CFP: ‘Sacred Scripted Images – The Iconic Presence of Script in Medieval Liturgical Space’ (Heidelberg, 20-22 Jan 2022), Deadline 13 November 2020

Inscribed artefacts in liturgical space, from apse mosaics to liturgical vessels, are not only evidence of the wide range of the use of script within the context of mass, but also testify to the presence of something written at a sacred place. “Presence”, here, is understood as a dynamic category, surpassing the act of reading as one form of reception and broaching the issue of the material quality of script and letters in liturgical space, as well as the visual implementation of sacred authority and power.

During the past years, the historical, art historical and liturgical sciences, as well as the visual culture studies have extensively researched the forms and requirements of presence effects (as in the exertion of sovereignty). Research has also been conducted on the different means, practices and strategies by which visual implementation (as in images, gestures and rituals) is achieved. The conference will build on this research, transferring these questions to the media of script – be it painted, chiselled, scratched, sewn or embossed. As previously indicated, the conference will focus less on the ways in which liturgical books served the reading and recitation during mass. Instead, we aim to question the material form, iconicity, and effectiveness – in short, the presence – of script in the context of mass: To which extent did script within liturgical space, especially script at and on top of the altar, produce presence and suggest sacredness? Was a sacred or sacramental significance attributed to the material appearance and presentation of single scripts and books, particularly to the “Holy script“ of the bible? Could we maybe even speak of a “sacramental presence of script” within this context? Last but not least, the conference has set the goal to test the scope and the limits of this questionable category by means of an interdisciplinary discussion. Consequently, we hope to receive contributions of art historians, theologists, historians, German philologists, liturgical science and visual culture specialists, as well as experts in other relevant scientific fields. We explicitly encourage junior scientists to submit their proposals.

Proposals for lectures of 20 – 30 minutes with a follow-up discussion can be submitted until November 13th, 2020. Please send the title for your submission, as well as a brief summary (max. 500 words), a short academic curriculum vitae (max. 1 page), and your contact information to:


Published by Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson holds a First Class Honours in the History of Art from the University of Bristol, with a particular focus on Medieval Florence. In 2020 she achieved a Distinction in her MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialised in the art and architecture of Medieval England under the supervision of Dr Tom Nickson. Her dissertation focussed on an alabaster altarpiece, and its relationship with the cult of St Thomas Becket in France and the Chartreuse de Vauvert. Her current research focusses on the artistic patronage of London’s Livery Companies immediately pre and post-Reformation. Ellie will begin a PhD at the University of York in Autumn 2021 with a WRoCAH studentship, under the supervision of Professor Tim Ayers and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein.

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