Call for Papers

31st Annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference

“Islands of the Medieval World: Stories of Isolation and Connectivity”

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

The 31st Annual New England Medieval Studies Consortium Graduate Student Conference is requesting submissions for its annual conference that will take place at Brown University on Saturday, March 15th, 2014. In the spirit of connectivity, the conference encourages dialogue across and between disciplines by bringing together scholars with widely varying interests.

The keynote address, “Island Hopping: Trade, Ethnography, and Religion in the Indian Ocean World of Late Antiquity” will be presented by Joel Walker, the Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington. His lecture will explore the intertwined ethnographic and mercantile traditions of the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean from the Hellenistic era into the medieval Islamic world.

This year’s conference will engage with issues of isolation and connectivity, both real and imagined, from Late Antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Contributors are encouraged to interpret this theme broadly. We encourage papers from a variety of disciplines, including:

Anthropology – Archaeology – Art History – Byzantine Studies – Classical Studies – Comparative Literature – History – History of Science – Islamic Studies – Language Studies – Literary Studies – Musicology – Philosophy – Religious Studies – Syriac Studies – Theology – Urban Studies – Woman’s and Gender Studies

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Culture, society, economy, religion, and other aspects of life on actual islands in the Middle Ages (Crete, Cyprus, Sicily, Prince’s Islands, Aegean Islands, Britain, etc.)
  • Physical and social isolation: pockets of sub-cultures, minorities
  • Religious isolation: holy mountains, asceticism, monastic “islands”, and desertum
  • Islands of languages, such as particular dialects that emerge and are used only in specific contexts
  • Reaching the isolated: medieval missionaries, travelers’ accounts
  • Connectivity: social networks, trade/shipping networks and routes
  • Urban islands in feudal seas: town and countryside
  • Legal isolation: laws enforced on various social groups
  • Literary depictions and descriptions of isolation
  • Archaeological approaches to isolation: GIS-based studies, topographical surveys

Abstracts of no more than 300 words for 15-20 minute papers should be emailed to Alexis Jackson at In addition to the abstract, please include a Curriculum Vitae with full contact information. Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, November 20th, 2013. Participants will be notified by December 10th.

For more information, please contact Alexis Jackson at


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