Histories, things, and anthropological approaches – materiality and gender in the Medieval and Early Modern Studies – Call for contribution

Workshop: Histories, things, and anthropological approaches –

materiality and gender in the Medieval and Early Modern Studies

April 19.–20.2017 – CESCM

For a decade now, medieval and early modern studies have been influenced by the so-called anthropological turn. This has revived the long tradition in the Medieval studies of researching the Middle Ages as ‘another culture’, distant from our own, but also prompted new attentiveness to material things, giving agency to them as objects not only used by people, but actually working together with people. A renewed concern with the presence and efficacy of crafted things falls onto the ontology of images and challenges such oppositions as object-subject or animate-inanimate. Gender historical approach, in turn, invites the scholars to think about men and women as agents, or how men and women or feminine and masculine were presented in the medieval times.

The workshop aims to look at different phenomena across Medieval and Early modern Europe from the perspective of how anthropology has affected the research, and how both the concepts of materiality and gender have been intertwined to this – where has this ‘turn’ placed us? How could different approaches have fruitful discussion over the disciplinary discourses? We wish in particular to encourage a discussion of methods and means of analysing gender and material culture within multiple research materials carried on by various disciplines. By emphasizing active dialogues between history, archaeology, anthropology, art history, theology and other close disciplines we seek to minimize the gap between the approaches in use. What problems we face with multidisciplinary analyses? How to get them done in the first place? What methods pertaining to natural sciences are we in need of?

We invite proposals for presentations (ca. 300 words). The deadline for proposals is February 28th and they should be sent to anu.z.lahtinen@helsinki.fi. Meals are covered by the workshop and travel expenses are covered for members of the GeM project.

Material culture, gender and multidisciplinary analyses in medieval studies (GeM) is a series of workshops funded by Suomen Kulttuurirahasto (Finnish Cultural Fund). The aim is to bring  together scholars on various phases of their careers who are interested in developing gender perspective and issues related to material culture and to medieval and early modern studies. Project is connected to the Medieval Gender History Network, a Nordic network aiming to enhance co-operation between scholars interested in gender and the Middle Ages in the North of Europe (see the theme issue in the web journal Mirator). The project is led by prof. Anu Lahtinen (University of Helsinki) with co-organizers, assistant prof. Visa Immonen and senior lecturer Elina Räsänen (University of Helsinki).

The first workshop in Copenhagen (June 15–17, 2016) was organized together with Louise Berglund (University of Örebro) and Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen (National Museum, Copenhagen). This workshop aimed to inspire discussion of how ecclesiastical spaces were constructed and used by women as well as men, and how the various artefacts expressed and mediated the participation and agency of the medieval users.

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