Friday, December 3, 2021

 Lived Spaces in Late Antiquity

Conference, 8 – 10 December, 2021

This international conference will approach the world of Late Antiquity from the perspective of space, how it was perceived, defined, and constructed through social, political, and cultural interactions. Space is the fundamental dimension of social life, the arena where it unfolds and the stage where social values and hierarchies are represented; analysis of space allows us to understand history through different means of shaping, occupying, controlling space. Space-oriented approaches have had a remarkable impact on late antique scholarship, leading to exciting new evaluations of changes in architecture and topography As such, traditional debates over the nature and dimension of urban and rural settlements are being left aside in favour of a more organic perspective that combines historical and archaeological analyses to show how elements of continuity and change were articulated in new and creative ways in different parts of the Mediterranean. This conference brings together specialists from different disciplines to look at space as a lived entity, as how it was used and how it gave shape to social life at a time of unprecedented historical change. Topics to be examined include the fate of Classical structures; the development of funerary spaces; the conceptual redefinition of space; and how religious and secular foundations redefined social life.

This will be an online event that will be transmitted via Microsoft Teams. To register, please e-mail by Monday 6 December.

This conference is generously sponsored by the School of Classics at St Andrews, the Classical Association, and the Institute of Classical Studies.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Landscape, Nature, and Sacred Site...

CONF: Landscape, Nature, and Sacred Site

Synergies across the Global Middle Ages

The goal of this 2-day interdisciplinary conference is to explore the dynamics between landscape, nature, and sacred sites across the medieval world. Building on Mircea Eliade’s pioneering work, recent focus on landscape and nature as agents of sacred power and religious symbolism, and on sacred topography as determined and shaped by the physical environment, has opened up new ways of investigating religious sites in their natural but far from neutral settings. How do mountains, rivers, wilderness, rocks or caves capture the imagination, evoke and anchor myths? In which ways do they mediate and participate in the sacred? Which spatial and visual strategies were used to engage and capitalize on the ‘natural’ in the creation of sanctuaries and other sacred buildings? How did religious communities and pilgrims respond to the land and its features? Through these and related questions, this conference aims to bring together scholars who are willing to address traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities, ‘nature’ and ‘culture,’ as well as between westerneastern, and indigenous ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it.

Papers should be of 30 min. length. Confirmed keynote speakers are Tamara Sears (Rutgers University) and Michele Bacci (University of Fribourg). The conference will take place on 12. and 13. May in the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Travel, accommodation and meals related to the conference will be covered by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Conference papers are expected to be published in a peer-reviewed anthology. Paper proposals (1 page), accompanied by a brief CV (2 pages), should be sent to Nicoletta Isar ( and/or Erik Thunø ( before 20. December 2021.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


The 42nd Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians will be co-hosted by University of Toronto Mississauga’s Department of Visual Studies and the Art Gallery of Ontario on March 25-26, 2022. We are planning to meet in person. Papers are invited on any topic relating to the art, architecture, and visual/material culture of the Middle Ages or its post-medieval revivals. Papers in English or French. Please submit a short abstract (250 words) and one-page c.v. to by December 17, 2021. Scholars at every stage of their careers are encouraged to submit proposals.

Le département de Visual Studies de l’University of Toronto Mississauga et l’Art Gallery of Ontario accueilleront conjointement le 42e colloque canadien des historiens de l’art médiéval qui se tiendra à Toronto les 25 et 26 mars 2022. Nous prévoyons de nous rencontrer en personne. Les communications portant sur tout sujet relatif à l’art, à l’architecture et à la culture visuelle/matérielle du Moyen Âge ou à ses renaissances postmédiévales seront bienvenues. Les interventions peuvent être faites soit en anglais ou en français. Veuillez soumettre un court résumé de votre communication (250 mots) ainsi qu’un bref C.V. d’ une page d’ici le 17 décembre 2021 à Les chercheurs/chercheures qui sont à différentes étapes de leur carrière académique sont encouragé(e)s à participer.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

 Historiography and Life Writing in the Late Antique World

Call for Papers

Proposals for papers are sought for a hybrid conference (participation possible both in person and online) on June 16th–17th 2022 exploring the writing of historiography in context of the developments in biographical literature during late antiquity.

The relationship between historiography and biography in antiquity has always been an uneasy one. Despite their mutual interest in strong characters, the writing of history and the writing of lives were regarded by ancient authors as two distinct genres. This separation proved influential too among modern scholars, but there have long existed voices suggesting that the boundaries between the two were much more blurred in practice (Momigliano 1971; Geiger 1985; Kraus 2010). Such considerations are particularly important for the later period because of the dynamic literary transformations it catalysed. The changing literary landscape from the fourth century on, in East and West, was shaped not only by the rise of new genres but also by the shift, redefinition, and even breakdown of established generic boundaries (Greatrex/Elton 2015).  

