Friday, July 31, 2015

IMC Leeds 2016, taking place on 4-7 JULY at the University of Leeds.

Call for Papers: Leeds 2016

Call for papers for a strand of sessions to be heldat the IMC Leeds 2016, taking place on 4-7 JULY at the University of Leeds.
The overall topic will be ‘Mastering Knowledge and Power: Bishops, Schools and Political Engagement in Early Medieval Europe (650-1050)’
Giacomo Vignodelli (Universit√† di Bologna/S.I.S.M.E.L.) and myself (University of Cambridge) will be co-ordinating the sessions. We’re hoping to propose about 2-3 sessions (maybe even more according to your response) and we hope to come up with a good mix of junior and more senior researchers.

Mastering Knowledge and Power: Bishops, Schools and Political Engagement in Early Medieval Europe (650-1050)
Standing at the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, bishops were the heads of large Christian communities placed under their responsibility. Leading their flock along the path to salvation was the first and foremost duty of their office, a task that a bishop of the calibre of Ambrose considered to fall under the overarching duty of teaching (De Officiis, Book I, ch. I). In order to provide effective guidance to the faithful, bishops had to rely on their own education, based upon their knowledge of holy scripture, their familiarity with the wider and multifaceted range of Church traditions (patristics, canon law, exegesis, etc.) and their mastery of the communicative skills necessary for delivering their pastoral and political discourse. The ecclesia committed to episcopal pastoral care encompassed all the layers of society from the humblest flock to kings and emperors. Bishops were a structural element in the medieval regna and in the empire: they cooperated with public officers - with whom they often took care of administrative and juridical affairs - as well as watched over the good morality, the doctrinal beliefs and, at a more general level, the righteousness of those under whose responsibility fell the earthly and heavenly well-being of the Christian people. As a result, the episcopal ministerium demanded that bishops uphold a constant dialogue with the elites, both at the local level (the diocese or the metropolitan region) and, in some cases (often the best documented ones), at the royal and imperial scale.
The connection between culture and political influence is the primary area of interest we would like to investigate in our sessions at the IMC 2016. Our attention will therefore focus on the schools and centres of learning where bishops acquired the knowledge and the tools necessary for the performance of their duties and the wielding of their authority. Bishops had often been teachers before taking up their office and “education” – both in a restricted and wider sense – often remained a primary area of interest after their episcopal election. The education bishops received before reaching the top of the church hierarchy, their personal involvement in teaching and the impact their learning and didactic experience had on their political actions are three intertwined aspects we shall like to explore.
The main question we would like to address is the following: how was the education and learning of bishops actualised in their writings – in the form of authorial works as well as commentaries, glosses and annotations in margin of other texts – and, more generally, in their pastoral and political discourse and activities? We therefore particularly welcome papers investigating the relation between written production and bishops’ scholastic and intellectual backgrounds as it can be assessed through the analysis of the books they had at their disposal (personal books, books belonging to local libraries and schools together with books obtained through scholarly exchange). We would also like to gauge the impact of a bishop’s knowledge on his political engagement through the investigation of the strategies of communication and persuasion put to use to address other office-holders and rulers. The analysis of the choices of literary genre and register, the uses of particular rhetorical devices, and borrowings from specific sources could all be taken into account to unveil, on the one hand, the individual education of bishops and, on the other, the intentions and purposes behind specific texts. The reference to holy scriptures and the resort to exegetical arguments, called in to enhance the authority of the author, are also constitutive elements of the episcopal discourse that we shall consider and discuss in the course of our sessions.
Bringing together scholars working on different areas and periods of the history of early medieval Europe, we also hope to address the question of whether homogeneous traditions of episcopal culture existed in specific regions or within networks connecting particular centres of learning and power. Furthermore, we wish to shed light on how scholastic and cultural networks interacted with political ones.
We equally welcome all proposals which fit the overall framework of the topic. Also don’t be alarmed if you see your paper does not address the IMC special thematic strand for 2016 (Food, Feast and Famine): with more than 600 sessions, the IMC makes room for many different topics and research approaches.

Practical issues
We ask those of you interested in giving a paper to send anemail by AUGUST 23, 2015, to
Giorgia Vocino ( or and Giacomo Vignodelli ( or )
You can propose individual papers, but we also encourage you to think about who you might collaborate with, or who could be interesting as a co-speaker, respondent or moderator in your session. And, of course, please forward this call for papers to any student or colleague who might be interested in participating in our strand!
At any rate, please include the following information:
1) paper title
2) a short abstract/brief description indicating what the paper will be about (max. 200 words)
3) your contact details and affiliation
4) Equipment needed? (Laptop, Beamer, etc.)

We will then think about how the papers (20 minutes each) fit together in sessions and let you know the results as soon as possible, certainly before the beginning of September to allow time for readjustment if necessary.
Please note that unfortunately we will not be able to cover travel, registration and accommodation expenses for our speakers. We thus encourage PhD students and independent scholars to consider the bursary application offered by the IMC (deadline 17 October) which you can find following this link:*context=IMC&*id=0&*formId=83&conference=2016&*servletURI=

For general information on the IMC, see

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