Cultural and Literary Transmission in the Global Middle Ages (Kalamazoo 2017)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies - Kalamazoo, MI - May 11-14, 2017
contact email: 

Scholarship on the global Middle Ages has flourished in recent years, examining the role that a

global community played in the medieval period. Such work demonstrates the remarkable links

between various civilizations in the medieval period and the extent to which the Middle Ages truly

were a hotbed of trade. Recent scholarship has considered the cultural interactions of trade, literary

transmission, pilgrimage, religious conversion, explorers, colonization, and military expeditions. For

instance, literary scholars have shown that the story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, traveled from

India through texts in Armenian, Arabic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Latin, Russian, and other versions,

including becoming the story of the two Christian saints, Balaam and Josaphat. Building off of this

work, this panel seeks to consider the role of intercultural interactions in the Middle Ages.

This panel seeks entries from all disciplines and invites applicants to interpret “interactions”

broadly. Applicants may consider literary interactions, military, exploratory, cultural, trade, political,

religious, or anything else. Whether investigating the story of Abul-Abbas—the elephant given to the

Carolingian Emperor Charlemagne by the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid—or the spread of coal-

based iron production in eleventh-century China or the tenth-century journey of Ahmad ibn Fadlān

from Baghdad through modern-day Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the camp of the Bulghār khan on the

Volga river, papers may consider a variety of kinds of “interactions” in a globalized medieval period.

How did medieval writers and historians conceive of these interactions? How were these interactions

recorded or remembered? How often was a particular story's genealogy and foreign origins

remembered, for example? What can we say about the trauma caused by these often violent

interactions? How do these interactions help us reconceive of usually static terms such as “culture,”

“country,” “nation,” and others? How did medieval people see themselves fitting in to the scale of the

“global?” In modern depictions of the medieval world, how have these interactions been forgotten in

the preservation of a white Middle Ages?


Please submit an abstract (preferably 300 words or less) as well as a completed Participant Information Form (found here: to Isabel Stern and Erik Wade (