Shifting landscapes of the medieval world – University of Cambridge, 13-15 September 2022

I’ve posted about the seminar series before, but this project now has a final conference.

Convenors

  • Miranda Griffin (MMLL, University of Cambridge)
  • Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (ASNC, University of Cambridge)

Keynote Speakers

Introduction

Although the word ‘landscape’ entered English in the sixteenth century, the concept of the land as it shapes and is shaped by human activity is much, much older. Much more than a backdrop to narrative, much more than a passive object of knowledge, much more than patches of space to be allocated and appropriated, landscape is revealed as playing an active part in narrative, power, and knowledge. A focus on landscape allows us to ask questions about the division between culture and nature; the boundaries between countries and cultures; the agency of the nonhuman and more than human; the role of the supernatural and the imagination in shaping history; and the ethics of landscape management, naming, and ownership.

This seminar series and follow-on conference comes at a time in which we are all, individually and collectively, rethinking our relationship to the spaces we live in and with, and our responsibility to them: we therefore anticipate a dynamic and stimulating series of conversations.

Themes

Our conference focuses on reading medieval landscapes in their multiple manifestations. We will explore themes emerging in the series of preceding seminars, as well as broadening the discussion to include aspects of other dimensions, spatial, temporal and theoretical.

Broad-ranging conceptually focussed papers, as well as explorations of specific case studies are welcomed, addressing the multifarious ways in which landscapes in the Middle Ages were read then and now. Issues addressed will include (but not be limited to):

  • the importance of shared cultural concerns in understanding landscapes;
  • the continual reconfiguration of landscapes through time and space;
  • the centrality of land in their conceptualisation;
  • the local and the cosmos;
  • the rural and urban;
  • the sacred and profane.

Methodologies will be informed by history and archaeology, texts and theory, languages and literatures, ecocriticism and ecologies, disability studies and onomastics (to name but some approaches).

One aim will be to illuminate the relationship between humans of the past and their environment in complementary ways. Another will be an interrogation of the affordances of different kinds of landscapes. The importance of various perspectives, simultaneous and continuous, will also be to the fore, included those occluded, deliberately erased and obscured. In discussing these and other subjects critically and in an open, nuanced manner, we seek to open up new ways of thinking about the shifting landscapes of the medieval world.

For information on topics discussed in the seminar series, see the blog posts on the various sessions.

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