Come Rain or Rhyme: Weather in Medieval Literature at International Medieval Congress 2021 (Leeds, UK)

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Aylin Malcolm (University of Pennsylvania) and Andrew Richmond (Southern Connecticut State University)

Come Rain or Rhyme: Weather in Medieval Literature

International Medieval Congress 2021

(July 5-8, 2021)

University of Leeds 

Everyday weather events provided structure to medieval human life, dictating the schedule of the agricultural year and inspiring a sense of continuity across generations. Dramatic storms, on the other hand, could decimate human and non-human communities alike, reshaping the landscape in ways that frustrated or denied the practice of longstanding traditions – particularly during periods of significant climatic variation, such as the Medieval Warm Period and the beginnings of the Little Ice Age. Popular and academic traditions of meteorological prediction thus developed, while theological authorities read divine will in the vagaries of lightning, wind, and rain. These discourses in turn inspired a variety of literary and artistic reactions to lived realities, including the redeployment of weather within the conventional guises of generic motifs.

This panel seeks to explore the diverse and complex roles of weather in medieval literature, from the mundane to the apocalyptic. Proposals may address textual representations of weather in any language or genre, from metrical poetry to scientific treatises. We also welcome papers that consider the relationships between medieval writing and historical climate patterns.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Storms and apocalyptic weather events
  • Weather, climate, and genre
  • Weather prognostication and prophecy
  • Atmospheric disease transmission; miasma theory
  •  “Weathered” manuscripts; climate and textual transmission
  • Fairies, devils, God, and other weather agents
  • Weather and sensory experience 

Please send queries and abstracts (200–250 words), with a title, two suggested keywords, your mailing address, and your affiliation(s), to Aylin Malcolm ( or Andrew Richmond ( by 1 September, 2020.

Keywords may be chosen from this list: