Rethinking the Medieval Frontier: Call for Papers for Leeds IMC 2019

This is not the post I planned to have up next but the need to post it has suddenly caught up with me. I apologise for the very short notice, but, do you work on frontiers? Would you like to be at the next International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July 2019? Then please read on and respond!

Call for Papers

The research network Rethinking the Medieval Frontier has been coordinating research exploring medieval frontier spaces, both geopolitical and immaterial, since 2015. It exists to encourage the generation of complex, transportable models about frontiers, boundaries and borders, based in medieval evidence, which have the potential to inform and transform approaches to frontiers and boundaries in other periods and fields. We now invite proposals for 20-minute papers on such subjects, based on any area or areas of the medieval world, construed as broadly as possible, for the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in July 2019, our third appearance at the IMC. Please consider becoming part of our endeavour! Possible topics could include:

  • definitions of the frontier, physical or conceptual;
  • the establishment of boundaries, by authorities or by others;
  • lived experience, material culture or local self-expression in frontier spaces;
  • debates over identity on or in the frontier; or
    modern and scholarly conceptions of the medieval frontier.

Please send proposals, including title and an abstract of up to 250 words, to: Jonathan Jarrett <> by 24th September 2018. Please note the short deadline. We are especially interested to hear from scholars from outside the English-speaking world. Although the normal language of the Congress is English, we may be able to offer help with translation or preparation of talks; please mention this in your submission and we will discuss it with you.


4 responses to “Rethinking the Medieval Frontier: Call for Papers for Leeds IMC 2019

  1. Jonathan I do hope the papers will be published – online or elswhere. What plans have you?

    • This is a vexed question (which is not your fault! Thankyou for your encouragement!). I am already committed to publishing a volume based on the 2015 and 2016 IMC sessions and another from a subsequent conference (about which more in a few posts’ time), and have not been able because of the pressure on my time from activities related to my probation in my current rôle at Leeds. I am very much hoping to get moving on the first of these after Christmas, when all of my existing commitments should be met. (Of course, some of the five things I have out for review at the moment will probably come back in that time, so I may speak too soon.) Given all that, while I would like to publish the good material from these sessions (hopefully all of them will be good), I really shouldn’t commit to that, and if I did, no-one should believe me! At least one of the papers is already destined for somewhere else anyway. What I will probably do is run more such sessions or another conference in 2019/20 and then combine the best of the two as another essay volume if there still seems to be demand. But at the moment, it’s a far-off plan!

  2. PS I’ve missed the deadline, so this question is abstract (not to say academic). What are your thoughts on the distinction between the liminal and the ‘frontier’ space?

    • That is fairly abstract, yes! Semantically, obviously, they overlap; both are even implicitly descriptive of something with two sides yet often used as if there were only one, facing emptiness. I’m not sure, therefore, that I would draw a distinction between the two, but I’m still not quite happy to swap ‘liminal’ for ‘frontier’ in my work.

      I suppose a distinction might be that a ‘liminal’ space is necessarily one through which things can move: if you can’t cross it it’s not actually a threshold, it’s a barrier. But a frontier can, in theory at least, be closed without ceasing to be a frontier. So there’s that.

      I also think there’s something different between the phrases ‘a liminal community’ and ‘a frontier community’; the latter seems more robust and sustainable as a concept, the former harder even to identify. But these are very subjective readings of two fields of meaning, based only in my head. What were you thinking of?

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