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Call for Papers: ICMA Kalamazoo Conference Session on Sacred & Secular in Medieval Culture

Published August 23, 2022

The Graduate Student Committee for the International Center of Medieval Art invites papers for their session at the 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies, which will be held May 11-13, 2023, in Kalamazoo, MI.

FSU doctoral student Nina Gonzalbez is the presider of this special session, “Contested Boundaries: Blurring the Sacred and the Secular in Late Medieval Visual Culture.”

The deadline for abstracts is September 15, 2022. Submit online here.

As Joanna Cannon has argued: “The secular and the sacred were overlapping spheres; to suggest a clear contrast between secular and sacred would thus be an anachronism.” Bearing in mind Cannon’s assertion, this session seeks papers that investigate how late medieval visual culture blurs the border between the sacred and the secular throughout the late medieval global world (ca. 1250-1500). During this period, the creation of and haptic engagement with sacred and secular architectural spaces and objects in various media operated in a state of flux. Such variability and fluidity were dependent on the socio-political context of the production, circulation, and reception of such objects and spaces, and were critically shaped by contemporary ontological and hermeneutic questions of their very nature and interpretation.

This session seeks papers that address any of the following questions: How did the uses of objects and their significance shift as they moved from space to space, from court to court, from family member to family member, from collector to collector? How did the interpretation of and engagement with spaces change as both people and objects moved through them? In what ways did wealth (or lack of it), gender, race, and ethnicity impact the audiences’ ability to access and engage with particular objects and spaces?

Possible themes and subjects include but are not limited to:

• Cloisters, cathedral spaces, civic buildings

• Altarpieces, cassone and furniture, quotidian domestic objects

• Portable books, jewelry, clothing

Keywords: sacred, secular, production, circulation, engagement, interpretation