16th annual symposium of the International Medieval Society, Paris
“What is time?” asked St. Augustine. “Who can comprehend this even in thought so as to articulate the answer in words? Yet what do we speak of, in our familiar everyday conversation, more than of time?”
From the diverse reckoning of historical dates to the calculation of the date of Easter and the elaboration of the liturgical calendar, medieval scholars counted time. The movement of the bodies in the night sky allowed medieval viewers to calculate the hour, and so did such instruments as the sundial, the water clock, the candle clock, and eventually the mechanical clock. Architects, sculptors, illuminators, and artisans strove to represent time iconographically in different media, and complex programs of images employed allegorical or anagogical relations in order to interweave narratives. Narrative writers experimented with ways to represent the passage of time and organize narrative action, while lyric poets used patterned repetition to turn time back on itself. In the domain of musical notation, late medieval theorists developed different ways of indicating rhythm, a phenomenon whose absence from earlier notation, such as that of vernacular monophony, has inspired debates among modern scholars.
In the medieval monastic context, time consisted of nested cycles that determined daily, monthly, and annual practice by building concrete associations between time and types of labor, reading, and eating. In this, time not only corresponded to, but was a feature of, a material world that could be transcended through contemplation. For their part, philosophers and theologians reflected on the points of articulation between different temporalities: the linear and finite time of human life, the cyclical time of the liturgy, the eschatological time of Salvation.
Today, historians ask with Jacques Le Goff, “Must we chop up history into slices?,” and some question the traditional period markers that separate Antiquity from the Middle Ages and the Middle Ages from the Renaissance, as well as the effects of that periodization for conceptualizing the historical object. How, therefore, can we best reflect on duration, on the event, on the moment? How can we reflect on the experience of time’s dilation, or of its depth?
For its 16th annual symposium, the International Medieval Society Paris invites scholarly papers on any aspect of time in the Middle Ages. Papers may deal with the experience or exploitation of time, its reckoning or measuring, its inscription, its theorization, or the question of how or why or whether we should demarcate the “Middle Ages.” Papers focusing on historical or cultural material from medieval France or post-Roman Gaul, or on texts written in medieval French or Occitan, are particularly encouraged, but compelling papers on other material will also be considered.
The annual symposium of the International Medieval Society Paris is an interdisciplinary, international, bilingual meeting of faculty, researchers, and advanced graduate students. We welcome submissions in French or English from art history, musicology, studies of ritual or liturgy, history of dance, literature, linguistics, philosophy, theology, anthropology, history, history of science and technology, or archaeology. An abstract of no more than 300 words (in French or English) for a paper of 20 minutes should be sent, along with a CV, to [email protected] by 30 November 2018. Abstracts will receive a preliminary blind review before the final selection and should give a clear idea of the topic and anticipated argument of the paper. Presenters will be notified of their selection in January 2019.
IMS-Paris Graduate Student Prize:
The IMS-Paris is pleased to offer one prize for the best paper proposal by a graduate student. Applications should consist of:
- a symposium paper abstract
- an outline of a current research project (PhD dissertation research)
- the names and contact information of two academic referees
The prize-winner will be selected by the board and a committee of honorary members, and will be notified upon acceptance to the Symposium. An award of 350€ to support international travel/accommodation (within France, 150€) will be paid at the symposium.