Call for papers: The Art of Borders - Examining the meaning and function of borders, edges and thresholds in early medieval art

Call for Papers for the International Medieval Congress 2020 at the University of Leeds,
6 – 9 July 2020

This session explores how medieval art incorporated, established or broke down borders in both real and metaphorical forms as understood through material objects. Drawing on physical, visual and conceptual engagement with borders and edges, the material forms of painting, manuscript illumination, stained glass, metalwork, sculpture, textiles and embroidery are all understood to use physical and imaginary borders to provide meaning and impart messages for those who came into contact with them. These encounters ranged from the moment of their creation, through their continued use and reuse, to their deposition or preservation and use today in the settings of contemporary scholarship and public display. We are seeking papers which explore the use of visual, metaphorical and conceptual borders in medieval art, exploring how these were understood and used both by early medieval society, and from a current scholarly perspective. Paper proposals are encouraged that focus on practical and sensory engagement with art, as well as those speaking from theoretical standpoints.

Paper topics might include but are not limited to:

  • How physical borders and edges create and craft meaning.

  • How the development of Visual Physiology has been used to help us explore the use and meaning of art in earlier societies.

  • What it means to draw attention to the edges of things in early medieval art.

  • The transformative and/or transgressional nature of borders and edges

  • The symbolic or material significance of borders on visual objects

Original proposals are sought for twenty-minute papers. Please submit a working title and a 250-word abstract by1st September 2019 to Dr Alexandra Makin at and Dr Meg Boulton at

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