Call for Papers: Marian Devotion and the Senses in the Middle Ages (Deadline: 12 September 2022)

Thematic focus: Networks and Entanglements

This session seeks to explore the sensory approach of the Marian cult as reflected in Eastern and Western Christianity. It aims to examine the private/collective expressions of Marian devotion in relation to the senses (touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing) that generate forms of spiritual entanglements and mutual dependencies between human devotional practices, artefacts, and sites. 

Suggested topics, on any geographic area or time period (between 300-1500) may include, but are not limited to:

  • Pilgrimages to Marian shrines/holy sites (incubation, dreams, and Marian miracles)
  • Devotion gestures based on: touch (e.g. touching the floor, kneeling, kissing), smell and its healing properties, sound, etc.
  • Active/passive use of the senses in Marian devotion
  • Inner senses/external senses in relation to Marian devotion
  • Marian devotion, the senses, and the liturgy (ceremonies, sermons)
  • Architecture/church interiors in relation to sensory effects and Marian devotion
  • Personal/collective devotional practices
  • Religious objects, the senses, and Marian devotion
  • Sensory deprivation, mystical experience, and Marian proximity
  • Visual representations and the senses: books and illustrations, paintings, mosaics, marbles, statues
  • Literature: liturgical dramas/plays; books

Submissions from a variety of disciplines are accepted including but not limited to: history, art history, visual culture, social history, cultural history, hagiography, religious studies, cultural studies, textual studies in a transdisciplinary perspective. 

This session will be a part of the 2023 International Medieval Congress 3-6 July, 2023 at the University of Leeds.

Please submit a 250-word proposal (in English) for a 15-20 minute paper. Proposals should have an abstract format and be accompanied by a short CV, of no more than 800 words, including e-mail, current affiliation, affiliation address, and position and your preference for whether to present in-person or virtually.  Please submit all relevant documents, as PDF or Word.doc, by 12 September, 2022, to the e-mail address:

If you have any questions, please contact Andrea-Bianka Znorovszky (University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain):


Published by Blair Apgar

Blair (they/them) recently completed their PhD in History of Art at the University of York with Hanna Vorholt and Amanda Lillie. Their thesis focused on the role of Matilda of Canossa in the sociopolitical development of the Investiture Controversy, and its relationship to Matilda’s material patronage. As an early career researcher, their work aims to unpack the historiographic construction of powerful medieval women’s legacies. They are also interested in the representation of the Middle Ages in modern media.

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