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Katie Walter, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum
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Inquisitio (‘inquiry’, ‘investigation’) in the later medieval period was one means of investigating crime in general and heresy in particular. Scholarship on medieval inquisition, ranging from Edward Peters’s, Inquisition (1989), to John Arnold’s Inquisition and Power (2001) and Christine Caldwell Ames’s Righteous Persecution (2009), has done much to illuminate its role in continental Europe, not only in combating heresy but also in shaping individuals and communities. However, the place of inquisition in England has not been so clearly established. As has often been noted by historians of the Middle Ages, England occupied a unique position in relation to ecclesiastical developments in medieval Europe, being somewhat outside the immediate influence of Rome and the continent. Our aim is to investigate the role of inquisitio in medieval England and the medieval English imagination, not only by exploring inquisition’s specific legal and pastoral applications, but by examining its more general role as a dialogic mode of inquiry and means of discerning truth. This workshop, which is part of a research project on inquisition and confession in medieval England, is an opportunity to reconsider the standard history and role of inquisitio in medieval England and to explore it not merely as part of a developing ‘Inquisition’ but as part of a broader development in the medieval English consciousness.

Proposals for papers should be sent to Mary Flannery ( or Katie Walter ( by 15 January 2010. We particularly welcome interdisciplinary proposals that address the following questions:

• How do both the historical practice and the constructed idea of inquisition in England differ from those in continental Europe during this period?
• Where are inquisitional discourses located? What are the sources for inquisitional discourse outside of the context of heresy, and in fictional contexts in particular?
• How is inquisition imagined? Can we make claims (as we have for confession) for the role of inquisition in a) creating a sense of self, and b) for generating poetry in later medieval England? What impact do legal and pastoral developments have on fictional inquisition and on literary activity?
• How is the relationship between inquisition and truth imagined in medieval English literature, law, and pastoralia?
• What is the extent of the role of inquisition in legal and pastoral contexts in medieval England? What are its goals? How do they differ from and/or collapse into those of confession?
• Are there medieval roots to the post-medieval concept of ‘The Inquisition’? To what extent does this concept differ (if at all) from medieval discourses and ideas concerning inquisition?

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