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Friday 22 June 2018

CMS 50th Anniversary Celebrations

 The Future of Medieval Studies

Huntingdon Room, King’s Manor

10:00-10:30 Registration and Coffee


10:30- 12:30 ‘When and Where are the Middle Ages?’

How can we use the category of the medieval to think critically about approaches to the past beyond as well as within European cultures in a globalising world? ‘Medieval’ has been, perhaps bizarrely, a spatial as well as a temporal construct, generating much concern at its use to configure identities now, particularly in the Americas and Eurasia. The idea deserves demolition in these terms, but building an alternative requires us to find ways to extend serious attention not just to Eurasia (typically China) but to the rest of Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia and the Pacific. A comprehensively global approach demands new working methods, central to which is collaboration, which brings its own challenges. Ensuing dialogues may not only generate diverse periodisations but also start to reimagine categories such as politics and cosmology, and identify new ones such as networks, mobility, and value. Not all of these bridge the distinction between medieval and modern, but they do not need to do so to provide alternative options for imagining future relationships and communities.

Chair: Lucy Sackville

Naomi Standen, University of Birmingham, "Sidestepping the predicament of the Global Middle Ages."

Response 1: Elizabeth Tyler (CMS and English, York)

Response 2: Stephanie Wynne Jones (CMS and Archaeology, York)


12:30-13:45 Lunch


13:30-15:30 New Approaches: Networking the Middle Ages

Networks allow us to understand and visualise the relationships between people, places, things and ideas in new and revealing ways that go beyond and often unsettle traditional categories of analysis. Drawing both on the application of modern network theory and reconsidering its roots in medieval thought this session will explore the potential for reassessing medieval epistemologies.

Chair: Steve Ashby

Soren Sindbaek, University of Aarhus, ‘"Connecting to the network is taking longer than usual": on hubs, failure and re-routing in the Viking world.’

Response 1: Emanuele Lugli, (CMS and History of Art), ‘Network Theory and Medieval Networks’

Response 2: Pragya Vohra (CMS and History)


15:30 – 15:45 Short Break


15:45- 17:00 ‘Beyond the Academy’

The idea of the medieval has perhaps never been as prominent as it is in popular culture today. As expert and scholarly medievalists how can we engage with popular sentiments about the medieval in our lives within and without the Academy?

Co-Chairs: Sarah Rees Jones and Felicity Riddy

Caroline Palmer, Boydell and Brewer, "Publishing Medieval Studies"

Isabel Davis, Birbeck, University of London, "Medieval encounters with the reproductive body"

'The shots, and the pills, the sonograms and the ultrasounds, the ICSI and ovulation induction, the treatments at the very edge of modern technology, were miserable in a way that seemed, ironically, medieval' ~ Ariel Levy, The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir (Fleet: London, 2017), p.86.

In this quotation Levy articulates an odd temporal effect. She recognises her IVF treatment as an encounter with modernity and, at the same time, the Middle Ages. Whilst as professional medievalists we might cavil with the old assumption about the Middle Ages being more associated with misery than other periods, this strange temporal effect also invites us to reflect upon the possible use of historical, indeed medieval perspectives today. In this paper I will consider the strangely medieval encounter with the modern reproductive body and argue that history, much more than biomedical science and technology, offers a way to negotiate, if not tolerate, reproductive difficulty, disappointment, uncertainty and delay.

Respondent: Felicity Riddy (Professor Emirita, University of York)

To register for this event, please visit the York Alumni pages.