Changes in Fashion in the Middle Ages - Abstracts due Feb. 2, 2015

full name / name of organization: 
UC Santa Barbara Medieval Studies Program

University of California, Santa Barbara

Center for Medieval Studies Graduate Student Conference

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Call for Papers: "Changes in Fashion in the Middle Ages"

Keynote Speaker: Professor Maureen C. Miller, Department of History, UC Berkeley

"ché l'uso d'i mortali è come fronda

in ramo, che sen va e altra vene."

"The custom of men is as leaves on a branch,

some of which go and others come."

Dante Aligheri, Paradiso, XXVI, 137-138

Change is inevitable in a period as long as the Middle Ages. Changes in dress, surely, but also political changes as kingdoms and dynasties rise and fall, changes in ritual as Christianity's influence waxes and heterodox thought comes and goes, changes in aesthetic preferences as artists of all varieties develop new colors, media, and techniques. As we currently struggle to exchange entrenched biases for new attitudes and to adapt to changing modes of information dissemination, the plethora of medieval "Changes in Fashion" provides an opportunity to critically engage with the intersections of history, literature, art, and religion.

The UC Santa Barbara Medieval Studies Graduate Student Conference (April 25, 2015) on "Changes in Fashion" looks to analyze fashion at its broadest, spanning not simply clothes and literary genres, but questions of materiality, techniques, politics, and courts. We invite 250-300 word proposals for 15-20 minute papers—in English, French, Italian, or Spanish—which take "changes in fashion" as their point of departure.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

- Political fashions

o changes in governing bodies and methods

o attitudes toward individuals, intellectual movements, and/or religion

o patronage and censorship

o civic ritual

o how the political and cultural fashion each other

- Texts

o textual representation of self and other in one or several genres, including didactic texts, poems, proto-novels, political/parliamentary meetings, elegies, sermons

o changes in modern approaches to medieval texts

o trends in popular literature

- Aesthetic

o city planning, public space

o painting, sculpture, architecture

- Travel

o including pilgrimage, as a fashionable undertaking

o traveling manuscripts and knowledge, e.g. Arabic medical knowledge's arrival and influence in Western Europe

- Trade

o in the Mediterranean and/or from the East, e.g. the Silk Road

o pirates and piracy

o exotic animals, courts, and menageries

- Food

o culinary fashions

o changes in diets and medicinal knowledge

o introduction of foreign foods such as spices, oranges, tea, dates

- Technological innovations

o material changes as in the making of the book

o stage-craft (scenery, props, etc.)

o agricultural technology and methods

o artistic media and modes

- Language

o shifts in names and place names between languages and/or over time

o learning of secondary languages

- Clothing

o as a manifestation of court ritual and protocol

o its role in royal entry processions and political identity

o its representation in illuminations

o clothing's link to textile production

o cross-dressing

The plenary speaker this year will be Maureen C. Miller (UC Berkeley). Professor Miller explores the extraordinary capacity of individuals and societies for change, using the rapid transformation of Europe over the eleventh and twelfth centuries as a lens to interrogate contemporary understandings of life choices and the social, economic, political, and cultural forces conditioning them. Her most recent publication is Clothing the Clergy: Virtue and Power in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014).

This conference is open to all scholars of the medieval period. Please submit your name, email, university, and departmental affiliation with your abstract of 250-300 words to the conference committee at by February 2nd, 2015.