2016 Congress Call for Papers

June 29, 2015 in Call for Papers, Conference Announcement, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo

Call for Papers

for Sessions Sponsored and Co-Sponsored
by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
at the 2016 International Congress on Medieval Studies

12–15 May

[Updating our Post of 10 June 2015, now with the Call for Papers for Our Sessions on 29 June 2015, and additionally with further updates after the timely links regarding the Congress have become obsolete]

For the 51st International Congress on Medieval Studies [“http://wmich.edu/medieval/congress/sessions.html” link no longer valid] at Kalamazoo next May, the Research Group will sponsor and co-sponsor Sessions, as part of our continuing activities at this Congress. For example, at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Research Group had 2 sponsored and 3 co-sponsored Sessions.

As before, we co-sponsor sessions with the Societas Magica (since 2006) and with the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida (since 2014).  Here we announce the Call for Papers for all our Sessions for the 2016 Congress.

Please send your proposals for papers, along with the completed Congress Participant Information Form [formerly available online, during the time of the Call] to the Session Organizer or to [email protected] to reach us on or before 15 September 2015.

Logo of the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (colour version)I.  Sponsored Session

1.  Parchment or Paper? Choosing the Writing Medium in the Era Before the Printing Press

Organized by Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence)

Fleur-de-lys watermark, reproduced by permissionAs the fifth in our series on ‘Medieval Writing Materials’ at the Congress (2011–2014), this session examines the choices of writing media made for volumes of different sorts of texts between the introduction of paper-making in Europe (especially after its rise in the 1270s in Italy) and the spread of the printing press from Germany in the mid-15th century. The expansion of available choices for writing surfaces seems to have opened the ways for both new and conservative (or indeed reactionary) approaches, variously haphazard and deliberate, as materials came to hand or came into reach, and as changing technologies interacted, complexly and sometimes ‘organically’, with changing patterns of distributions and audiences for volumes in many forms, both ‘documentary’ and ‘literary’. Fragmentation and, over time, reconstitution, could be the names of the ‘game’.

Who chose, and why, whether a volume was to be made of paper or animal skin?  Were particular groups, such as merchants or civic officials, more open to the new medium of paper, and which groups sought conservatively to retain parchment?  What roles did the sorts of texts have in the process?  Was the growing availability of paper, as more mills arose across Italy and then Europe, a factor more important in the adoption of the printing press and its products than the development of that technology itself?  Such are questions that this session seeks to explore.

II.  Co-Sponsored Session with the Societas Magica

Logo of the Societas Magica, reproduced by permission2.  Magic on the Page: Transmission and Representation of Magic

Organized by László Sándor Chardonnens (Radboud University, Nijmingen)

Few medieval magical texts have so far been made available to a modern audience in the form of editions or translations; most sources are still only accessible in their host manuscripts and early printed books.  This session tackles issues relating to the medieval and renaissance transmission of magical texts (‘Recto’), and the presentation of these sources in modernity (‘Verso’).  Directions that the session can take include the fluid nature of the transmission of magical sources in their original contexts, and the treatment of these sources by modern editors and translators.

III.  Co-Sponsored Sessions with the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida (2 Sessions)

Logo of the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida, reproduced here by permissionCo-organized by Mildred Budny (Research Group on Manuscript Evidence)
and Florin Curta (University of Florida)

3.  The Medieval Balkans as Mirror:
Byzantine Perceptions of the Balkans and the World Beyond

Recent Byzantine Studies have placed much emphasis on the “image of the Other,” especially on the use of the Empire’s neighbors in the Balkans or the Caucaus region, as a foil for the construction of the Self in works by the educated elites in Constantinople.  Given the long conflict between Bulgaria and Byzantium between the late 8th and the early 11th centuries, the landscape in the central and eastern Balkans, as well as all manner of things Bulgarian (from dress to military skills), played a significant role in the works of Byzantine historians preoccupied with the definition of an imperial, Byzantine identity.  A similar tension pertained in the 12th century, as Byzantine intellectuals (especially Anna Comnena) began to reflect upon the relation between the Empire and the world beyond the Balkans, namely the nomads in the steppe lands north of the Black Sea (Pechenegs, Oghuz, Cumans).  This session aims to showcase contributions to the study of the fascinating “mirror image” of Byzantine intellectuals gazing across the Balkans.

4.  Crusading and the Byzantine Legacy in the Northwestern Black Sea Region

Alternate logo for the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Florida, reproduced by permissionDuring the first Three Crusades, the Black Sea remained outside the main routes along which the crusading armies moved towards the Holy Land, even though many of them crossed the Balkans and Asia Minor.  The situation changed dramatically in the early 13th century, after the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade.  With the rise in 1204 of the Latin Empire and the disintegration of Byzantine hegemony in the Black Sea region, “Western” hopes of recovering Jerusalem were placed on hold and a new phase opened in the history of the Crusades.  From the establishment of the Latin Empire in the early 13th century to the Ottoman conquest in the 15th, the region of the Black Sea lay at the center of a major clash of powers, with a history most complicated.  Byzantines, Mongols, Seljuq Turks from the emirates of Menteshe and Aydin, and then Ottoman Turks — all were influenced by later Crusade projects and strategies.  In contrast with the passagium generale so typical for the first Crusades, later crusading in the Black Sea region was a passagium particulare with more limited goals, involving powers in the area.

The session will draw attention to this sphere of crusading, neglected until now. The purpose is to present several case studies of Crusade perception and comprehension, as viewed from small political actors such as the 14th– and 15th-century principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.  This quest makes it possible to show how both states, although Orthodox Christian and thus, if not outright hostile, at least cautious about the goals of the crusading movement, developed specific policies aimed at resisting Ottoman encroachment.


The Call for Papers for the Congress as a whole is available online during the duration of the Call [and now removed].

Please send your proposals for papers, as described above, by the Call for Papers deadline of 15 September 2015.


Also, we report that our website now has indexed lists of the Authors of Abstracts for our Congress Sessions so far.
They are searchable
By Author and
By Year.

We thank the contributors, organizers, and co-sponsors of our sessions.


Next Stop: 2016 Congress Planning.