"'What is bettre than gold?': Economies and Values in the Middle Ages"

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Columbia University Medieval Guild

The Columbia University Medieval Guild is pleased to announce its 21st annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, "'What is bettre than gold?': Economies and Values in the Middle Ages," taking place on 22 October 2010.

The aim of this conference is to explore the interface between medieval economies and societies in both literal and symbolic terms. Monetary exchange was only one of many forms of economic thought and activity in the Middle Ages. On the one hand, the language of the market permeated many other spheres of medieval life, such as spirituality, social relationships, and artistic production. At the same time, non-economic values and non-monetary currencies influenced the market and offered alternative avenues of exchange. We welcome papers from graduate students in all disciplines, in the interests of examining the variety of ways in which economic discourses and practices in the Middle Ages were themselves evaluated, converted, debased, counterfeited, multiplied, circulated, and exchanged.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

poverty and wealth
gift-giving and gift exchange
need and charity
treasure and hoarding
luxury, largesse, and consumption

symbolic capital and cultural currency
social, cultural and artistic exchange
literary and artistic patronage
textual circulation and book production
redemption and spiritual economies

circulation and use of money
debt and usury
investment and credit
currency and coinage
financial techniques (bookkeeping, money-changing, etc.)

commercial and commercialized spaces and communities
trade, markets, and fairs
merchants and merchant culture
guilds and networks (professional, national, etc.)
circulation of objects (commodities and non-commodities)
household economy

finance and institutional administration
labor, prices and wages
commercial law
tithes and benefices
ports and customs

Please send your proposal (no longer than 300 words) for a 15 to 20-minute paper to the organizers at medievaleconomies [at] gmail [dot] com by September 1st 2010. Proposals should include the title of the paper, presenter's name, institutional affiliation (including department), email address, mailing address, telephone number, and any audio-visual equipment needs. Please also indicate if you would be willing to moderate a panel.