Welcome to the IMC 2017

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted to present to you the programme for the International Medieval Congress 2017. This summer’s Congress will welcome over 2,100 actively-involved participants, with its academic programme featuring a total of 645 sessions and round table discussions.

2017 is the IMC Year of Otherness. The ‘other’ seems to be omnipresent in contemporary society and the daily media. Having an understanding of what ‘the other’ meant in the past, and the nature of medieval interactions with the other says a lot about both modern and medieval society. In total, we have 238 sessions and round table discussions relating to the special thematic strand, including foreign peoples and countries, concepts and perceptions of otherness, as well as non-human otherness. Our thanks go to Hans-Werner Goetz (Historisches Seminar, Universität Hamburg) who expertly and patiently overcame technical challenges to bring a fascinating mix of sessions together.

We are delighted to welcome the following keynote speakers: the Congress will open with a double lecture by Nikolas P. Jaspert (Historisches Seminar, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg) and Eduardo Manzano Moreno (Instituto de Historia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Madrid), with the first speaker focusing on ‘The Mediterranean Other and the Other Mediterranean: Perspective of Alterity in the Middle Ages’ and the second on ‘Drawing Boundaries: Inclusion and Exclusion in Medieval Islamic Societies’. On Monday lunchtime, Felicitas Schmieder (Historisches Institut, FernUniversität Hagen) will continue with ‘The Other Part of the World for Late Medieval Latin Christendom’. Then, on Tuesday lunchtime, Sylvia Huot (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge) will present a lecture on ‘Other Sexualities: The ‘Natural’ and the ‘Unnatural’ in Medieval French Ovidian Narratives’.Finally, on Wednesday evening a major round table discussion will focus on ‘The Medieval Concept of Otherness’.

In addition to the special focus on Otherness we are pleased to announce a number of special lectures and events. We are delighted to welcome back the Early Medieval Europe lecture, with this year’s speaker, Wendy Davies (formerly University College London) exploring ‘Gardens and Gardening in Early Medieval Spain and Portugal’.

We also welcome back the Medieval Academy of America for their annual lecture which will be given by Jeffrey J. Cohen (Department of English, George Washington University, Washington, DC) on ‘Outside Noah’s Ark: Sympathy and Survival as the Waters Rise’.

Also new this year are:

The biggest changes for 2017 will be that the Michael Sadler Building will be unavailable (due to building work); this results in the use of two new buildings, the Maurice Keyworth Building and the Fine Arts Building, for daytime sessions. At time of writing, the Leeds University Union refurbishment works are ongoing, but are scheduled to be completed by April. This will provide the IMC with an all new setup of venues and facilities.

Four drop-in sessions at the Treasures Gallery in conjunction with the University Library’s Special Collections, sampling some of the riches of the collections’ holdings.

A combat workshop in conjunction with ‘Kunst des Fechtens’ (KDF) International, a masterclass in historical fiction, directed by Justin Hill, as well as a hands-on introduction to astrolabes, by Kristine Larsen.

Once again, the Leeds University Union Medieval Society (founded in 2013) will be running a series of more or less formal medieval (inspired) activities - from games sessions and film showings, to the now increasingly traditional ‘medieval’ pub quiz. One of my all-time favourite ‘medieval’ films, The Seventh Seal, will make a special appearance on the year of the 60th anniversary of its release – in conjunction with the Leeds International Film Festival.

On the last day of the Congress we will have our ‘Making Leeds Medieval’ events around University Square where - once again - we will bring a number of medieval-inspired activities to the main campus, with displays of crafts and local produce as well as live entertainment including music, combat displays, re-enactment, and still more falconry. The celebration will conclude in an informal dance workshop under the guidance of the Arbeau Dancers with musical accompaniment by Peter Bull.

This year’s programme of events offers a wide range of choice including concerts by Trouvère: ‘The Franks in the East: Music for a Medieval Prince’, Anne Lister telling ‘The Tale of Jaufre’, Thomas Schallaböck performing ‘Minnesang as a Mirror of Otherness’, and a film adaptation of the ‘Second Shepherds’ Play’. Our programme for excursions includes visits to various priories in the East Riding (Kirkham, Old Malton, and Bridlington), Ripon Minster, Helmsley Castle, the Royal Armouries Museum, Stonyhurst College, Lincoln Cathedral and its Bishops’ Palace, Gawain Country and Lud Church, and Knaresborough Castle. There will be three Professional Development Workshops on Friday, 7 July, one about ‘How Medievalists Can Engage a Wider Audience’ - co-ordinated by Peter Konieczny (Medievalists.net), one concerning ‘Central Government, Courts, Commemoration, and the Church: Medieval Records and the National Archives’ co-ordinated by Sean Cunningham (The National Archives: Public Record Office, Kew), and another on ‘Fragments and Bindings from Ripon Cathedral’ - co-ordinated by Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America) and Rhiannon M. Lawrence-Francis (Special Collections, Leeds University Library).

The main framework for 2017 will be similar to previous years:

Session rooms: all day-time sessions will take place in six main University buildings (Parkinson Building, Emmanuel Centre, Baines Wing, Fine Arts Building, Maurice Keyworth Building, Leeds University Union, Stage@Leeds, and University House); all evening round table discussions and receptions will take place at Leeds University Union, University House, and Stage@Leeds. Evening keynotes will take place in the Great Hall.

Accommodation and meals: we have secured a number of additional accommodation sites providing options for all budgets and requirements - all the details can be found on pp. xi-xxiii. However, it is highly likely that the most popular options will sell out quickly, and we recommend early booking to ensure your preferred accommodation option.

Bookfair: The main bookfair will take place in the Parkinson Court - all in one place and at the heart of the Congress. The Second-Hand and Antiquarian Bookfair, the Craft Fair, and the Historical and Archaeological Societies’ Fair will take place in the Leeds University Union Building and University Square.

Tea & Coffee: Complementary tea & coffee will be served all throughout the Congress in the Marquee on University Square and at key break times in the Parkinson Court, the Maurice Keyworth Building, and University House.

Social space: The two venues for IMC Delegates during the day time are the Marquee and the Old Bar. During the evening (and all day on Sunday) we recommend the Marquee - which will be of exclusive use to IMC delegates. The Leeds University Union Old Bar will be open for IMC Delegates throughout the Congress with late licenses from Sunday to Wednesday evening. The Old Bar will also have the traditional Congress Ale on tap!

We would also like to draw your attention to our newly-refined policy on dignity and mutual respect introduced for the IMC 2017 to provide a comfortable working environment to enable delegates to make the most of the academic, networking, and social opportunities that the IMC offers.

The ‘Call for Sessions and Papers’ for IMC 2018 (2-5 July 2018), with its special thematic strand Memory, can be found here. 2018 is also the year of the 25th Congress, and we hope to celebrate this achievement and the many ongoing contributions of the IMC to Medieval Studies.

Before closing, a warm farewell and a big thank-you to outgoing Programming and Standing Committee members and IMC staff: Julia Barrow, Hayley Coulson, Paul Freedman, Zoe Popple, and Richard Thomason. Many thanks for all of you for your involvement over the years. Equally, a warm welcome to Natalie Elvin, Hans-Werner Goetz, Emilia Jamroziak, Jennifer Palmer, Sarah Parkin, and Nick Westerman who recently joined various parts of the IMC organisation.

We feel that this year’s programme once again presents a wealth of riches, with a lot to offer for everyone, showing that Medieval Studies is thriving and developing in exciting ways. My colleagues and I look forward to welcoming you to Leeds in July.

Axel E. W. Müller
Director, International Medieval Congress