Call for Papers: Enigma in Medieval Slavic Culture

The Slavic Institute, University of Cologne, Germany, 14-16 November 2019

Deadline: 13 January 2019

“A wise man will understand both a parable and a hidden saying, both wise words and riddles” (Prov. 1:6). These words of King Solomon’s Proverbs had special relevance for the culture of medieval Rus and, more broadly, for the Orthodox Slavs. According to the ninth-century Life of Saint Cyrill, before creating the Slavic letters, the Apostle of the Slavs had solved the riddle of the inscription on King Solomon’s chalice in the Constantinople Hagia Sophia. The earliest extant book from Rus, dated 1073, consists of riddles embedded in a Byzantine compilation of questions and answers. In Church Slavonic literature “parables and hidden sayings” existed either explicitly, in questions-and-answers, theological commentaries, or implicitly, inserted in different narratives. The riddles, however, appeared not only textually, but also visually. A remarkable phenomenon of the fifteenth century is the appearance of novel, extremely complex and barely comprehensible images in Russian art, often accompanied by written commentaries. In 1553 an icon-debate erupted in Moscow, because “parables” had replaced the icons of Christ and the saints in the Kremlin churches. Riddles thus had primary relevance in medieval Russian and Orthodox Slavonic epistemology, cognition and learning.

The last decades have seen the appearance of hermeneutical and semiotic approaches in historical studies as a response to the emerging problems of obscurity and incomprehensibility of texts and images in medieval Rus. To decipher textual and visual evidence and to decode phenomena of everyday life or symbols of power, they applied innovative methodologies inspired by hermeneutics, semiotics, literary structuralism, phenomenology and iconology. Not only texts and objects of art, but also historical phenomena have been studied, including liturgical and para-liturgical rites, processions or gestures that convey complex symbolical meaning and have historical significance. Despite their relevance for modern historiography the problems of medieval riddles have never been subject of specific analysis in early Slavonic studies. This interdisciplinary conference aims to create a forum for discussion between scholars of different disciplines: Slavonic and Byzantine philology, history, theology, as well as art history. Through case studies across disciplinary and medial boundaries, it aims to find methodologies by which medieval enigmas, both textual and visual, can be deciphered. It seeks to identify their common characteristics, but also their transformation across space and time.

The conference’s main topics and research questions include but are not limited to the following problems:

• Patristic allegorical exegesis and its implications for medieval Orthodox Slavic culture
• “Questions-and-answers” in Slavic literature
• Liturgy and enigma
• Riddles and learning in Slavia Orthodoxa
• Enigma and the semiotics of medieval Russian culture
• Decoding medieval Slavic texts
• Riddles on Byzantine and Post-Byzantine icons and images
• Russian iconographic innovations after the fifteenth century
• Iconography of Russian Old Believer icons

The conference will include a visit to the Icon Museum in Recklinghausen. Depending on the funds available, travel and accommodation expenses will be partly or fully covered. To apply, please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a 20-minute paper, together with a CV, to no later than 13th January 2019.

Conference: Eclecticism at the Edges

Eclecticism at the Edges: Medieval Art and Architecture at the Crossroads of the Latin, Greek, and Slavic Cultural Spheres (c.1300-c.1550)

Princeton University, USA, 5-9 April 2019

In response to the global turn in art history and medieval studies, “Eclecticism at the Edges” explores the temporal and geographic parameters of the study of medieval art, seeking to challenge the ways in which we think about the artistic production of Eastern Europe from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. This event will serve as a long-awaited platform to examine, discuss, and focus on the eclectic visual cultures of the Balkan Peninsula and the Carpathian Mountains, the specificities, but also the shared cultural heritage of these regions. It will raise issues of cultural contact, transmission, and appropriation of western medieval and Byzantine artistic and cultural traditions in eastern European centers, and consider how this heritage was deployed to shape notions of identity and visual rhetoric in these regions that formed a cultural landscape beyond medieval, Byzantine, and modern borders.

For full information, see Note that the symposium is free but reigstration is necessary to guarantee a place.

