Modalities of Premodern Media

deadline for submissions: 
September 19, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
The Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association - The Ohio State University
contact email: 


Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association

The Ohio State University 


Call For Papers

Modalities of Premodern Media

October 22 & 23, 2021 

Columbus, Ohio

Keynote Speaker: Whitney Trettien, Assistant Professor of English (The University of Pennsylvania) – Delivery Mode: TBD

Access to premodern media is ultimately predicated on the existence and impact of the archive. Present technologies broaden the opportunity for scholars and researchers to study medieval and renaissance medialities. The study of premodern media must include careful consideration of the transmission and distribution of information and knowledge through different modalities throughout the premodern era. Those Modalities include material texts (literary works, commonplace books, pamphlets, chapbooks, etc.), visual and graphic arts (maps, charts, woodcuts, illustrations, illuminations, textiles, paintings, drawings), and music (soundscapes, hymns, ballades). Studying premodern modalities offers us a more complete understanding of the social, historical, and cultural production, circulation, reception, and consumption of media during the medieval and renaissance periods.

The efforts to diversify the availability of and access to premodern archives (especially through digitalization) have been gathering steam for some time. While the COVID-19 pandemic halted accessibility of tangible artifacts altogether, it has enabled us to dramatically reconceive our very notion of the archive itself. In doing so, scholars have ultimately diversified, accommodated, and improved access for researchers—especially for marginalized groups.

The Ohio State University's 8th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Symposium invites submissions by graduates from all disciplines to consider premodern media, in all its forms, at this year's conference. We additionally encourage graduate students to submit alternative research projects in formats other than traditional conference papers, though we by no means prohibit traditional conference work. Topics of interest may include subjects such as theorizing the archive or library, technology and the digital humanities, history of the book studies, manuscript studies, cultural exchange and performance, material art history, and more.

Some of the questions this year's symposium asks:

  • How do scholars and researchers interpret premodern media and its cultural and textual transmission?
  • In what ways do materiality and mediality contribute to the transmission of knowledge and culture in the premodern era?
  • How can studying the modalities of medieval and early modern media enhance our understanding of the cultural and technological histories of media? 
  • How can 21st-century scholars improve access to archival material of premodern media?
  • How can we generate research projects from digital collections available in institutional and independent research libraries? And how can we reimagine archival space in the digital world? 

Submission Guidelines: 

We invite submissions by graduate students from all disciplines with particular attention paid to proposals that examine the specific theme: “Modalities of Premodern Media”. This symposium will be held in an online format from Friday to Saturday, October 22 and 23 , 2021. Abstracts of no more than 250 words and panel proposals should be sent to by Friday, Aug 20th, 2021. All submissions should include a separate document containing the title of the paper/ presentation/ project as well as a short bio (~100 words) that includes the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Please note that applicants are restricted to one abstract per person with approximately a 20-minute oral presentation.