Yale Medieval Studies / Kalamazoo 2019 (May 9–12)

Deadline: 8 September

August 10, 2018


Abstracts of 250 words are due by September 8, 2018 and should be sent to icmsyalecfp2019@gmail.com

Constructing Sacred Space

Sacred space is at the heart of devotional practice for many religious traditions: its establishment, demarcation, and experience is integrated into communal liturgical practice and private devotion. Scholars of Anthropology, Art History, History, and Literature have all interrogated the construction of sacred space and its function for the community and the individual. Although Justinian's Digesta (I.VIII.6.3) sets out the creation of sacred space as a specifically communal activity, when space is decoupled from the strictures of ecclesiastical law, the possibilities for the construction and experience of sacred space are multiplied. Moreover, there are both textual and architectural transpositions of sacred sites in Jerusalem and Rome onto remote locations across Europe.

Papers should address the construction of physical, simulated, imagined, and fictional sacred space– ranging from the architectural to the liturgical to the imitative to the literary. Papers might address topics such as architectural design, liturgical practice, narrative descriptions of built space or the sanctification of space, imagined or simulated sacred space, enshrinement, and the establishment of sacred spaces outside of churches.

Scripts, Ciphers, Shorthands

Writing in the Middle Ages is often described in terms of language, scribes, and authors. Yet, the practice of writing calls attention to both technical elements of composition and to the visual aspect of the script, spurring innovations in efficiency and a desire to imitate or adapt hands to a variety of uses and settings. From the fake and decorative scripts described by Christopher Wood to the notarial arts recently discussed by John Haines, abbreviation and symbolic uses of language permeate both visual and manuscript culture. More specifically, ciphers were developed, used, and discussed by figures as various as al-Kindī, Hrabanus Maurus, Hildegard von Bingen, and Roger Bacon. This panel seeks papers that interrogate medieval systems of writing, specifically notarial shorthands, ciphers, and simulated scripts, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We hope this panel will be of interest to paleographers and codicologists, but also to scholars working on the use of script in the visual arts and in textual transmission.

Odyssean Figures in the Medieval World

Described in antiquity as the first historian, the brave, lonely traveller who ‘saw the cities of many peoples’ (Polybius, 12.27.11; Diodorus Siculus, 1.1.2), Odysseus represents a provocative site to explore classical receptions, medieval globalism and encounters with alterities. We invite papers that explore the following themes relating to the figure of Odysseus:

• Exile, displacement and nostalgia
• Travel, wonder and paradoxography
• Autopsia and historiography

Throughout the Middle Ages, the characters of Homer were reimagined in new cultural contexts and a wide range of vernacular literary traditions. Mediated primarily through Latin sources (Vergil, Statius, Dares Phrygius), Homeric figures were adapted into literary and also oral traditions. This panel seeks broad conversations across diverse medieval communities and literatures, specifically through the figure of Odysseus. Papers that discuss Odyssean themes in oral and/or non-Western traditions are particularly welcome.