2014 Congress Announced

January 8, 2014 in Anniversary, Conference Announcement, ICMS, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo

49th International Congress on Medieval Studies

8-11 May 2014

[Published on our first website on 8 January 2014, with updates there and here]

We announce the program for our sponsored and co-sponsored sessions at the next International Congress on Medieval Studies, when we will celebrate our anniversary year, along with that of one of our co-sponsors, the Societas Magica.  2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Societas Magica.  For the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, it marks our 15th anniversary as a nonprofit educational organization and our 25th anniversary as an international scholarly society.  This is the ninth year of our co-sponsorship with the Societas Magica, and the first year of co-sponsorship with the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida.  The Events at this Congress celebrate these shared accomplishments.

This year, with the transition to our second, updated website (begun in 2014 and completed in 2015), we began to issue the announcements for a given Congress in a series of blogposts, rather than overwriting its statements, which had left only the final state in view.  Here we offer the Congress Announced, with more to come.

I. Sponsored Sessions

Organized by Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence)

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (colour version)1. “Medieval Writing Materials: Surfaces, Fixtures, and Enclosures”

This fourth session in our recurring series on “Medieval Writing Materials” at the Congress will focus upon subjects and methodologies which call for attention, in turn or in further refinement, in response to new or continuing research.  Topics for consideration include the production, trade, and use of medieval writing materials, and the artful combinations of form and contents in their very surfaces, substances, and enclosures.  The case studies consider the evidence for the evolution of Christian manuscript production in Ethiopia from its origins onward, the significance of the materials employed in the records for the Catalan companies of Francesco di Marco Datini da Prato, and the features of specimens of European watermarked paper in Early Ottoman contexts.

Presider: Alan M. Stahl (Firestone Library, Princeton University)


  • Sean M. Winslow (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto)
    “The Gospels of Ǝnda Abba Gärima and the Contexts of Early Christian Manuscript Production in Ethiopia”
  • Eleanor A. Congdon (Department of History, Youngstown State University)
    “The Paper Used in the Account Books of Francesco di Marco Datini da Prato”


  • David W. Sorenson (Quincy, Massachusetts)
    “European Watermarked Paper in the Early Ottoman Empire:  Some Preliminary Observations”

2.  “Individual Style or House Style? Assessing Scribal Contributions, Artistic Production, and Creative Achievements”

Our session explores the complex issues of recognizing, and distinguishing between, “Individual Style” or “House Style” in the hands of scribes, artists, and others creating distinctive works of whatever kind. Contributions and comments in our recent sessions and other settings make it clear that these issues of attribution impact numerous areas of study — Insular manuscripts, Carolingian workshops, Middle English palaeography, to name a few — while a suitably rigorous methodology deserves wider application. Our contributions discuss diverse areas of subject matters and research results.

Presider: Celia Chazelle (Department of History, The College of New Jersey)


  • Donncha MacGabhann (School of Advanced Study, University of London)
    “Half-Uncial a and Uncial a at Line-Ends: The Division of Hands in the Book of Kells and an Insight into the ‘Calligraphic Imagination’ Evident in the Script”
  • Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence)
    “Variability or Multiple Identities? A Question of Style, Constraints, and Potential”


  • David Ganz (Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, and Darwin College, University of Cambridge)

II. Co-sponsored Sessions

IIA.  Co-Sponsored with the Societas Magica

Societas Magica logo3.  “Visualizing Learned and Popular Magic Through Manuscripts, Objects, and Talismans”

Co-sponsored by the Societas Magica (societasmagica.org) and the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
Organized by David Porreca (Department of Classics, University of Waterloo)

This session aims to look at the archaeology of magic as it manifests over a broad temporal and geographic area. We embrace talks on magical objects from both East and West. What objects (talismans, tomes, sculptures, inscriptions, etc.) relevant to magic survive from the Medieval era? What marks their ritual use and/or how do they distinguish themselves from ordinary artifacts?