Recent scholarship has shown the fruitful interrelationships with contemporary literature of both later historiography (Blaudeau/van Nuffelen 2015; van Nuffelen 2019; Conterno/Mazzola 2020) and biography (Urbano 2013, Hägg/Rousseau 2000). But the link between the two remains largely unexplored. With the emergence of new biographical sub-genres – like hagiography or heresiology – and the blossoming of old ones – such as panegyric or philosophical biography – historians could draw on a hitherto unmatched spectrum of different models when incorporating the lives and deeds of individual characters into their historical narratives. This conference aims to investigate how historians adjusted to this increasing diversity of life-writing and what impact this development had on the evolution of historiography. 

We invite scholars of varied specialisms and disciplinary backgrounds interested in the history and literature of the late antique world to submit 500-word abstracts for 30-minute papers. Papers might treat, for example: 

  • the factors that influenced historians’ choice of a particular model of biographical presentation over another; 
  • the incorporation and adaptation of biographical source material (including translations) into historiography; 
  • how historians played with their readers’ expectations by both alluding to and breaking the generic conventions of different types of biographical literature; 
  • the differences in the presentation of lives across the historiographical traditions of alternative writing cultures, like Syriac or Coptic; 
  • how imagined audiences determined the stylistic and compositional choices of historians narrating the life of a historical character.
We are happy to announce Peter van Nuffelen (Ghent University) and Anne Alwis (University of Kent) as confirmed keynote speakers of the conference.

Applications from all scholars, including postgraduate students, are welcome. Abstracts of 500 words should be sent to by 5.00pm on 14th January 2022.

Very best to all,

James Corke-Webster
Karl Heiner Dahm

Monday, November 29, 2021


The 54th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies: Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond – 18-20 March 2022, Corpus Christus College & All Souls College, Oxford (deadline 10th December)

The 54th Annual Spring Symposium in Byzantine Studies will be held in Oxford on the theme of Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond. The Symposium brings together Byzantine studies with a series of innovative approaches to the material nature and realities of religion – foregrounding the methodological, historical and archaeological problems of studying religion through visual and material culture. Taking a broad geographical and chronological view of the Byzantine world, the Symposium will range across Afro-Eurasia and from Antiquity to the period after the fall of Constantinople. Panels will be arranged around the themes of ‘Objects in motion’, ‘Religion in 3D’, ‘Religious landscapes’, ‘Things without context’, ‘Things and their context’ and ‘Spatial approaches to religion’. 

In addition to the customary panel papers, an inaugural lecture and a closing lecture for a wider public, we now invite Communications of 10 minutes in duration on current research in fields linked to the theme of the Symposium. Please send your abstract (of not more than 300 words) to Ine Jacobs ( by 10 December 2021. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Soc for Late Antiquity


Call for Papers: Institutions and Institutionality in Late Antiquity  

Conference at Göttingen University, Germany, 22-24 March 2023 


Adolf von Harnack famously termed institutions “the skeleton of history.” While for many decades institutions continued to play some role in the writing of the history of the church, in recent decades they seem to have taken a back seat. While this is an understandable corrective to the enduring focus on “illustrious men” and prominent institutions in the study of early Christianity, this conference once again takes up the question of the value and meaning of institutions in late antiquity. However, it also operates with a wider notion of institutionality which comprises not only the church as an organization with buildings and bishops but also more fluid forms of institutionality, for example, circles of philosophers or ascetics, monastic communities, or literate networks. In the light of larger trends in the humanities and social sciences, we seek more robust theorizing about late antique institutions. 


Though centering on late antique Christianity, this conference intentionally adopts a wider purview—a “long” late antiquity which is geographically, socio-politically, and religiously diverse. Therefore, we solicit papers across the Mediterranean, Europe, North Africa, and the Near/Middle East, as well as papers which address the topic of institutionality in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (and their interactions/overlaps), as well as on institutions of traditional/indigenous (“pagan”) religions and philosophical “religion”—as well as on “secular” institutions. We understand that many of these terms require methodological and theoretical reflection—and in large part this is the purpose of the conference, even while exploring such questions in relation to more localized case studies. 


