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The North Carolina Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Mapping Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

Duke University

February 20-21, 2009

The tenth annual North Carolina Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, a graduate student conference jointly sponsored by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will explore the ways that medieval and early modern individuals and societies mapped, visualized, and conceived of their world in terms of its various spaces. The conference will focus on mapping as a symbolic and physical means through which individual, communal, religious, and cultural encounters were defined. Medieval and early modern mapping takes a variety of conceptual and physical forms: through literary genres such as allegory, travel narratives, and conduct guides, architectural plans and artistic representations, and developing scientific knowledge. The conference also seeks to address how contemporary discourses across disciplines have treated these spaces – conceptual, communal, religious, private, geographical – and their resulting illuminations or misconceptions.

From medieval Beatine maps and Genoese nautical charts to Waldseemuller’s 1507 world map, the physical activity of mapping participated in the translation and transcription of cultural, historical, political, religious, and imaginary encounters. In their articulation of these relationships, maps combined burgeoning scientific and geographical knowledge with a developing system of visual representation. Through literary texts, architecture, historical records, scientific development, and religious narratives, individuals and communities sought to negotiate similar questions of space and representation. Investigating medieval and early modern practices of symbolic, social, and geographic mapping acknowledges the complexity and difficulty of these cultural interactions, both real and imagined. Our conference is also interested in exploring the division often made between medieval and early modern conceptions of their spaces and world. Humanism, its corresponding secularism, and Protestantism are often credited with a remapping of civic, artistic and literary space. The North Carolina Colloquium in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is equally committed to both periods; papers could address either one or both.

We invite papers dealing with various conceptions and practices of mapping space and with the real or perceived changes that occurred between medieval and early modern practices. Paper topics might investigate this theme through a variety of disciplinary lenses, not limited to the following suggestions:
• Mapping as a reflection of cultural encounters
• Ways of symbolic mapping, such as allegory
• Mapping social relations through conduct guides
• Artistic representations (of the New World, Ottoman Empire, etc)
• Technological developments and textual dissemination
• Travel narratives
• Biblical interpretation and its relationship to religious and political encounters
• The mapping of medieval and early modern spaces
• Empire building and exploration
• Medieval and early modern systems of visual representation
• Biology and the mapping of the human body
• The function of material objects as forms of mapping
• The mapping of spiritual realms
• The framework of literary space

Graduate students from various disciplines are encouraged to submit a 250 word abstract by January 5, 2009. Submit abstracts as an attachment to Layla Aldousany at aldousany at gmail.com. The program committee will announce the program in early January.
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