Education and Ignorance: the Use of Knowledge in the Medieval World

full name / name of organization: 
The University of Manchester Medieval Postgraduate Conference

John Rylands Library, Deansgate
Monday 6 - Tuesday 7th June 2011


Modern historiography has often depicted the Middle Ages as a period of ignorance, dogma and superstition– a period in which knowledge stagnated and education was both restricted to a privileged minority and dominated
by the institutional and ideological authority of the Church. From the Carolingian Renaissance and the rise of the medieval universities to the condemnations of heretical teachings and the intellectual and spiritual
ferment of the Reformation, the reality about education and knowledge in the medieval world is undoubtedly far more complex and contested than this picture suggests.

This two day conference seeks to explore that reality
through a diverse range of disciplines and across the full historical span of the period. We aim to address the questions – How was education theorised, institutionalised and practiced throughout the middle ages? How was knowledge controlled, transmitted and transformed? and To what uses were they put both by established ecclesiastical and feudal powers and the
social and religious formations that opposed them?

With these questions in mind, we invite proposals for twenty minute papers from postgraduates and early career researchers on a variety of topics including but, not limited to:

- the losses and restoration of Classical knowledge in the early Middle Ages
- the development of the medieval universities
- the educational role of the monasteries and the mendicant orders
- scholasticism, scepticism and humanism
- heresy, censorship and reformation ideas about education
- didacticism in medieval literature, drama, art and architecture
- material culture and education: manuscripts, libraries, printing etc.
- theories and methods of learning – memory and scriptural exegesis
- unconventional and popular learning –alchemy, folk, and occult practice

Please e-mail abstracts of 250-300 words to along with your name, affiliation and title of paper. All queries should also be directed to this address.

The deadline for submission is 31st March 2011. Selection of papers will be made by 15th April.

Further information concerning the conference will soon be announced on our website: