CFP: Ancestral Roots: Memory and Arboreal Imagery across Cultures International Medieval Congress, Leeds 2-5 July 2018 Submission Deadline: 20 September 2017
Organisers: Naïs Virenque, Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Université François Rabelais, Tours Pippa Salonius, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University, Melbourne
Call for Papers: Memories of our ancestors mould us. Key to determining our identities and shaping our sense of self, they help us construct our own microcosms of belonging. Blood ties bind us together building communities. These memories give us a sense of belonging, they are inclusive and as social animals, we gain strength from them. As parts of a historical and genealogical whole, in Medieval Christian thought we all stem from the same seed, that of Adam.
We seek papers that explore the use of arboreal imagery to convey concepts of lineage, genealogy and descent. Tree diagrams were used in the Middle Ages to organise ethics and knowledge. They express hierarchy and classify categories and sub-categories visually. They rendered difficult intellectual concepts accessible to the wider audience and helped scholars put complex issues in order. In both cases, trees were performative and carried their own significance. With their roots deep in the earth and their branches reaching towards the heavens, trees span the distance between the earthly realm and the divine. As mnemonic devices, their branching nature hints at the possibility of infinite multiplication and growth, urging viewers to engage with the data they contain. In the medieval West a renewed interest in mnemotechnic treatises and artefacts, together with a growing tendency for listing processes, increased the use of arboreal imagery in the twelfth century. From the thirteenth century, the use of tree structures together with the translation and dissemination of treatises on the art of memory and the development of vast encyclopaedic projects, constituted an important part of monastic, mendicant and university education. By the fifteenth century the tree had become the most common method for mapping knowledge in medieval Europe.
Tree diagrams are not static in time, but reach across it. Not only do they present knowledge, they encourage its future development and generation. Neither were they geographically confined. Trees flourished in the imaginary of many cultures as memory stimulators and storage. The world trees in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, Māori purakau (stemming from rakau, the root word for tree), tales told for didactic purposes, represent but a few examples. We seek to identify and explore both the similarities and differences in this nexus between trees, lineage and memory across cultures. In the interest of establishing an interdisciplinary global platform, we encourage proposals that examine arboreal frameworks of lineage and memory across medieval cultures, throughout Christendom and beyond, to include the indigenous cultures of America, Asia and the Pacific. ‘Arboreal’ and ‘imagery’ are used in the broadest sense of the terms in order to encourage interdisciplinary enquiry into both visual motifs and arboreal images conjured up by words, movement and/or sound.
Possible topics and perspectives include but are not limited to:
• Metaphors of knowledge: Seeds, trees and ideas.
• Links between human ancestry and botany: Arbor consanguinitatis, Arbor affinitatis?
• Arboreal imagery as a pedagogical device.
• Songlines: Arboreal frameworks for memory and mapping.
• Medieval Music and the Tree.
• Sacred Trees and Human History.
• The transitory nature of death in the Middle Ages: The tree as intermediary between the world of the living and that of the dead.
• Trees in Juridical Thought: Authority, Jurisdiction, Prohibition. • Arboreal imagery in architecture: columns and pilasters, decoration and structure.
• Trees and the art of memory. Tree diagrams.
• Trees and world order.
• Materiality: The meaning of wood, bark and foliage in (ceremonial) dress and gifts.
• The Tree at the centre.
• The Tree of Life (‘Gunungan’ in Javanese shadow puppet plays, in the Jewish/Christian Tradition, etc.)
• Family Trees.
Submission Guidelines: Please note that individual contributors must send their abstracts to us, as we have to submit them together as a session. (Do not submit your abstracts directly to the Leeds IMC). We aim to present multiple sessions at Leeds so that we might then consider them for publication.
1. Submission deadline: 20 September 2017.
2. Abstracts must be circa 100 words.
3. A title must be provided.
4. Please specify your surname, your forename(s), your academic title and affiliation.
5. Please specify your full address (including post code, city and country), telephone and email.
6. All IMC sessions come with a PC/laptop, data projector (‘beamer’), and internet access as standard. Please list any additional equipment required for your presentation.
7. Please submit a brief author biography of around 100 words with your abstract to Pippa Salonius, firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Naïs Virenque, nais.virenque@univtours. fr NB. Only one abstract per conference by author or co-author may be submitted.