CFP: Dark Archives 20/20: A Conference on the Medieval Unread & Unreadable (8-10 September 2020), deadline 31 July 2020

The conference will take place online, via Zoom & http://darkarchiv.es

This year, medieval primary materials have become physically inaccessible to researchers – and their archives literally dark – to a degree unknown since medieval studies first developed. And yet 2020 also caps a decade of huge growth in online digital images and other data for those sources, albeit still only for a tiny fraction. As Dark Archives 2019 investigated, this burgeoning digital availability is fuelling some of the great ambitions of medieval studies: to scan, transcribe and assemble all of its physical materials, both extant and approximations of the lost, as a single ‘graphosphere’, enabling thereby a range of transformative new disciplines and insights.

Dark Archives 20/20 therefore invites researchers from around the world to address a basic question underscored by our current physical isolation: if we no longer have access to the original sources, only to (overwhelmingly digital) copies, what of the medieval do we still possess, and what more might we thereby uncover?

We welcome proposals for papers and for practical workshops on any aspect of this topic, from any discipline, including:

How do we estimate known & unknown primary materials, extant & destroyed, in any area? What information can we digitally capture from physical artefacts (from handwriting to proteins)? Are there kinds of information that cannot be digitally captured? Given limited resources, what should we be scanning next, and how? What else should archives be doing? What is the potential of online collective scholarly endeavour, including crowdsourcing? What disciplines and discoveries might the digital enable (e.g. hitherto lost reception histories linking the ‘big medieval world’, geographically and conceptually)? What will be the new scholarly forms for the fruits of digital research? Can we trust digital facsimiles?

Sessions will be scheduled to allow participation from around the world; while discussion will be live, talks will be pre-recorded. Please submit abstracts of up to 500 words by 31 July 2020, at the latest, to Dr Stephen Pink, Executive Officer, SSMLL, at ssmll@history.ox.ac.uk.

Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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