Annual Leeds Monasticism Conference

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16-17 May 2014,

University of Leeds

Monastic Myths: Origins, Identities, Legacies

* Call for Papers *

deadline 28 February 2014

Those involved in shaping forms of religious expression in the Middle Ages had recourse to a powerful tool: the creation of origin narratives. Monastic, mendicant, canonical and semi-regular congregations self-consciously looked to the past for models to emulate, appropriated traditions to present to contemporaries, and established precedents to edify future generations. Within communities, origin stories were crafted by male and female religious to strengthen their position as the spiritual vanguard of Christendom, as well as to legitimise certain forms of religious life. Similarly, external factors played their role in myth formation, either through wider ecclesiastical policy or through the active participation of interested lay people. These stories can be seen in a variety of media, and were expressed as easily by depictions on the walls of religious houses and in paintings as they were through written works such as hagiography and chronicles.
Topics for discussion include:
  • Historical context of identity formation and the role of authorial and artistic agency.
  • Manifestation of origin stories in material culture, e.g. relics, architecture, art, landscapes imagined and concrete.
  • Dissemination of origin stories: means, extent, duration, reconstruction, appropriation.
  • Socio-political functions of monastic origin stories; basis for claims to power, status and/or property, legitimacies.
  • Contemporary perception of origin stories in relation to the past.
  • Gender as a discourse in origin stories; the treatment of gender.
  • Post-Reformation perspectives on and use of origin stories.
  • Monastic origin stories in medievalism and historiography, particularly considerations of the origin story as a historicised or ahistorical discourse.
This event will be held over two days at the University of Leeds. We welcome contributions from postgraduates and early-career researchers of all disciplinary backgrounds. Interested parties should send a 300 word abstract for a twenty minute paper. Alternative proposals for one-hour sessions, such as joint papers or panelled debates, are most welcome. Proposals should be submitted no later than 28 February 2014.
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