Conference: Travelling Saints in Byzantium

Newcastle University, 22 February 2019

Travel (in its many forms, ranging from pilgrimage to forced displacement) is a noticeable feature of hagiographic accounts of the Byzantine period. Lives of saints couch diverse stories of geographic mobility, from those of itinerant or vagrant holy men and women, who willingly embrace travel as a way of life and a particular form of humility, to those of displaced monks, who are forcefully driven from their spiritual abodes. Byzantine hagiographic sources thus provide considerable material that would repay investigation within the renewed scholarly interest in Byzantine travel literature. This workshop, therefore, aims at exploring travel in Byzantium in connection to Byzantine ideals of sainthood, as reflected in hagiographic compositions. It brings together early career researchers and senior scholars working on Byzantine literature in general, and especially hagiography, in order to explore and address a set of questions related to monastic mobility.

For more information on the workshop programme and abstracts, please visit

Call for Papers: The Problem of Piracy

The Problem of Piracy: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Plunder by Sea across the World from the Ancient to the Modern, University of Strathclyde, 24-26 June 2019

Deadline: 31 January 2019

The study of piracy brings with it several interpretational problems and questions. As a global phenomenon that has lasted millennia, even defining piracy historically is difficult. Its meaning depended on distinctive legal and customary perceptions of predation at sea by diverse communities, kingdoms, and empires. Scholars have recently engaged with other important questions about piracy and maritime predation: How have acts of maritime predation been perceived in different contexts? In what circumstances did pirates self-identify as pirates? By what means was piracy suppressed? To what extent did different pirate communities engage in alternative political, economic, and social structures? Basically, how should scholars see piracy?

In June 2019, this three-day conference seeks to address these and other “problems” of piracy by bringing together a wide range of postgraduate, early career, and senior researchers who study any aspect of piracy and maritime predation across various chronological, geographical, and disciplinary barriers. Doing so will offer the opportunity to compare and contrast different episodes, interpretations, and perceptions of piracy and maritime predation from the ancient to the modern period.

Possible themes, are not limited to, but include:
– Impact of maritime predation (economic, social, cultural, etc.)
– Perceptions of piracy and maritime predation
– Suppressing piracy
– Law of maritime predation
– Gender and maritime predation
– Image of pirates
– Literature of piracy

We welcome proposals for both individual papers and three-paper panels that discuss any aspect of piracy and maritime predation occurring across the world’s oceans from the ancient to the modern period. Abstracts of 250 words along with a short biographical note should be sent to John Coakley(Merrimack College), Nathan Kwan (University of Hong Kong / King’s College London), and David Wilson (University of Strathclyde) at by 5pm (GMT) on 31 January 2019.

Call for Papers: Deviance: Aspects & Approaches

The 2019 Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, Kellogg College, Oxford, 5-6 April 2019

Deadline: 20 January 2019
We are pleased to open the Call for Papers for the Fifteenth Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature. The conference is aimed at early career scholars and graduate students working in Medieval Studies. Contributions are welcomed from diverse fields of research such as History of Art and Architecture, History of Science, History, Theology, Philosophy, Music, Archaeology, Anthropology, Literature, and History of Ideas. Papers should be a maximum of 20 minutes.

Please email 250-word abstracts to by 20th January 2019. For details, see the full call for papers.

The registration fee (including a wine reception) is expected to be £10 (tbc). There will be a conference dinner; it is hoped that this will cost in the region of £25. All updates and further information, including details of travel bursaries, can be obtained from the conference website:

Call for Papers: 6th Salzburg International Conference on Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia

Center for the Study of the Christian East (ZECO) and the Archaeological Institute of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences / Department of Nestorian Studies, Almaty, Kazakhstan, 20-27 June 2019

Deadline: 1 March 2019

We invite paper proposals on all aspects of Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia. Papers should be original, concise and to the point. They should take 20 minutes to deliver and be presented in English.

Registration: Please download and fill out this reply form including an abstract (100-150 words) and submit it to before March 1, 2019

Registration Fee (mandatory): € 85. This covers lunch, coffee breaks, rent of the conference room, technical facilities, conference folders, photocopies, administration fees etc.

Excursion (Optional): For those who want to participate in our 2-day excursion, there will be a ticket charge of €55 per person. The ticket covers tour bus, admissions, accommodations incl. breakfast.

Extra Information: Kevin White, head of the Department of Nestorian Studies, has written an introduction letter for you to get better acquainted with the newly formed department that has the privilege to host this conference. This letter also gives more information pertaining to the field trips on the 24th and 25th of June. You can view or download a copy of this letter here.

Details regarding payment, visas and hotel bookings can be viewed here.

