CFP: Illuminating the Dark Ages: Manuscript art and knowledge in the Early Medieval world (c. 600-1100) (University of Edinburgh 28-29 June 2018) deadline 15 March 2018

Medieval illuminated scenes and initials today illustrate a myriad of book covers, chosen as the perfect embodiment of a historical episode, idea, or biography. From detailed scenes to sketchy drawings, illuminated manuscripts offer a sometimes overlooked illustration of medieval life. However, unlike the late centuries of the medieval millennium, the study of the Early Middle Ages is not normally backed by abundant documentation, and conjecture and speculation often prevail, particularly in art historical publications. Early medieval illuminated manuscripts were mostly tools of liturgy and prayer, but also patronage statements and transmission agents for science, music, and literature in a historical period. Only in recent decades has the study of this era begun to emerge from the lasting shadow of pejorative Gibbonian assumptions.

“Illuminating the Dark Ages” has been conceived as a bilingual (English-French) conference that aims to bring together researchers of all levels, including postgraduate students, working on the wider Early Middle Ages and the decorated manuscript as a cultural medium. From a variety of perspectives, this conference intends to shed light on how and why manuscripts were decorated in the early medieval period, from lavishly illuminated religious cycles to illustrations of written works of Classical literature. Even though the geographical focus is put on the Latin West, comparative approaches to manuscript visual cultures and knowledge transmission in other cultural areas (roughly in the same chronological period), such as Byzantium or the Islamic world, are naturally welcomed.

Papers, in either English or French, may address any of the following topics:

  • Iconographies, cults, and theological debates.
  • The performative book and ritualistic practices.
  • Manuscript patronage, donation, and authorship
  • The early medieval manuscript and its material components.
  • Illustrations in musical manuscripts.
  • Medicinal texts, plants, and animals.
  • Illustrated maps and astronomical treatises.
  • The decoration of Classical works of literature.
  • Early medieval libraries, scriptoria, and manuscript collections.
  • Digitising and curating the medieval manuscript.

Papers should ideally be no more than 20 minutes long. Sections or summaries of current and recent PhD projects are particularly welcome. We would also be delighted to host any posters during the conference. Travel funding may be available.

Titles and abstracts, of no more than 300 words, should be received by March 15, 2018. Acceptance notifications will be delivered shortly afterwards. Submissions and any queries should be sent to:


Published by thegrailquest

Anastasija Ropa holds a doctoral degree from Bangor University (North Wales), for a study in medieval and modern Arthurian literature. She has published a number of articles on medieval and modern Arthurian literature, focusing on its historical and artistic aspects. She is currently employed as guest lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education. Anastasija’s most recent research explores medieval equestrianism in English and French literary art and literature, and she is also engaged as part-time volunteer horse-trainer. In a nutshell: Lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Sport Education Graduate of the School of English, University of Wales, Bangor. Graduate of the University of Latvia Passionate about history, particularly the Middle Ages A horse-lover and horse-owner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: