CFP: ‘Seeing Climate through Medieval Art & Architecture’, IMC Leeds (5–8 July 2021), deadline 25 September 2020

Call for Papers for ‘ICMA Student Committee’ Session Proposal

In keeping with this year’s theme at the Medieval Congress, this session aims to explore medieval objects and buildings created with an awareness of climate. Climate is intimately intertwined with nature and environments, with as much of a profound impact on medieval lives as on ours today. It can be a cooperative partner, nourishing and stimulating growth, or a hostile threat to life—with scorching heat or forbidding storms preventing sustainable human settlement. Medieval climate might be construed as the literal, experiential, or perceived weather, geography, topography, or environment. We are especially interested in medieval awareness of change in climate that impacts well-being, health, and security—similar to effects felt today. How did the Medieval Warm Optimum or Little Ice Age affect the objects of trade or the construction of buildings and towns? 

While there is much to be found in written sources on the effects and changes in climate, we hope to organize a session around the traces of climate in the material record of medieval art and architecture. Climate may be grasped through regional differences in architecture—whether through mundane changes in irrigation or the complex physics of buttresses. It can be seen in depictions of weather or landscape, as images reveal attitudes towards both quotidian and extraordinary natural phenomena. Climate can also emerge in the uses of certain materials—like the quality and availability of ivories or the uses of certain types of wood. 

Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Depictions of weather, nature, landscape, or natural disasters 
  • The portability and utility of media as related to climate 
  • Variances in architectural form as responses to climate 
  • The impact of these artistic choices on people’s living experiences in the Middle Ages

Please submit a 250-word proposal for a 15–20-minute paper. Proposals should have an abstract format and be accompanied by a one-page CV, including e-mail and current affiliation. Please notice that this session is primarily intended for graduate students and first-time presenters. Please submit all relevant documents, as PDF or Word.doc, by 25 September, 2020, to both: 


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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