CFP: Force, Resistance, and Mercy: Medieval Violence and Nonviolence, 30th Annual Medieval Studies Symposium, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, April 6-7, 2018

5487225791_f2f9dd3b91CFP: Force, Resistance, and Mercy: Medieval Violence and Nonviolence, 30th Annual Medieval Studies Symposium, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, April 6-7, 2018
Deadline: 24 November 2017.

Keynote: Elizabeth Allen, University of California, Irvine

The Medieval Studies Institute of Indiana University invites proposals for its 30th Annual Medieval Studies Symposium, April 6-7, 2018, in Bloomington, Indiana

Iron maidens, the Inquisition, the Crusades, witch burnings: these images of violence, both fact and fiction, are profoundly connected to the Middle Ages. Yet if in many popular conceptions, the medieval world is associated with brutality and suffering, the period also offers unique formulations of mercy, compassion, and the power of resistance. In exploring both medieval violence or nonviolence, this symposium seeks to examine specific structures of power and brutality but also to complicate the narrative of the violent Middle Ages.

We invite papers on any medieval discipline or region that engage issues of medieval violence and nonviolence: What functions did violence serve in the Middle Ages? How might acts of physical and rhetorical violence against othered groups (gendered, religious, cultural, racial, nonhuman) reflect larger concerns or anxieties within medieval culture? Is there a medieval aesthetic of violence? How does medieval music, art, theology, and literature glorify or critique brutality and/or suffering? How do medieval texts understand the uses and effects of verbal violence? How might medieval violence operate in a metaphorical sense, as violence done to texts or to the material past? What does nonviolence look like in the Middle Ages? Given the functions and pervasiveness of violence, what are some ways in which it is resisted and negotiated? What alternatives do medieval people or institutions offer to violence? How might medieval understandings of mercy or love act as a counter to violence? We also encourage papers on modern representations of the Middle Ages that consider to what extent and to what ends these medievalisms employ violence and nonviolence.

We are also excited to announce that graduate students whose papers have been accepted for the symposium are invited to submit their papers by March 2, 2018 to be considered for the IU Medieval Studies Symposium Paper Prize. Papers will be evaluated by a panel of IU medieval faculty. The prize of $250 will be awarded before the symposium to help defray the cost of travel, and the winner will be noted in the program.

Please submit 200 word abstracts or complete sessions proposals to by November 24, 2017.

Call For Papers: Magic, Religion, Science

Call For Papers: Magic | Religion | Science
Indiana University, Bloomington. March 7-8, 2014
Deadline: 10 January 2014

26th Annual Indiana University Medieval Studies Symposium

question-3109789In his famous work, The Golden Bough, James Frazer proposed that human societies evolved from cultures dependent on magic to ones subject to religion and finally to ones guided by science. Scholarship since Frazer has worked to destabilize and expand upon this tidy theory, pointing out that the distinctions between these three categories of belief are not always clear and that, in fact, all three tend to exist simultaneously within the same societies, schools, and even individuals. Nonetheless, Frazer’s division of belief into magical, religious, and scientific modes of thought provides a useful lens for examining the ways that truth can be legitimated, and offers us a clear heuristic paradigm for exploration into human thought and behavior throughout history. Asking questions about magic, religion, and science offers us avenues into different epistemes and windows into the habitus of a group or society.

It is particularly useful for exploring the Middle Ages, which presents a wealth of examples in which the boundaries between magic, religion, and science are blurred, re-drawn, or entirely confounded. Indeed, the designation “medieval” across cultures often signifies a perceived interim period, between classical and modern thinking, in which multiple paradigms–magic and superstition, the hegemony of religion, and scientific exploration–coexist and compete for dominance. Investigating magic, religion, and science further within the context of the Middle Ages helps us not only to understand medieval thinking and culture more accurately and to see how the boundaries of magic, religion, and science were policed at the time, but to disturb modern assumptions about the operation of knowledge in these time periods.

Questions may include (but are not limited to):
– What role did “magical” items/practices (such as amulets, oaths, and curses) play in medieval life, and on what principles were they thought to operate? How, if at all, were they distinguished from religious or scientific practices?
– How does the examination of epistemology help undermine or reinforce distinctions between elite and popular culture?
– How (and how effectively) did medieval religious authorities police the boundaries of religious thought?
– What pursuits were seen as “science” and what distinguished them from other forms of inquiry?
– How did knowledge, obtained through magic, religion, science, or any combination of the three, affect life in the Middle Ages?
– How is scientia used and defined in the Middle Ages, considering that the modern word “science” in modern parlance often denotes an exit from the medieval world and into the Renaissance?
– How do epistemologies vary between genres? For example, how do the views of a culture’s technical texts vary from its literary texts?

Please submit 300-word abstracts to Diane Fruchtman ( by 10 January, 2013.