Imitation and Innovation: Uses of the Past in the Medieval and Early Modern World (CFP 14th April; Conference 11th-12th July)

Durham Cathedral interior, by Oliver-Bonjoch (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The annual conference of Durham’s Medieval and Early Modern Student Association takes the theme of Imitation and Innovation: Uses of the Past in the Medieval and Early Modern World. The conference runs in Durham from 11th-12th July, with the call for papers due by 14th April.

The use of the past is a theme which transcends disciplinary boundaries, and has contemporary as well as historical resonance. This is manifested in a physical sense through the moulding of and engagement with landscapes, as well as the manufacture and (re)use of material culture, and in a more abstract sense through the creation and manipulation of memory and identity which form the core of social ideas and mentalities about the world.

This year’s MEMSA Conference will focus on how people in the Medieval and Early Modern World engaged with, understood, and interpreted the past, in order to explore the ways in which they perceived and sought to shape their own world. In doing so, we will also be able to gain a greater awareness of how past worlds still contribute to changing our own present perceptions.

We welcome abstract submissions from postgraduates and early career researchers from any discipline engaged in the study of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, including History, Literature, Archaeology, Theology, Art, Music, Languages, and Culture. Possible presentation themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • (Re)use of landscape, architecture, artefacts, and art
  • Myths, legends and oral tradition
  • Memory, remembering and memorials
  • Perceptions of truth and authority
  • Creation and reworking of historical narratives
  • Translation and adaptation of literary texts
  • Religious and political reform
  • Reform, restoration and revolution
  • Progression, improvement and enlightenment
  • The production of knowledge and networks of learning
  • Links to the ancient world
  • Technological developments
  • Later interpretations of the period, e.g. in film, literature and education
  • Destruction and suppression of peoples and their physical presence

In addition to the panels, the conference will include two keynote addresses, by Dr Helen Smith (University of York, CREMS) and Dr Len Scales (Durham University, Department of History). There will also be an opportunity to take a tour of Durham Cathedral and Castle for any interested delegates. Please send abstracts of 200-300 words to for papers no longer than 20 minutes, by Friday 14th April 2017. For more information, please visit our blog, website, or sponsors’ pages:, and


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