CFP: ‘Contested Boundaries: Blurring the Sacred and the Secular in Late Medieval Visual Culture’, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo 2023, deadline 15 September 2022

'Contested Boundaries: Blurring the Sacred and the Secular in Late Medieval Visual Culture'

As Joanna Cannon has argued: “The secular and the sacred were overlapping spheres; to suggest a clear contrast between secular and sacred would thus be an anachronism.” Bearing in mind Cannon’s assertion, this session seeks papers that investigate how late medieval visual culture blurs the border between the sacred and the secular throughout the late medieval global world (ca. 1250-1500). During this period, the creation of and haptic engagement with sacred and secular architectural spaces and objects in various media operated in a state of flux. Such variability and fluidity were dependent on the socio-political context of the production, circulation, and reception of such objects and spaces, and were critically shaped by contemporary ontological and hermeneutic questions of their very nature and interpretation.

This session seeks papers that address any of the following questions: How did the uses of objects and their significance shift as they moved from space to space, from court to court, from family member to family member, from collector to collector? How did the interpretation of and engagement with spaces change as both people and objects moved through them? In what ways did wealth (or lack of it), gender, race, and ethnicity impact the audiences’ ability to access and engage with particular objects and spaces?

Possible themes and subjects include but are not limited to:
• Cloisters, cathedral spaces, civic buildings
• Altarpieces, cassone and furniture, quotidian domestic objects
• Portable books, jewelry, clothing

Keywords: sacred, secular, production, circulation, engagement, interpretation

Gabriela Chitwood (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Oregon), (she/her/hers)
Shannah Rose (Ph.D. Candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University) (she/her/hers),

Nina Gonzalbez (Ph.D. Candidate, Florida State University), (she/her/hers)

Submissions are due by September 15, and those wishing to submit a proposal must upload at:


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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