Presider:  Mildred Budny (RGME)


  • John Haines (Faculty of Music, University of Toronto)
    “The Musical Hand of Knowledge”
  • Frank Klaassen (Department of History, University of Sasketchewan)
    “The Visual Trappings of Magic:  McGill University, Special Collections, MCG 117”
  • Liliana Leopardi (Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
    “Riding the Emerald:  Lithic Talismans in Renaissance Visual Culture”


  • Genevra Kornbluth (Kornbluth Photography), “Hands, Gems, and Geometry”

IIB.  With the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
at the University of Florida

Alternate logo for the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida, reproduced by permission4-5. “A Neglected Empire: Bulgaria Between the Late 12th and Late 14th Centuries, Parts I and II”

Co-sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence and the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida
Organized by Mildred Budny (RGME) and
Florin Curta (Department of History, University of Florida)

One of the most neglected European polities of the High and Late Middle Ages is the so-called “Second Bulgarian Empire” (1186–1396). Its history is moreover connected to the rise of Cuman power in the steppe lands north of the Black Sea, the medieval kingdom of Hungary, medieval Serbia, and the Latin Empire of Constantinople. Pope Innocent III wrote several times to Johannitsa Kaloyanes, the second ruler of the pEmpire. John Asen II won a great victory at Klokotnitsa against the Despotate of Epirus, thus enabling the rise of the Nicaean Empire, as well as the subsequent restoration of the Byzantine Empire in 1261. The lavishly decorated Tetraevangelion of Emperor John Alexander, now in the British Library, is perhaps the best known “icon” of the extraordinary cultural development which occurred in 14th-century Bulgaria.

Our sessions propose to examine this “exotic” subject, little-known among Western medievalists, of the history of Southeastern Europe between the late 12th and the late 14th centuries. Our goal is to showcase recent research on the legal history of the Empire, the relations between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity in the political and cultural achievement of medieval Bulgaria, manuscript transmission, and fashions combining Western and Byzantine elements (revealed primarily through archaeological finds in medieval cemeteries in Silistra). Our explorations seek to shed new light on this “neglected empire” of medieval Europe.

 Part I. “Defining, Shaping, and Redefining an Empire”

Presider: Florin Curta (Department of History, University of Florida)


  • Ivan Biliarsky (Institute of History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria)
    “The Second Bulgarian Empire: Identity, Typology, Continuity, and Discontinuity”
  • Dmitriy I. Polyviannyy (Ivanovo State University, Russia)
    “Sources and Patterns of State Identity of the Bulgarian Empire under the Assenids (1183–1396)
  • Francesco dall’Aglio (Italian Institute for Historical Studies, Naples, Italy)
    “Between Past Glory and Imperial destiny: The Ideological Use of the Past and of the Imperial Idea in 13th-Century Bulgaria”
  • Elisaveta Todorova (Department of History, University of Cincinnati)
    “The Second Bulgarian Empire and the Mediterranean”

Part II. “Engaging in Empire, from Center to Periphery and Beyond”

Presider: Ivan Biliarsky (Institute of History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)


  • Kirił Marinow (Department of Byzantine History, University of Łódź, Poland)
    “The Empire’s Heart: The Significance of the Capital Tărnovo in the History of Late Medieval Bulgaria”
  • Maryiana Tsibranska–Kostova (Institute for Bulgarian Language, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria)
    “Anti-Heretical Texts in 14-century Bulgarian Compilations of Canon Law”
  • Stefan Rohdewald (Historical Institute, East-European History, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
    “Within a Southeast European Multiple-Contact Zone: The Conceptualization of Medieval Bulgarian and Early Ottoman History”

III. Reception

Reception for the Societas Magica and the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, to celebrate shared anniversaries in this landmark year.  Please join us at 9:00 pm on Friday 9 May at Fetzer 1020.


Information about the International Congress on Medieval Studies and the Societas Magica appears on their websites:

Information about our sessions in previous Congresses appears on our pages on

Please watch our site and these sites for developing information about the next Congress.



The  2014 Congress Report provides details of the events, with Abstracts for the papers, Corrigenda for the programs of the “Neglected Empire” sessions, the Posters for our sessions, and some photographs. Now these Posters are assembled in context in our Gallery of Posters on Display.

A report of the Anniversary Reception focuses on this special event.  All these events were a wonderful, collaborative way to celebrate our shared anniversaries.  We thank all our participants and contributors!


P.S.  Do you have any suggestions for our next anniversaries?  We’d love to hear.  Please let us know.

You could Contact Us and join the conversation on our FaceBook Page.