CEMERS Conference


Medieval Cultural Heritage Around the Globe:
Monuments, Literature, and the Arts, Then and Now


The field of cultural heritage has experienced a great increase in scholarly and media attention in recent years. Events such as the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials have made evident how controversial cultural heritage can be, and the central role it plays in defining communal identities at all levels, from small villages to multi-state entities, such as colonial empires or, more recently, the United States and the European Union. This interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS) at Binghamton University will explore cultural heritage, broadly conceived, as it relates to the global Middle Ages (ca. 500 – ca. 1500). Topics will range from medieval approaches to the cultural heritage inherited or claimed by medieval societies, to the transformation of medieval heritage through the centuries, to the yearning for medieval times that has inspired, in the modern era, the architecture of university campuses, the rebuilding of Japanese castles to assert communal identity, and the revival of traditional crafts and performing arts, among others.

This conference aims to bring together scholars from a range of backgrounds whose work sheds important new light on our relationship with the medieval past. We hope to foster conversations across traditional disciplinary and geographic boundaries about the definitions, cultural significance, and use of cultural heritage in disparate parts of the medieval and modern worlds. How does examining conceptions and problems related to cultural heritage inform our understanding of medieval cultures? How does modern engagement with the medieval past shape debates about power, identity and belonging? What determines how heritage is defined and what merits preservation? What is the state of medieval heritage today?

We invite papers from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives on any topic related to cultural heritage and the Middle Ages, including:

  • Medieval heritage and identity in the early modern and modern worlds
  • Trafficking in and questions surrounding the restitution of cultural artifacts
  • Heritage across borders and global diasporas
  • Cultural heritage sites connected to legends, literature, and theater
  • Pilgrimage and tourism
  • Issues of representation and exclusion
  • UNESCO and the handling of medieval cultural heritage
  • Literature and film tourism at heritage sites
  • Violence, atrocity, and difficult heritage
  • Heritage-making and cultural appropriation
  • Heritage and communities
  • Cultural heritage in the digital world

Click here to view event poster

We are planning for an on-site hybrid conference in Binghamton incorporating both face-to-face meetings and virtual options. We will be monitoring the situation around COVID-19 throughout the conference planning process. More information will be shared in the summer.

Deadline: June 15, 2021

Abstracts for individual papers and sessions are invited. We encourage scholars working in different disciplines to organize panels together. Papers should be 20 minutes in length.

  • Send abstracts and CVs to cemers@binghamton.edu. Please indicate whether you are interested in coming to Binghamton or plan to participate remotely.
  • Contact Roberta Strippoli for more information.

  • Past CEMERS Conferences
    • 2018: Medieval Unfreedoms: Slavery, Servitude, and Trafficking in Humans before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Elizabeth Casteen, organizer
    • 2016: The Pre-Modern Book in a Global Context: Materiality and Visuality, Marilynn Desmond, organizer
    • 2015: Authority and Materiality in the Italian Songbook: from the Medieval Lyrical to the Early-Modern Madrigal, Olivia Holmes and Paul Schleuse, organizers
    • 2014: Boccaccio at 700: Medieval Contexts and Global Intertexts, Olivia Holmes and Dana Stewart, organizers
    • 2011: Trans-Regional Trade and Sartorial Culture: Cartographies of Textiles and Clothing in Medieval and Early Modern Culture
    • 2010: Negotiating Trade, Nancy Um, organizer
    • 2010 Underpinnings: The Evolution of Underwear from the Middle Ages through Early Modernity, student organized
    • 2009 In Vino Veritas: A Symposium on Wine and the Influence of Bacchus from Classical Antiquity through the Eighteenth Century, Karen-edis Barzman, organizer
    • 2008 Venus and the Venereal: Interpretations and Representations from Late Antiquity through the Eighteenth Century, Mary Ellen Faughnam-Kenien and Karen-edis Barzman, organizers
    • 2007 Accademia Dempsiana: Papers in Early Modern Italian Studies in Honor of Charles Dempsey, Karen-edis Barzman, organizer
    • 2006 Theater and the Visual Arts in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Aspects of Representation, Sandro Sticca, organizer
    • 2004 Public Life and Private Conduct: Changing Historical Perspectives across the Early Modern World. A Symposium in Honor of Richard C.Trexler, Karen-edis Barzman, organizer
    • 2004 Science, Literature, and the Arts in the Medieval and Early Modern World, Dana Stewart, organizer
    • 2002 Recovery: Pre modern Responses to Catastrophe and Convulsion, Charles Burroughs, organizer
    • 1999 The Crusades: Other Experiences, Alternate Perspectives, Khalil I. Semaan, organizer
    • 1997 Comparative Colonialism: PreIndustrial Colonial Intersection in Global Perspectives, Charles Burroughs, organizer
    • 1996 Writing Cultures/Making Cultures: Sites, Scenes, and Scenarios of Medieval Studies, Charles Burroughs, organizer
    • 1995 Christine de Pizan: Texts/Intertexts/Contexts, Marilynn Desmond, organizer
    • 1994 Contextualizing the Renaissance, Albert Tricomi, organizer
    • 1993 On the Margins, Robin Oggins, organizer
    • 1992 The Roles of Women in the Middle Ages, Rosmarie Morewedge, organizer
    • 1991 Gendering Rhetorics: Postures of Dominance and Submission in Human History, Richard C. Trexler, organizer
    • 1989 The Cult of Saints in the Middle Ages & Early Renaissance:Formation and Transformation, Sandro Sticca, organizer
    • 1988 Oral Tradition in the Middle Ages, Wilhelm Nicolaisen, organizer
    • 1987 The Renaissance, Mario DiCesare, organizer
    • 1986 The Classics in the Middle Ages, Aldo Bernardo and Saul Levin, organizers
    • 1985 The Bible in the Middle Ages, Bernard S. Levy, organizer
    • 1984 Medievalism in American Culture, Paul E. Szarmach, organizer
    • 1983 Medieval Archaeology, Charles L. Redman, organizer
    • 1982 Persons in Groups: Social Behavior as Identity, Richard C. Trexler, organizer
    • 1981 Social Unrest in the Later Middle Ages, Francis X. Newman, organizer
    • 1980 The Crusades, Robin S. Oggins, organizer
    • 1979 Rome in the Renaissance: The City and the Myth, Mario DiCesare, organizer
    • 1978 Byzantium in the West: Image and Impact, Saul Levin, organizer
    • 1977 The Black Death, Daniel Williman, organizer
    • 1976 Nature in the Middle Ages, Lawrence Roberts, organizer
    • 1975 Islam and the Medieval West, Kalil I. Semaan, organizer
    • 1974 Jewish Culture in the Middle Ages, Paul E. Szarmach, organizer
    • 1973 Witchcraft and the Occult in the Middle Ages, Gayle Whittier, organizer
    • 1972 The Role of the Woman in the Middle Ages, Rosmarie Morewedge, organizer
    • 1971 The Concept of the Hero in the Renaissance, Bernard S. Levy, organizer
    • 1970 The Development of the Medieval Concept, Christopher Reagan, organizer
    • 1969 The Medieval Drama, Sandro Sticca, organizer
    • 1968 Developments in the Early Renaissance, Bernard S. Levy, organizer
    • 1967 The Meaning of Courtly Love, Francis X. Newman, organizer