Call for Papers: Late Antique Textualities

Society for Classical Studies, Washington, D.C., USA, 2-5 January 2020

Deadline: 23 February 2019

Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity
Organizer: Colin Whiting, American School of Classical Studies at Athens

In Latin, textus can mean a piece of weaving. Late antiquity is well thought of as a text or a collocation of texts in which many strands are woven together— strands of the old (the Classical past, old genres, persisting aspects of material culture) and strands of the new (Christianity, new or hybridized written genres, new or hybridized elements in material culture or the built environment). At the meeting of the Society for Classical Studies in Washington, D.C., January 2–5, 2020, the Society for Late Antiquity will sponsor a session on the various textualities in late antiquity.

We are looking for papers on textuality in either written texts or material culture. Papers can consider issues of textuality in late-ancient written texts, e.g., language, intertextuality with prior written texts (pagan or Christian), or even genre. Potential panelists could also propose papers that consider textuality in material culture or the built environment, e.g., aesthetics, building styles, or methods that weave together old and new. We also encourage prospective panelists to construe the term textuality broadly and propose papers that transcend and/or question the options enumerated here.

Abstracts for papers requiring a maximum of 20 minutes to deliver should be sent no later than February 23, 2019 by email attachment to Colin Whiting. All submissions will be judged anonymously by two referees. Prospective panelists must be members in good standing of the SCS at the time of submission and must include their membership number in the cover letter accompanying their abstract. Please follow the SCS’s instructions for the format of individual abstracts here. The submission of an abstract represents a commitment to attend the 2020 meeting should the abstract be accepted. No papers will be read in absentia and the SLA is unable to provide funding for travel to Washington, D.C.

Call for Papers: Armenia & Byzantium: Perspectives on Cultural and Political Relations

Graduate and Early Career Workshop, University of Oxford, 22–23 March 2019

Deadline: 15 December 2018

The ‘Armenia & Byzantium: Perspectives on Cultural and Political Relations’ is a two-day workshop which intends to bring together early career researchers working in the fields of Armenian and Byzantine studies and to give them the opportunity to discuss their research with senior specialists in their field. This workshop will continue the successful collaboration between Oxford and Vienna, which began last year in the University of Vienna with the workshop ‘Armenia & Byzantium without Borders’ convened by Dr Emilio Bonfiglio and Professor Claudia Rapp within the framework of ‘Moving Byzantium: Mobility, Microstructure and Personal Agency’ project.

We are pleased to invite advanced PhD candidates and early career researchers working in the fields of Late Antique, Armenian, Byzantine, and Middle Eastern Studies to submit proposals for 20-minute papers connected with the main topics of Armenian-Byzantine relations with a focus on aspects of political and cultural interactions throughout the Middle Ages. We are particularly interested in new research which explores the participation of the Armenians in the Byzantine world and the Byzantine policies which had a direct influence on the Armenians. Each paper presented at the workshop will be accompanied by a senior scholar’s 10-minute response, followed by a general discussion. The workshop will be inaugurated with the lecture of our keynote speaker, Prof. Christina Maranci (Tufts University).

Limited travel grants will be available to assist those who would otherwise be unable to attend. Paper proposals should be sent by 15th December 2018 to David Zakarian. Applications should include: a) university affiliation; b) graduate level; c) title of the paper; d) abstract (max 250 words); e) CV.

Scientific Committee: Dr. David Zakarian (Oxford), Prof. Theo M. van Lint (Oxford), Dr Emilio Bonfiglio (Vienna), and Prof. Claudia Rapp (Vienna)

Call for Papers: Medieval Italy

7th Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 17-19 June 2019

Deadline: 31 December 2018

We are looking for additional papers and sessions on topics relating to medieval Italy. Current session proposals in need of additional papers include:

– Foundations of Venice in the Early Modern Middle Ages
– Byzantine Influence in Southern Italy (or Exarchate of Ravenna)
– Conflict and Commerce in Northern Italy
– The Communes of Medieval Italy
– Italy in the Medieval Mediterranean

Proposals for papers or sessions beyond those mentioned above are also encouraged. The submission deadline for both sessions proposals and individual papers is December 31.

For more information on the conference and submission instructions, see the conference website at:

For questions specifically related to papers and sessions on Medieval Italy, please contact Philip Mazero ( or Matthew E. Parker (