Historical geographers appear to be increasingly occupied with the modern or post-Enlightenment world, with ‘medieval geographies’ becoming, for many in the field, a terra incognita. Yet over the past century, the Latin, Byzantine and Arabic worlds of the Middle Ages (c.500-1500CE) have been a key focus for geographical study. Whether in charting geography’s medieval history and historiography, or in reconstructing spatial histories of medieval landscapes, territories and societies, geographers have thus recognized the importance of geographies before the modern age. However, during the past three decades, these geographies ‘in’ and ‘of’ the Middle Ages have noticeably shifted further to the margins of Anglophone historical geography, at a time when, paradoxically, the geographical and spatial are growing concerns among medievalists, for example in art and literary history, and in architecture and archaeology.
In the context of these shifting disciplinary terrains, this session seeks to make space for medieval geographies by providing a forum for recent and ongoing studies that encompass both geographies in and of the Middle Ages. Papers of an empirical or theoretical nature are sought, particularly those engaging in critical ways with medieval geographies and which encourage further cross-disciplinary exchange with medievalists in cognate areas. Far from being a terra incognita, the session will expose some of the contemporary resonances of medieval geographies, and one of its intended outcomes is to entice historical geographers to consider the spatial and temporal continuities, discontinuities and connections that run between the ‘medieval’ and the ‘modern’.
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