The Politics of Pleasure: Social Networking in the Middle Ages

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
UC Santa Barbara Medieval Studies

Social networking in the Middle Ages, much as today, was a means for forging political relationships and alliances. From tournaments to banquets to bedrooms, these encounters crossed geographic and national borders, drawing together a variety of figures with distinct agendas and desires. The planning committee for UC Santa Barbara’s Medieval Studies Graduate Conference seeks papers that explore the varied and complex ways in which pleasure, leisure, competition, entertainment, friendly feelings, and play facilitated the very serious and often obnoxious business of politics - relaxing boundaries to allow for their renegotiation. Papers that engage with the myriad aspects of politics from any discipline are welcome, and can include a diverse set of approaches, such as:

  • Boundary transgressions: political, ethnic, class, religious, cultural, gendered, linguistic
  • Friendship, familia, strategies for establishing trust in political contexts
  • Women's roles in political negotiation
  • Patronage as politics
  • The role of art and literature in establishing/breaking boundaries
  • Travel narratives, pilgrimages, trade routes
  • Court visits, royal progresses, diplomacy
  • Sites of social interaction: gardens, feasts, games, the hunt, etc.

Topics are not limited to the European/Western contexts; examinations of any medieval geographical context are encouraged. Paper submissions are due by Feburary 15, 2018, and should include your name, email, university, and departmental affiliations with an abstract of 250-300 words.

The conference will feature a keynote talk by Christine Chism, Professor of English at UCLA

Please email your papers to: