpret evidence produced by and on nuns. They are intended to reflect new research in nuns’ studies; therefore, the themes outlined below are flexible, and are there to spark inspiration rather than to be treated as prescriptive. The organisers are central- to late- medievalists and are aware that issues relating to late-antique and early-medieval nuns might be very different to the ones that we have laid out below. If that is the case, do not be deterred; get in touch with your ideas and we will try to adapt accordingly. In addition to the four sessions, we are organising a roundtable on the central issues involved in the study of women religious. What are the main obstacles (intellectual and otherwise) to fruitful research on women religious? Where do we go next? If you would like to be included as a panellist, please get in touch with a brief description (one or two lines) of what you would like to talk about. Please send paper proposals (of approx. 250 words, with proposed titles) and roundtable topics to either Kirsty Day (University of Leeds), or Dr Kimm Curran (University of Glasgow; HWRBI)  elcho95@gmail.comas soon as possible, but by 15th  September at the very, very latest.

Sponsored by: The History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland (H-WRBI)

SESSION 1: Old nuns, new narratives [SESSION FULL]

SESSION 2: ‘Nuntastic studies’? Issues of terminology; medieval and modern
How far were nuns aware of what they were called, and how far did their designations shape how they thought about and enacted their vocation? What did it mean to be a Franciscan or a Cistercian nun, or a nun who followed the precepts laid out by Pachomius or Benedict? Discussions of what religio and ordo meant in their medieval contexts have taken place predominantly in the context of studies of male religious, using evidence on and by male religious only. Why has —  abundant — evidence produced by and on nuns been excluded from these discussions? Has a preoccupation with the religious orders overshadowed consideration of terminology before the establishment of the religious orders? Where, if at all, does terminology come into studies of female religious who existed before the turn of the twelfth century? Moreover, despite efforts made by those working on both male and female religious for inclusivity, ‘monastic studies’  is still not a field with which female religious are comfortably associated. Jacques Dalarun published an essay in 2011 which discussed the concept of ‘le monachisme féminin’. Terms such as this or ‘women’s monasticism’ employ a gendered qualifier that isn’t applied to their male counterparts — ‘men’s monasticism’ simply doesn’t exist  as a concept (should it exist?). This uneven application serves to naturalise monasticism as a male domain, making the presence of women’s evidence in this field seem unnatural. Is there a reason, then, why we keep using these terms (or terms such as, for instance, women’s Franciscanism)? What might work as an alternative? How far does modern terminological usage (gendered and/or otherwise) affect our understanding, categorisation, and analysis of evidence relating to female religious?

SESSION 3. Individual agency, change, and reform
In scholarly narratives involving female religious, agency for various types of change —  reform included —  is often attributed to a power external to the female religious under examination. How far did individual nuns,or individual communities, influence the changes to the rules and precepts that governed their vocations? The agency of women religious can also be traced in the rules or forms of life that women wrote for their own communities. Do rules that were written by women for women’s communities differ from those written by male guardians of women’s communities? The fact that rules or forms of life were often ultimately approved or issued by male ecclesiastics tends to obscure women’s agency in the creation of such texts. Scholarship on nuns has often been blind to where women may have written entire rules or forms of life that were then merely approved by a male ecclesiastical power, or where male religious wrote rules in response to the insistence of women religious. What methodologies can be employed to trace nuns’ agency in texts where they may appear to have had none? As the theme of this year’s IMC demonstrates, much intellectual discourse in the field of medieval religion has been formed around the issue of reform. However, evidence relating to nuns features either very little or not at all in many of the most recent surveys of monastic reform. Why has this been the case, and how can we reconcile this? What can the evidence left by women religious bring to discussions of reform in the Middle Ages? The extent to which reform is an appropriate metanarrative in medieval religiosity has been brought into question by a number of scholars. How far can we trace reform in evidence produced by and on nuns?

SESSION 4. Combining methodologies, illuminating nuns
Scholarly narratives of women religious have been created in a range of disciplinary fields, and using numberof different source types. As such, these narratives have often challenged —  albeit not always consciously — many of the problems inherent in the histories of medieval religion that are based purely on normative sources. For instance, scholarly narratives punctuated by ‘inspiration,’ ‘institutionalisation’,and ‘decline’ have found an alternative in recent studies of the history of nuns’ literacies. How might we employ a combination of approaches to ostensibly divergent source types to illuminate our understanding of medieval nuns: their place in the world of medieval religiosity and their understanding of this world; their lived experiences; their agency in shaping their vocations? Methodologies that we might use to read monastic architecture have been applied by some scholars to monastic rules, and vice versa, as a useful way of understanding the dynamics of enclosure. However, as Roberta Gilchrist has argued, histories of monastic archaeology have not escaped the androcentric biases present in text-based histories of religious communities. Is there a way of combining methodologies that have been generated in different fields as a fruitful way of understanding medieval nuns, without absorbing the problematic elements associated with these fields into new narratives of women religious?

