International Medieval Congress 2017
3-6 July 2017
We are grateful to everybody who has taken the time either to complete our survey or to contact us directly regarding this year’s special thematic strand of ‘Otherness’, which has contributed to an important and valuable debate about diversity and inclusion in medieval studies.
The IMC is committed to creating an open, accessible, and inclusive environment. We are listening to the complex and ongoing discussions surrounding both the IMC and medieval studies as a whole. As part of our review to improve the IMC each year, we have been discussing both short-term and longer term plans to address the lack of diversity and encourage medievalists from under-represented groups.
Our next newsletter will outline some of our plans for the 2018 IMC and beyond and will continue to keep medievalists informed over the coming months.
Aside from the keynote speakers, who are proposed by the co-ordinator of the special thematic strand, every session at the IMC is either proposed by individuals or collated from papers that were submitted individually. We are keen to receive proposals from the widest possible community of scholars, and we would be grateful for any suggestions on how we can encourage this diversity.
The IMC also takes the principles of dignity and mutual respect very seriously, and we are sorry for any offence caused by comments made during the introduction to Monday’s opening lecture. This year we introduced our policy on dignity and mutual respect, which we will be reviewing to find better ways of supporting delegates who wish to report any incidents to IMC staff. We are determined to create and encourage a positive, inclusive event for all medievalists to enjoy.
This year we welcomed over 2,400 medievalists from 56 countries. Next year, at the 25th annual IMC, medievalists from around the world will share their ideas on the special thematic strand of ‘Memory’. We hope these important conversations will help medievalists to keep broadening, deepening, and growing the field of medieval studies. Further suggestions and feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via direct message on Facebook or Twitter.
Axel Müller, Director, International Medieval Congress
Congress Programme 2017: Special Thematic Strand: 'Otherness'
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IMC 2017 News and Updates
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Call for Papers/Sessions - International Medieval Congress 2017
The IMC provides an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of all aspects of Medieval Studies. Paper and session proposals on any topic related to the Middle Ages are welcome. However, every year, the IMC chooses a special thematic strand which – for 2017 – is ‘Otherness’. This focus has been chosen for its wide application across all centuries and regions and its impact on all disciplines devoted to this epoch.
‘Others’ can be found everywhere: outside one’s own community (from foreigners to non-human monsters) and inside it (for example, religious and social minorities, or individual newcomers in towns, villages, or at court). One could encounter the ‘Others’ while travelling, in writing, reading and thinking about them, by assessing and judging them, by ‘feelings’ ranging from curiosity to contempt, and behaviour towards them which, in turn, can lead to integration or exclusion, friendship or hostility, and support or persecution.
The demarcation of the ‘Self’ from ‘Others’ applies to all areas of life, to concepts of thinking and mentalité as well as to social ‘reality’, social intercourse and transmission of knowledge and opinions. Forms and concepts of the ‘Other’, and attitudes towards ‘Others’, imply and reveal concepts of ‘Self’, self-awareness and identity, whether expressed explicitly or implicitly. There is no ‘Other’ without ‘Self’. A classification as ‘Others’ results from a comparison with oneself and one’s own identity groups. Thus, attitudes towards ‘Others’ oscillate between admiring and detesting, and invite questioning into when the ‘Other’ becomes the ‘Strange’.
The aim of the IMC is to cover the entire spectrum of ‘Otherness’ through multi-disciplinary approaches, on a geographical, ethnic, political, social, legal, intellectual and even personal level, to analyse sources from all genres, areas, and regions.
Possible entities to research for ‘Otherness’ could include (but are not limited to):
- Peoples, kingdoms, languages, towns, villages, migrants, refugees, bishoprics, trades, guilds, or seigneurial systems
- Faiths and religions, religious groups (including deviation from the ‘true’ faith) and religious orders
- Different social classes, minorities, or marginal groups
- The spectrum from ‘Strange’ to ‘Familiar’
- Individuals or ‘strangers’ of any kind, newcomers as well as people exhibiting strange behaviour
- Otherness related to art, music, liturgical practices, or forms of worship
- Any further specific determinations of ‘alterity’
Methodologies and Approaches to ‘Otherness’ (not necessarily distinct, but overlapping) could include:
- Definitions, concepts, and constructions of ‘Otherness’
- Indicators of, criteria and reasons for demarcation
- Relation(s) between ‘Otherness’ and concepts of ‘Self’
- Communication, encounters, and social intercourse with ‘Others’ (in embassies, travels, writings, quarrels, conflicts, and persecution)
- Knowledge, perception, and assessment of the ‘Others’
- Attitudes and behaviour towards ‘Others’
- Deviation from any ‘norms’ of life and thought (from the superficial to the fundamental)
- Gender and transgender perspectives
- Co-existence and segregation
- Methodological problems when inquiring into ‘Otherness’
- The Middle Ages as the ‘Other’ compared with contemporary times (‘Othering’ the Middle Ages).
The Special Thematic Strand 'Otherness' was co-ordinated by Hans-Werner Goetz (Historisches Seminar, Universität Hamburg).