The IMC provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of all aspects of Medieval Studies. Proposals on any topic related to the Middle Ages are welcome, while every year the IMC also chooses a special thematic focus. In 2022 this is ‘Borders’.
Medieval borders have preoccupied scholars for several decades in various guises. The term ‘border’ designates a wide variety of phenomena: physical geographical limits, that can be signalled by border markers or natural features, points where toll has to be paid, political boundaries, that vary from points in space to linear and fortified military fronts, ways of controlling space, frontier zones, borderlands, porous zones of encounters and contact, ways of limiting community and identity, ideological and metaphorical delimitation including discourse and representation, bordering practices, the process of creating and performing borders, and borderscapes to capture fluidity and change over time.
This strand seeks to bring together medievalists of all fields interested in both the theory and practice of borders in all their variety, from physical boundaries and material borders to dynamic social and spatial relationships. Borders can be linked to power and the formation of states, to definitions of self and other, to violence and military engagement, to belonging and becoming, to material and symbolic construction, to relational and perspectival production of space, to mapping and discourse, to experience and theory, to negotiation and performance. Borders can also be found in frescoes, textiles, clothing, ceramics or coins, with practical, symbolic or aesthetic functions. Borders are also subject to evolution and significant change over time not just between the medieval and modern, but within the medieval period.
Themes to be addressed may include, but are not limited to:
Political and military borders
Living in border zones
Medieval and Modern perceptions, descriptions, and conceptualizations of borders
Delimiting borders, border markers
Encountering and experiencing borders
Borderscapes in the longue durée
Belonging and exclusion
Mapping borders and border zones
Materiality of borders
Border and power
Medieval imagery of borders
Political, social, cultural, religious performance of borders
Village and parish boundaries
Boundaries between town and countryside and within towns
Practices of delimitation
Blurring boundaries such as human/animal, animate/inanimate, gender, age, status, religion
Self and other, boundaries of the self
Fluidity and fixity of borders
Borders in manuscripts
Material and visual borders
Processual and performative turns and medieval borders
Paratexts as borders
Borders of the body
Transcending and reaffirming boundaries between life and death
Borders, boundaries, frontiers
The IMC welcomes session and paper proposals submitted in all major languages.
The Special Thematic Strand ‘Borders‘ will be co-ordinated by Nora Berend (Faculty of History / St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge).
Format: Coronavirus restrictions permitting, we are planning, to host an in-person gathering in Leeds, with virtual involvement possible for those who are unable to attend in person. You will be asked when submitting your proposal about whether you would prefer to present your paper or session in-person or virtually. It is important that you let us know your preference, as this information will inform our planning of both virtual and in-person elements.
This session is in memory of medievalist and distinguished Tolkien scholar who we sadly lost in 2020: Richard C. West. Richard wrote some of the most important and influential early scholarship on Tolkien including his seminal 1975 essay ‘The Interlace Structure of The Lord of the Rings’ which demonstrated how the narrative interlace structure used by medieval authors influenced Tolkien’s work. In memory of Richard’s scholarship papers in this session will explore the influence and impact of works of medieval poetry and poets on the creative thought, process, and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
This round table discussion will feature talks by teachers on how they have used the works of Tolkien to introduce and engage students with new fields of study and disciplines. Short papers and discussions will explore how teachers have used the works of Tolkien as a gateway for students to explore and become passionate about other areas of study.
Papers in this session related to the thematic strand of the conference papers will explore themes around metaphysical borders and liminal spaces between life and death in Tolkien’s works and their influences.
Papers in this session will explore broader topics around different types of less evident borders found in Tolkien’s creative thought and writing. They can include orientations and borders that are encountered and crossed (or not) in various types of social interactions and relationships in Tolkien’s legendarium including social, linguistic, racial, and sexual.