The Contemporary Medieval: Critical and Creative Methods, Practices and Environments

Josh Davies, King’s College London
Clare Lees, King’s College London
Gillian Overing, Wake Forest University

This seminar takes the idea of the ‘contemporary medieval’ as its starting point, a term that opens up new creative and critical approaches and methods for understanding how the culture of the Middle Ages has been used as a resource for new cultural productions in the modern and contemporary periods and that we have each begun using in our research and teaching practices.

The seminar will meet in three sessions, each with a different focus. We aim to create an ongoing multi-disciplinary conversation about ‘the contemporary medieval’ in a spirit of collaborative generosity and critical engagement. The first meeting, on ‘Performance, Race and Environment,’ will set out the methods and aims of the seminar by using the temporalities of performance and environment to address questions of identity in the medieval archive. The second meeting, ‘Practice, Audience, Gender,’ will develop the questions about identity raised in the first meeting by mapping out the range of creative and critical work that might fall within the domain of ‘the contemporary medieval’ and by posing the question of ‘audience’ – how might ‘the contemporary medieval’ expand our understanding of our disciplinary affiliations, our work as researchers, teachers and students, and our multi-disciplinary interests? Session Three focuses on the ‘American/Medieval,’ borrowing the title of a recent collection of essays edited by Gillian R. Overing and Ulrike Wiethaus. This session will explore the trajectories and transfers medieval culture undergoes, and enables, as it enters American culture, guided by, but not limited to, the American/Medieval: Nature and Mind in Cultural Transfer (2016) and its companion volume, now in progress (American/Medieval Goes North: Earth and Water in Transit).

We are interested in exploring creative ways to use this seminar to best support, enhance and foster new research, ideas and practices. We are therefore excited to receive proposals from interested participants and invite expressions of interest (max. 200 words) from all who are keen to take part.     

Expressions of interest should include a brief explanation of the applicant’s interest in the seminar and suggestions for short presentations or think pieces (max 10 mins) for at least one of the three sessions detailed above. We are committed to equality, diversity and inclusivity, and to all fields and practices within the medieval.

Please send expressions of interest and any queries to Josh Davies ( by July 1 2018.