Call for Papers for NetMAR International Conference: The Arts and Rituals of Pilgrimage

01-03 December 2022, University of Cyprus

Please, click here for a pdf version of the Call for Papers.

Confirmed Speakers: Stavroula Constantinou, Ivan Foletti, Georgia Frank, Cornelia Horn, Stephen Jaeger, Gerhard Jaritz, and Nils Holger Petersen

The Network for Medieval Arts & Rituals (NetMAR), an international, interdisciplinary
network investigating the overlaps between medieval arts and rituals, invites applications for 20-minute papers that address the broad theme of Arts & Rituals of Pilgrimage. The conference will be held at the premises of the University of Cyprus in 01-03 December 2022.

Pilgrimage is a religious practice that, though originating in antiquity and still active in various forms, constitutes the predominant ritual of the Middle Ages. Rich evidence from various traditions shows that medieval pilgrimage was not only a ritual by itself but that it also involved other rituals – and that it in fact operated through them. Medieval pilgrims engaged in a series of rituals before, during, and after their religious journey(s). Furthermore, they participated in rituals that were performed on pilgrimage sites: sanctuaries, shrines, cult churches, cathedrals, and monasteries.

Moreover, as an essential element of medieval social, political, and religious life, pilgrimage was a relational and complex practice. Its power and efficacy did not only emanate from its associated rituals, but also from its arts. In fact, visual, literary, and performing arts were the sine qua non of medieval pilgrimage, just as they were integral elements of all important medieval rituals. For example, church music and church furnishings – such as icons, panels, sculptures, tapestries, precious books, and other liturgical objects – were not independent artistic expressions (as most scholars tend to treat them) but parts of ecclesiastical rituals for which they were created and used. In short, the transformative experience that pilgrims sought through pilgrimage was achieved through the interaction of arts and rituals.

The conference invites papers from scholars of all career levels that engage with questions and themes including but not limited to:

  • The practice of pilgrimage and its place in medieval literature and visual arts
  • Pilgrimage in literature and literature as pilgrimage
  • Pilgrimage in painting/sculpture/music/rhetoric and/or performance
  • The architecture of pilgrimage
  • The communities of pilgrimage-goers and of pilgrimage sites
  • Pilgrim routes
  • The afterlives of pilgrimages

The conference will run under four thematic streams. You are requested to choose which thematic best describes your paper when you submit your abstract:

  1. Settings: The specific material and topographical contexts that pilgrimage rituals and
    arts acquire in a particular pilgrimage route; namely, how space and space division
    determine the forms and performances of pilgrimage rituals and arts, and how the
    latter define and transform their settings. In this context, the patrimonial, political or
    religious authorities behind the pilgrimage rituals and arts could also be considered,
    as they play an instrumental role in determining the ritual settings and their changes,
    both synchronically and diachronically.
  2. Structures: The conception of pilgrimage rituals and arts, and how rituals invite arts in pilgrimage and vice versa: how arts invite rituals. Under this thematic one could discuss the shapes, themes, and structures of pilgrimage rituals and arts, and the ways in which rituals inform and are informed by arts in pilgrimage, as well as how different artistic works interact with each other during or while referring to a certain pilgrimage ritual.
  3. Experiences: The focus here turns to the pilgrims, their expectations and needs (personal, familial, and communal), their ideas (social, religious, and political) and their experiences (sensual, emotional, and mental) as determined by their gender, age, origin, and status. Of interest are also the meanings of pilgrimage rituals and arts for female and male pilgrims of different origin, varied ages, and status; the ways in which pilgrimage rituals and arts affect different pilgrims, either individually or collectively, and what they aim to achieve for them.
  4. Afterlives: How have medieval pilgrimage rituals and arts developed and continued from the 15th century onwards?

Please send an abstract of 250 words (including a title and the thematic stream you are applying for) together with a short biographical note (100 words) to by no later than 31 July 2022. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by September 2022.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and
innovation programme under grant agreement No 951875.

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