Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Medieval Collections (a roundtable) 
In recent decadesphilosophical writing about things has paid significant attention to networks, to how things interact with each other or with humans in a variety of contexts. Scholars such as Bruno Latour and Jane Bennett have provided medievalists with sophisticated theoretical frameworks for understanding the complicated relationships between and among things, people, and nature. In 2016, the Material Collective also took up ideas having to do with collections and collecting in both medieval and modern moments. Our special issue of postmedieval, Hoarders and Hordes: Responses to the Staffordshire Hoard, allowed us to think about the Hoard as a thing that is simultaneously singular and collective. As Karen Overbey and I asked in the introduction to that volume, “How do we historians of material culture deal with such a displaced and enigmatic group of objects, especially while they are still in fragments?” 
This roundtable proposes to continue and expand that conversation about hordes to consider the broader category of collections. What kinds of things and texts were collected in the Middle Ages, and for what purposes? How do medieval collections relate to the curated groupings of modern scholars and institutions? Participants in the session might consider those questions in the contexts of archaeology, art/visual/material history, or the history of texts. Possible topics might include medieval collections of ideas, like Isidore of Seville’s seventh-century Etymologies, or medieval assemblages of things, like church treasuries, hoards, or composite manuscripts containing multiple texts.  Speakers might also include archaeologists who continue to unearth medieval “hoards,” as witnessed by an excellent session on the topic at the 52nd Congress in 2017. (Abstracts of no more than 500 words to by Sept. 15)

Maggie M. Williams
Associate Professor of Art History
William Paterson University

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