Historians have studied the emergence of medieval city life for a long time, a process of greatest interest for many different specialists, and by now reflected in whole libraries of relevant publications. Economic, military, political, religious, and art-historical dimensions of town and city have been examined in great detail, but we still do not know enough about the basic experience the new urban space offered for people in the Middle Ages and the early modern age. What did it mean to be exposed to so many
neighbors, colleagues, strangers, travelers, administrators, craftsmen, maids, wives, female workers and artists, etc. within the limited space of an enwalled city? How did the individual experience power represented by the city authorities, by the guild, church groups, gender orientation, institutions, all located within the city walls? Linguistically, we also face numerous difficulties because in English we distinguish between 'town' and 'city,' whereas in German, for instance, the term 'Stadt' comprises all urban settlements, which might also reflect the considerable differences in urban growth in various European regions.
What concepts of urban life can we find in literary and art-historical documents? How did the urban context
shape religious experiences? How did life within a walled settlement--town or city--change the burghers' attitudes toward their rulers, and toward the Church? What were the images of ideal cities, and when did they emerge first? How did writers and painters project cities in the exotic East, in contrast to their own experiences back home? To what extent did life within an urban context facilitate contacts with foreign worlds, since merchants
and medical doctors, among others, were the primary voyagers abroad, establishing numerous contacts with people of different tongues, religion, and culture? Moreover, what were the concept of imaginary cities in the Middle Ages, such as spiritual cities, allegorical cities, etc.?
Building on a rich corpus of previous research, this interdisciplinary symposium will address a host of new questions, shedding new light on one of the most complex cultural-historical phenomena since at least the eleventh century.
This is a self-sustaining academic symposium. Participants are expected to secure travel funds and other costs (housing, registration) from their home institution.
The registration fee of $60. will include all meals and refreshments, three receptions, and an excursion. Selected papers will be accepted for publication in a volume, to be included in the series "Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture," ed. Albrecht Classen and Marilyn Sandidge (Berlin and New York: de Gruyter). Each contributor to the volume will receive a free copy.
Anyone interested in joining the symposium as part of the audience, please contact the organizer. Student participation will be most welcome.
Languages accepted at the symposium: English, French, German, and Spanish. Non-English papers must be accompanied by a good English summary available as a hand-out. Abstracts of all papers will be posted well ahead of the symposium.
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