Monday, August 5, 2019

Call for Papers


Ambiguous Borders

Organisers: Catherine E. Karkov, University of Leeds
(c.e.karkov@leeds,ac,uk:c.e.karkov@leeds,ac,uk>) and Johanna
Green (>)

Borders are shapeshifting and often even imaginary. Their character
varies in different cultures, times and spaces and within or between
different academic disciplines, and within the tools we use to study
the Middle Ages. Geographic borders which today appear insuperable may
in the past have been zones of contact, and the medieval experience of
borders was certainly different to the modern one. Nevertheless, both
medieval and modern borders can be areas of contact as often as they
can be void. They foster on the one hand creative exchange and on the
other alienation. They are simultaneously areas of creative
disjunction and of fear, and it is such tensions that make borders
fascinating. These three sessions will explore the ambiguities of
borders from three different perspectives: the cultural and geographic
borders that came to define the medieval world in the present day, the
im/material borders that are now so much a part of the way we study
medieval culture,  and the disciplinary and chronological borders that
are now being transgressed in order to shed new light on the Middle
Ages and its importance for the modern world.

Session 1: Cultural Borders

This session will explore how geographic and political borders change
in their character and function. Many modern European boundaries were
shaped by medieval migrations. The idea that sea borders defined an
‘island nation’ is fundamental to English nationalism, yet before it
succumbed to rising sea levels, Doggerland was a major zone of human
contact – as was the English Channel at various points throughout the
Middle Ages. Given this history, what do the various attempts over the
millennia to define boundaries with walls or other physical barriers
signify? How does the experience of crossing borders change in
different cultures, times and places? In the complex jurisdictional
jigsaw of medieval Europe, the role of borders could be different to
our modern understanding, as they assumed a larger role in everyday
life but functioned in different ways. How does the experience of a
medieval refugee or exile compare to that of a contemporary refugee?
And How are those experiences represented then and now?

Session 2: Im/material Borders

With the increase in the availability of digital manuscripts and
artefacts over the past twenty years, the ways in which we encounter
the medieval has changed and will continue to change. The borders
delineating repositories such as libraries and museums are becoming
more fluid. The proliferation of digital archives online, via social
media, within emerging digital editions, and 3D and Virtual Reality
are dissolving old boundaries of custody and access. This session
investigates the changing borders of our digital and virtual
encounters with the medieval culture, from the analogue to the
immersive. How are our material experiences with what we have
traditionally called “material” culture changing across image-based
media (or are they?) and is the im/material encounter becoming
increasingly more blurred between physical and digital?

Session 3: Disciplinary Disjunctions

Medieval studies are too often kept penned in a border position which
defines them as an entrance lobby to the Renaissance and modernity.
Yet the Middle Ages disrupt and dislocate neat temporal and
disciplinary geographies. They encourage us to undermine bland western
canonicities. By engaging in radical disjunctions with contemporary
art, literature, and cultural practices, the Middle Ages can become a
means of questioning and undermining Western cultural hierarchies and
creating new cultural syntheses.

Professor Catherine E. Karkov
Chair of Art History
School of Fine Art
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT

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