Bi-Annual Conference



Barnard College’s twenty-fourth Medieval and Renaissance Conference

Saturday December 6, 2014

The conference organizers seek proposals for papers on issues of textual materiality in the medieval and Renaissance periods. This topic includes both the material upon which words are transmitted (parchment, paper, wood, marble, bodies, etc.), as well as the inscribed object’s visual aspects (illustrations, etc.). Interdisciplinary at its core, this conference examines not only the intersection of literary studies and art history, but also addresses central concerns of the history of science, history of law, aesthetic philosophy, museum conservation, and book history.


Confirmed keynote speakers:

-Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak (History, NYU)

-Peter N. Miller (Cultural History and Dean, Bard Graduate Center)


We encourage submissions on all topics related to the conference theme. Possible panels might include, but are not limited to the following:


·      Anachronic Texts. This panel would consider material texts that juxtapose or even superimpose different time periods (for example, the palimpsest)

·      The Incunabulum. The materiality of the word in texts printed pre-1501

·      Tablets and Inscriptions: How tablets, architectural façades and other non-book surfaces become sites of inscription

·      Public Words: The materiality of words in public spaces, such as on monuments, stages, etc.

·      Word, Image, and the Arts of Memory. The use of images in texts addressing the arts of memory

·      Defaced Pages: The evidential and interpretive interest of texts marked by censorship and various forms of use.

·      Objects of the Law: Legal authority and its material forms, such as seals, etc.

·      Questioning the Materialist Turn. A forum for debating theoretical and philosophical problems of a materialist approach to artworks.

·      Mapping the Word and the World. The presence of words, cartouches, and other textual objects in medieval and Early Modern cartography.

·      The Digital Archive. Advantages and problems of the digitized archive, which makes material texts more widely available—but only through, arguably, effacing the materiality of the material text.


This conference is organized by Professors Christopher Baswell, Rachel Eisendrath, and Phillip John Usher, together with other members of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at Barnard College, Columbia University.


Please send 300-word abstract by February 28, 2014, to the conference organizers:




The twenty-third Medieval and Renaissance Conference at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York City.

Saturday December 1, 2012

Full the full-size PDF program of the conference, click here.

All attendees must register.