Welcome to IMC 2018

Little did I think in 1994 - at the very first IMC - that I would still be here, presenting the Congress programme to you 25 years later.

The IMC 2018 is the 25th Congress. We feel that this a significant milestone worth remembering. Not only has medieval studies developed over the last 25 years, but so too has the IMC. Little did we think then that the IMC would grow to have over 2,500 active participants, or that it would continue to have an astonishingly steady number of delegates new to the Congress year on year. This year’s Congress has record-breaking numbers: in total, the programme lists 2,545 actively involved participants. We are delighted to welcome some of the original staff members back from 1994 and are planning to hold a celebratory party on Wednesday, 4 July 2018.

It is not just the 25th year of the IMC, but also the 50th anniversary of two closely related Leeds institutions: the Institute for Medieval Studies and the International Medieval Bibliography, both initiated in 1967 and instrumental in the setting up and support of the IMC over the years. This milestone provides an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and what challenges lie ahead – you will find a number of sessions and round table discussions throughout the programme.

We felt that this year’s Special Thematic Strand on ‘Memory’ would make a fine special focus for an anniversary year, while having a broader appeal to many more medievalists. ‘Memory’ clearly resonated with delegates, with a record 392 sessions dealing with the many aspects of memory - including forgetting. Congratulations to Lucie Doležalová (Institute of Greek & Latin Studies, Univerzita Karlova, Praha) and Jan Čermák (Department of English, Univerzita Karlova, Praha), who so expertly curated this strand and shaped its programme - a monumental task, fitting for the 25th Congress.

In addition to the many sessions on this special thematic strand, we are delighted to welcome as keynote speakers: Alixe Bovey (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London) who will present a lecture on ‘Historical Present: Fake History, Material Culture, and Collective Misremembering’, Mary J. Carruthers (Department of English, New York University) on ‘But What Are YOU Remembering For?’, Richard Dance (Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge) on ‘Do Words Remember?: The Etymologist versus the Vikings’, Farkas Gabor Kiss (Department for Early Hungarian Literature, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) on ‘The Metaphors They Lived by: Verbal Imagery of Memory in the Middle Ages’, and Jeff Rider (Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Wesleyan University, Connecticut) on ‘I Can’t Remember the Middle Ages’.

The remainder of the IMC programme is certainly not to be overlooked. A further 394 sessions, round table discussions, and workshops deal with many other aspects of the Middle Ages. As every year, the Congress is keen to showcase the widest spectrum of research in medieval studies, and we want to ensure that the special thematic strand does not become an exclusive Congress theme of the year. For 2018, we have created four new strands: Global Medieval Studies, Health & Medicine, Manuscript Studies, and the Mediterranean World, as a reflection of the rise of interest in these areas within the medieval studies communities.

New this year are two more lectures during the Congress. We are delighted to welcome Roland Betancourt (Department of Art History, University of California, Irvine), who will present a lecture on ‘Transgender Lives in Byzantium’. This lecture is intended to be the start of a series highlighting new voices in medieval studies. Also new is a lecture sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes and the Centre for the History of Ibero-America at the University of Leeds. Giles Tremlett (The Guardian / The Economist) will be talking on ‘Black Legends, Bullying Queens, and the Wonders of Moorishland - How Spain Lives Its Medieval Past Today’.

Returning are the annual Early Medieval Europe lecture with Paul Fouracre (Department of History, University of Manchester) on ‘Lights, Power, and the Moral Economy of Early Medieval Europe’, and the annual Medieval Academy of America lecture, with Anne D. Hedeman (Department of Art History, University of Kansas) on ‘History and Visual Memory in the Library of King Charles V of France’. Many thanks to the Medieval Academy and Early Medieval Europe for their continuing support of medieval studies and the IMC.

IMC 2018 also has a record number of round table discussions, and, following public demand, we have incorporated round table discussions into the daytime session slots to allow for more time for discussion. We do want to encourage debate and dialogue, and we are keen to trial the mixture of formats. We will be following your feedback over the year and the IMC, so please let us know your thoughts about these and other developments.

On Friday daytime we are delighted to welcome four different Career Development Workshops:

  • Organised and sponsored by Medievalist.net - a workshop on ‘7 Ways a Medievalist Can Earn Income outside Academia’
  • Organised and sponsored by The National Archives - a workshop on ‘Medieval Records and the National Archives’
  • Organised and sponsored by the Royal Armouries - a workshop and excursion on ‘Medieval Military Effigies in West Yorkshire’
  • In addition to the wide-ranging academic programme, we are pleased to have workshops, concerts, and theatrical performances from Sunday to Thursday. Highlights of the programme include concerts of the music of Oswald von Wolkenstein and of songs from the Ritson Manuscript, as well as workshops on using an astrolabe, goldwork embroidery, Coptic book-binding, and Jewish scribal arts. We are also proud to host dramatic performances of the Deventer Sister-books and Spil von Fünfferley betrachtnussen zur Buß - a 16th-century morality play by Johannes Kolross.

    We also offer specialist excursions to Mount Grace Priory and Jervaulx Abbey, Middleham Castle, Stank Hall, John Rylands Library, Kirkstall Abbey, York Minster, Southwell Minster and Town, and Conisborough Castle. This year, we are particularly proud to present two multi-day excursions, one before the IMC to the early medieval Hadrian’s Wall country, led by Richard Morris (Emeritus Professor of Conflict and Culture, University of Huddersfield) and Ian Wood (Emeritus Professor of Early Medieval History, University of Leeds), and the other just after the IMC 2018 to Medieval Castles and Battlefields of the Midlands (with a special focus on the War of the Roses), led by Kelly DeVries (Professor of History, Loyola University Maryland) and Robert C. Woosnam-Savage (Curator of Edged Weapons, Royal Armouries, Leeds).

    On a practical level, the increase in active Congress participants mean that we have added another building to the mix: the Thackrah Building (adjacent to the Maurice Keyworth Building and within easy walking distance). Back after last year’s refurbishment is the Michael Sadler Building; however, the basement of the Parkinson Building will be refurbished this year. The IMC Bookfair will continue to be in its traditional place in the Parkinson Court.

    We have been working with University bodies on diversity and inclusiveness, and for 2018 will introduce a quiet room and lactation room facilities. We would ask IMC delegates to respect these facilities. We are keen to further improve the diversity and inclusivity of the IMC, and we welcome feedback and input from delegates past, present and future.

    With a record number of delegates in 2018, IMC beds will be in very short supply. We have added additional hotels to our portfolio of accommodation, but would recommend to anyone wishing to stay in IMC accommodation to register as early as possible.

    While this programme mainly focusses on this year’s Congress, I would like to draw your attention to IMC 2019. We have chosen as the special (not exclusive) focus ‘Materialities’.

    Before closing, a warm farewell and big 'thank you' to outgoing Programming and Standing Committee members and IMC staff: Susan Broadbent, Ros Brown-Grant, Keith Busby, Hayley Coulson, Hans-Werner Goetz, Jennifer Palmer, and Nick Westerman. Equally, a warm welcome to Nadia Altschul, Emma Campbell, Pietro Delcorno, Anne E. Lester, Fiona Livermore, Ben Palmer, Dolores López Pérez, Federica Pich, Dominique Stutzmann, and Vanessa Wright. The IMC Committees and staff make the Congress happen, and all of your dedication and hard work make this (and any of the future) Congress(es) possible.

    Keep medievalling!

    Axel E. W. Müller
    Director, International Medieval Congress