From archaeology to the archive, medieval studies can be traced through various discoveries – from the physical uncovering of artifacts and collections that shift the canon, to periods of concentrated, sometimes unprecedented, attention received by an artist, medium, region or particular artifact. Parallel to these physical and theoretical discoveries, the reuse and display of medieval styles, motifs and objects has brought scholarly discovery into contemporary discourse, and the reception of medieval objects into areas beyond academia. Each generation has their own vision of the Middle Ages, from Horace Walpole to William Morris, from J.R.R. Tolkien to George R.R. Martin. Through the imitation and inspiration of the past, figures interested in medieval art have added their own preoccupations into how the period is understood, from the sixteenth century up to the present day. The same is true of scholars and collectors, who have promoted particular geographical or political agendas in their study and favouring of particular schools, regions, countries, and empires.
At a time when facts seem flexible and the consensus seems fragmented, a consideration of the agendas behind the presentation of medieval studies seems timely. We are interested in the phenomenon of discovery as event, narrative, academic and artistic moment, in how discoveries alter how we understand history and shift disciplines. Discoveries often teach us as much about the society doing the discovering as the objects being discovered, in both the field of medieval studies and the broader picture of medieval art reception. As such, it seems appropriate to consider academic discovery and popular discovery side by side. How might one affect the other? What parallels can be drawn between different kinds of discoveries?
This session seeks papers about how such discoveries can be and are engendered, and how contemporary concerns affect the presentation or process of scholarly and popular discovery. Possible topics might include the re-use of medieval or medievalising motifs in subsequent centuries and contemporary culture, medievalising restorations, particular medieval collectors or collections, the appropriation of medieval aesthetics, old objects in new settings, case studies of particular discoveries or rediscoveries, the changing display of medieval artifacts, and how political and geographical agendas affect the reception of medieval art.
Please send a 300-word abstract, together with your CV, to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, by September 15th.