Successful Symposium: 'The Future of Medieval Studies'

The IMS hosted the symposium 'The Future of Medieval Studies' at the University of Leeds which produced stimulating discussion about the future of the field.

The IMS hosted the symposium 'The Future of Medieval Studies' at the University of Leeds from 31 May to 1 June 2018, which produced stimulating discussion about the future of the field.

The Future of Medieval Studies

This two-day symposium, hosted by the IMS at the University of Leeds, was held from 31 May to 1 June 2018, and marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Leeds Institute for Medieval Studies (IMS) by exploring current developments in the field. In particular, the symposium asked how Medieval Studies can be more engaged and better reflect the world of the present and the future. 

To answer this question, three closely-connected topics were explored: 


  • The diversity of the Middle Ages
  • The diversity of Medieval Studies
  • The diversity of Medievalists

Delegates from around the world and a variety of backgrounds attended the conference, resulting in innovative approaches and perspectives. Some papers were given in a more traditional format, whereas others involved multiple presenters and/or stressed participation and feedback from the audience. 

The Conference Programme

The conference programme was as follows: 

Thursday 31 May 2018

10:30-11:00. Registration and coffee.

11:00-12:00. Loving the Middle Ages in a Flat World. Richard Utz (Georgia Institute of Technology).

12:00-13:00. Famous Men Who Rape: Chaucer, Edward III and Teaching Medieval Studies in the #MeToo Era. Lucia Akard (Oxford) and Seamus Dwyer (Yale).

13:00-14:00. Lunch. 

14:30-16:15. (Where) Do We Meet? Diversities of Teaching Medieval Studies in the Peripheries. Organised by Gerhard Jaritz (Central European University) and Zsuzanna Papp Reed (Central European University). Speakers contacted via Skype included Andrea Vanina Neyra (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Ephraim Shoham-Steiner (Ben-Gurian University of the Negev), Xu Zhexin (Salzburg), and Dan Knox (Central European University). 

16:15-17:00. Break.

17:00-18:00. Diversity and Decolonisation. Priyamvada Gopal (Cambridge) and Alaric Hall (Leeds). 

Friday 1 June 2018

09:00-09:30. Registration and coffee. 

09:30-10:30. Decolonising the Medieval Islamicate. Fozia Bora (Leeds), Daisy Livingston (SOAS, University of London), and Adam Talib (Durham). 

10:30-11:30. Medieval Art History: Postcolonising, Decolonising. Eva Frojmovic (Leeds) and Catherine Karkov(Leeds). 

11:30-13:00. Lunch. 

13:00-14:00. Interpreting the Middle Ages for the Game of Thrones Generation. Michael Carter (English Heritage), Maeve Morales-O'Donnell (Courtauld Institute of Art), and Will Wyeth (English Heritage). 

14:00-15:00. Diversifying the Traditional Narrative of Cultural Encounter. Adam Simmons (Lancaster) and Claudia Rogers (Leeds). 

15:00-15:30. Break. 

15:30-16:30. Closing Discussion. Geoff Humble (Leeds), Emilia Jamroziak (Leeds), Sjoerd Levelt (Bilkent), Amanda Power (Oxford), and Victoria Yuskaitis (Leeds). 

Symposium Results

This symposium was one part of a larger project started by the IMS in its 50th anniversary year. This project hopes to question the existing precepts of the academic field of Medieval Studies, and to build a foundation for the researchers and students of tomorrow. For more information about this project and to find ways to contribute, see the website here.

Emilia Jamroziak, member of the organising committee and Director of the IMS, explained that 'in this fiftieth anniversary year, we have been keen to begin a conversation about what our field currently looks like, and what can be done by UK Higher Education to improve inclusivity and diversity. This conference is just the start; we are speaking to delegates about how to further these discussions...It is an exciting time to be a medievalist.'

The IMC (International Medieval Congress) 2018 also had multiple sessions related to these discussions, including (among others) a round table titled 'International Medieval Congress and Central European University, Being 25: Networks of Medieval Studies and Their Future' (Session 911).