Call for papers - Materiality and Meaning: Engagement with medieval objects

Materiality and Meaning: Engagement with medieval objects

Call for Papers for the International Medieval Congress 2019 at the University of Leeds,
1 – 4 July 2019

This session proposes to explore how medieval objects are experienced and understood as material culture. Over the last three decades, theoretical approaches have been developed, which consider different aspects of objects and their materiality. Within archaeological and anthropological studies, these include Object Biography Theory, which places the object centre stage and explores its ‘life’; to Meshwork and Entanglement theories, which argue that everything, including objects, is equal and cannot survive without inputs and outputs, thereby helping to create material culture. Likewise, approaches to material forms of engagement within museum studies have also investigated the experiential nature of the interaction between humans and objects, considering the role of the senses, emotions and feelings.

Drawing on intellectual, sensory and emotional forms of engagement, objects such as archaeological remains and artefacts; relics; documents and archives; and textiles and embroideries, for example, can provide meaning for those who come into contact with them. These encounters range from the moment of their creation, through their continued use and reuse, to their re-discovery (if, for instance, deposited or lost in the archaeological record), and preservation and use today in museums, archives and other settings.

We are seeking papers which explore engagement with the material forms of objects at one or several of these different stages in their lifecycles including, for example, excavation, conservation and preservation activities, museum and archive practice, scholarly encounters with material culture, or engagement with broader audiences through exhibitions, events or educational programmes. The papers do not have to be theoretical in nature; indeed, we encourage people to include proposals that focus on practical and sensory engagement with objects and their materiality.

Original proposals are welcome for twenty-minute papers. Please submit a working title and a 250-word abstract by 10 September 2018 to Dr Alexandra Makin at

For information relating to the Congress, including information about fees and bursaries, please see