International Congress on Medieval Studies May 10-13, 2012: Special Session: Gifts and Gift-Exchange in the Later Middle Ages

full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Harper

Historians, anthropologists, literary critics, and other scholars of
medieval Europe are researching and reflecting on gifts and gift
exchange in a variety of new and interesting cultural contexts. At
the same time, the work of theorists, philosophers, and theologians
such as Marcel Mauss, Jacques Derrida, and John Milbank on the nature
of "the gift" continues to exert influence on ideas of gift-giving
outside the medieval period(s). This panel seeks to draw together
scholars across disciplinary boundaries to share insights about gifts
and gift exchange in a variety of contexts. Papers might examine one
or more of the following questions: what constitutes a gift? What
sorts of objects, texts, or abstractions circulated in late medieval
gift exchanges? In what social networks did they circulate, and what
sorts of social, political, and/or cultural work did the exchanges (or
the objects themselves) perform? What motivations did givers or
receivers have for participating in these exchanges, and were they
always willing? How did the concept of gift exchange interact with
the emerging European market economy? What theoretical approaches to
this topic yield the most fruitful results? We also welcome papers
that respond to questions raised during the series of panels on this
topic the year at Leeds.

Please send paper proposals of no more than 300 words, along with the
completed Participant Information Form (available at,
to, no later than September 15, 2011.