CFP: Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel (Kalamazoo 2015)

Call for Papers:
Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel
Session sponsored by Hortulus at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14-17, 2015
Deadline: 15 September 2015

Hortulus will sponsor a session on “Pilgrimage, Exploration, and Travel,” a theme selected by our readers, at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14-17, 2015. Papers presented in our session may also be considered for our Fall 2015 issue on the same theme.


© The British Library

Scholarly interest in the topic of pilgrimage spans many geographies and disciplines. Additionally, recent scholarship has revealed the significant impact of pilgrimage and travel upon medieval people of a variety of religious, social, and regional backgrounds, not just the pilgrims themselves. We invite proposals that explore the topics of pilgrimage, exploration, and travel from multidisciplinary and comparative perspectives. Some potential topics for papers might include relics, badges, clothing, and associated material culture; perceptions of space, including landscape, geography, and architecture; the economics and politics of pilgrimage; pilgrimage narratives and other literary evidence; miracles and healing; readings of pilgrimage that consider monastic vs. lay approaches, social class, and gender; local and “national” identity; sacred journey in general (not just Christian) in the pre-modern world; liturgy and ritual of pilgrimage; and failed pilgrimages. 

Please send a 300-word abstract and a Participant Information Form (available here) to by September 15, 2014.

See also:

Workshop: Winter School in Greek Paleography and Codicology (Rome, January 2015)

Winter School in Greek Paleography and Codicology
Rome, The American Academy in Rome and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 5-16 January 2015
Deadline: 15 October 2014

 In January 2015, with the kind collaboration of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library, BAV), the American Academy in Rome will offer its first Winter School in Greek Paleography and Codicology. The two curators of Greek manuscripts at the BAV, Dr Timothy Janz and Dr András Németh, will teach the courses and supervise manuscript research. The two-week course will introduce participants to various aspects of manuscript studies and offer an interactive dialogue between theory and practice.

chis_548Palaeography and codicology seminars in the first week will familiarize the participants with different forms of Greek script through sight-reading practice. As a special strength of this course, extensive library visits at the BAV will enable each student to improve individual research skills according to given criteria, with the aid of the tutors. At the Library, each student will undertake a thorough codicological and paleographical study of a particular manuscript, selected and agreed upon on an individual basis between the participant and the tutors. Discussion sessions will offer a chance to discuss and share research experience within the group and to discuss various problems of theory and practice based on experience at the Vatican Library.

Several evening lectures by specialists will complete the course, including Msgr. Paul Canart of the Vatican Library and Professor Nigel Wilson of Oxford University.

Applications from graduate and postgraduate students of Classics, History, Theology/Religious Studies, and Byzantine Studies are welcome. Students from Italian and European institutions are most welcome. The course will be taught in English. Prior knowledge of Greek is essential. Applications should include a CV, a letter of intent specifying Greek language experience, research topic, and explaining the applicant’s need for training in paleography and codicology. 

January 5-16 2015

Tuition: 450 euro, 600 American dollars

Housing: Housing is available at the American Academy for those who require it:
Shared room in an apartment: 450 euro for two weeks
Single room: 770 euro for two weeks
Room availability cannot be guaranteed and applicants should indicate their need for housing in their application.

Meals: Meals can be purchased at the Academy for 15 euro for lunch, and 27 euro for dinner. Meals are not included in the costs of the program.

Please send application materials to by October 15, 2014


CFP: The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal? (Leeds 2015)

Call for Papers:
The Empire of the Palaiologoi: Ruin or Renewal?
Session at Leeds International Medieval Congress, 69 July 2015
Deadline: 31 August 2014

Michael_VIII_PalaiologosThe entry of Michael VIII Palaiologos into Constantinople in 1261 seemed to herald a new beginning for the Byzantine empire, consigning the shattering experience of the Fourth Crusade to the past. Initial hopes were soon dashed as the empire faced more enemies while disposing of fewer resources than ever before. Political, military, economic and ideological challenges were presented by the Latin west, the rising powers of the Muslim east and the newly independent nations of the Balkans. How successfully did Byzantines meet these challenges? Although it is easy to point to the empire’s ultimate demise, more recent scholars have shown that old narratives of decadence and decline are misguided. Astonishing feats of diplomacy and adaptation can be seen, as well as periods of intense intellectual, literary, theological and artistic energy. It was a period of new ideas, self-examination and unprecedented cultural engagement. But was the restoration doomed by unfavourable circumstances in a rapidly changing world, or were poor decisions by Byzantine elites to blame? How far were the Palaiologoi themselves, the most tenacious of all Byzantine dynasties, responsible? 

Please send proposals (abstract of 250-300 words and a 50-100 word biography) for 20 minute papers to: Brian Mc Laughlin ( or Christopher Hobbs ( by August 31, 2014.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

– Imperial policy and administration: ruin or renewal from above
– Popular political movements: ruin or renewal from below
– Orthodoxy: Union, Hesychasm, the Byzantine Commonwealth
– Artistic developments
– Byzantine historiography
– Byzantine identity
– Changes in trade and the economy
– Is the notion of Palaiologan ‘decline’ inescapable or outmoded?