At this conference, we hope to address a broad range of questions, including but not limited to the following: 

  • What is the historiographical value of thinking with institutions? 
  • How do institutions help us to map thought and/or practice? 
  • What social-political power do institutions hold? 
  • What exactly constitutes an institution (or should constitute an institution)—for example, are churches institutions, and how would such substantial institutions relate to much smaller, localized institutions such as libraries, schools, or monasteries? 
  • How would (and did) institutions, which overlapped with one another, relate to one another? To what extent was there competition among contemporary institutions? 


In order to bring together leading scholars in the field with junior researchers, we invite papers which touch directly on the conference theme, particularly case studies, and we strongly encourage submissions from early career researchers. The papers should take up one or more of the above-mentioned questions and thus contribute to the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas which is the aim of the conference. The costs of travel and accommodation will be fully covered. We plan to publish the papers from the conference as a sort of compendium to late antique institutions. 


We are pleased to announce that among our confirmed speakers are Maria Doerfler, Catherine Hezser, Christian Hornung, Conrad Leyser, Christoph Markschies, and Jens Scheiner. 


To be considered for the conference, pleased send an abstract of ca. 200 words (for a 30-minute paper) and a short CV, both in English, to Robert Edwards at by 18 December 2021. Please also direct any questions to the same. 


Peter Gemeinhardt and Robert Edwards

Monday, November 22, 2021

Speculum Themed Issue: “Race, Race-Thinking, and Identity in the Global Middle Ages"

 Via Carol Anderson, Assistant Editor, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

Speculum Themed Issue: “Race, Race-Thinking, and Identity in the Global Middle Ages” Call for Papers 


François-Xavier Fauvelle, Collège de France

Nahir Otaño Gracia, University of New Mexico

Cord J. Whitaker, Wellesley College

For far too long, scholarly consensus held that race and racism were mainly Enlightenment innovations, datable to no earlier than the seventeenth century. As long ago as the early twentieth century, some scholars pushed race’s origins to the sixteenth or even fifteenth centuries, but these scholars were few and far between. The Middle Ages and, with them, medieval studies were set off as a time and discipline innocent of race and racism. This remained generally true until the advent of critical medieval race studies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Now, in 2021, special issues in major journals and no less than six full-length scholarly monographs have treated the imbrications of race with medieval art, literature, religion, and even the periodizing concept of the Middle Ages itself. Many more studies in medieval literature, history, art, religion, and culture have been conceptually informed by race, as have many studies in the modern perceptions and deployments of the Middle Ages. Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies calls for proposals for a themed issue, to be published as one of Speculum’s four quarterly issues, to recognize the intellectual value of the study of race to a comprehensive understanding of the Middle Ages.

We invite proposals for full-length essays (8,000-11,000 words) that interrogate race, race-thinking, and identity in the Middle Ages. For example, essays might consider the roles of race-making and racialization in the Islamic world; how race and identity, together with religion, was negotiated and navigated in border regions such as al-Andalus, Sicily or the Levant (between Latin Christendom and Islam), the Sahara and the Sahel region (between the Islamic world and Subsaharan Africa); how the dynamics of race-thinking informed relations between Latin and Greek Christendom and Islam or the Mongol Empire, or between the Muslim/Islamicate world and Christian, Jewish, Hinduist, and traditional-religious societies within it or beyond its reaches; how race intersected with the dynamics of trade and connectivity, religious affiliation and conversion, slavery and emancipation, peace and war. Essays may also take on the roles of race, race-thinking, and identity in the geography and periodization of the Middle Ages: Are historical moments that are quintessential to the history of race also relevant to medieval-and-modern periodizations? Essays may also consider how and why race, race-thinking, and identity have shaped modern concepts, uses, and scholarship of the Middle Ages.

The editors are open to essays that interrogate race, race-thinking, and identity in the Middle Ages by asking these and other deeply probing questions. Additionally, we are especially interested in essays that consider the globality of the medieval world: those that examine the networked interrelations and interdependences of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. In addition to scholarship in history and literature, we invite proposals using the tools and methods of anthropology, archaeology, art history, book history, historical linguistics, religious studies, sociology, and other fields germane to the studies of race, identity, and the Middle Ages.

The themed issue on race, race-thinking, and identity and the articles selected for it will be in keeping with Speculum’s purview as stated in the Guidelines for Submission: “preference is ordinarily given to articles of interest to readers in more than one discipline and beyond the specialty in question. Articles taking a more global approach to medieval studies are also welcomed, particularly when the topic engages with one or more of the core areas of study outlined above. Submissions with appeal to a broad cross-section of medievalists are highly encouraged.”

Proposals should be no more than 500 words in length and should be submitted by email to with SPECULUM PROPOSAL in the subject line by 31 January 2022. The authors of selected proposals will be notified by 28 February 2022. Completed essays will be expected by 1 December 2022.