Seeing Climate through Medieval Art and Architecture

deadline for submissions: 
September 10, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
ICMA-Student Committee
contact email: 

Call for Papers for ‘ICMA Student Committee’ Session Proposal

International Medieval Congress (IMC 2021) 5-8 July 2021, University of Leeds


Seeing Climate through Medieval Art and Architecture


In keeping with this year’s theme at the Medieval Congress, this session aims to explore medieval objects and buildings created with an awareness of climate. Climate is intimately intertwined with nature and environments, with as much of a profound impact on medieval lives as on ours today. It can be a cooperative partner, nourishing and stimulating growth, or a hostile threat to life—with scorching heat or forbidding storms preventing sustainable human settlement. Medieval climate might be construed as the literal, experiential, or perceived weather, geography, topography, or environment. We are especially interested in medieval awareness of change in climate that impacts well-being, health, and security—similar to effects felt today. How did the Medieval Warm Optimum or Little Ice Age affect the objects of trade or the construction of buildings and towns?


While there is much to be found in written sources on the effects and changes in climate, we hope to organize a session around the traces of climate in the material record of medieval art and architecture. Climate may be grasped through regional differences in architecture—whether through mundane changes in irrigation or the complex physics of buttresses. It can be seen in depictions of weather or landscape, as images reveal attitudes towards both quotidian and extraordinary natural phenomena. Climate can also emerge in the uses of certain materials—like the quality and availability of ivories or the uses of certain types of wood.


Suggested topics may include, but are not limited to:

-        Depictions of weather, nature, landscape, or natural disasters

-        The portability and utility of media as related to climate

-        Variances in architectural form as responses to climate

-        The impact of these artistic choices on people's living experiences in the Middle Ages


Please submit a 250-word proposal for a 15–20-minute paper. Proposals should have an abstract format and be accompanied by a one-page CV, including e-mail and current affiliation. Please notice that this session is primarily intended for graduate students and first-time presenters. Please submit all relevant documents, as PDF or Word.doc, by 10 September, 2020, to both:

Francesco Capitummino, University of Cambridge;

Ziqiao Wang, School of the Art Institute of Chicago;