Friday, March 05, 2010

Let the Games Begin: The Medieval World at Play

The third annual Interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Conference, hosted by the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, will take place this June and the organizers have put out a call for papers. The theme of this year's conference is: Let the Games Begin: The Medieval World at Play.

The organizers invite postgraduate students and early career researchers working in any field of Medieval Studies to submit abstracts for papers that approach issues concerning games and sports in medieval culture.

Suitable topics may include, but are not limited to:

Children’s games / play / toys
Courtly games
Chess / card / board games
Drinking games
Love games
Jousts / Tournaments / War games
Hunting / Hawking
Sports: archery, hammer-throwing, quarter-staff contests, stoolball, hurling, gameball, wrestling etc

Dr Katariina Nara, a Research Associate at the University of Sheffield and one of the conference organizers, said to, "We were considering a few options for this year's theme, and as we try to follow the research trends in medieval studies in general, game/play/sport seemed to offer not only a cutting edge theme, but the greatest possible variety of approaches across disciplines within Medieval Studies.

"This is very important when organising an interdisciplinary conference as we want to attract scholars from a variety of fields such as history, archaeology, literature, languages, art and architecture. We also have two established researchers in mind for possible keynote speakers, and their research was a further inspiration for our theme."

The previous two Interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Conferences had their own unique themes. The first, Locating the Voice: Expressions of Identity in the Middle Ages, was held in 2008, and Battle and Bloodshed: Representations of War in the Middle Ages was held last year. The proceedings of our first conference were published last December under the title In Search of the Medieval Voice: Expressions of Identity in the Middle Ages.

Dr. Nara and the other organizers are also involved in the Online Froissart Project, which aims to create a freely available online tool for textual, palaeographical and iconographic research on Froissart´s Chronicles. She notes, "Froissart was already strongly present in our last year's conference on medieval warfare, and considering his interest on not only battles but also tournaments and jousts, I would imagine a paper or two on Froissart's work would feature in this year's conference as well."

They ask for proposals of no more than 250 words for a twenty minute paper in English to be sent with your name, institution and contact details either by e-mail to or by post to the address below by 29th March 2010.

They have already received several inquiries about delivering papers, and Dr. Nara adds, "We have only send out one call for papers to date, and usually most proposals come in over the last two weeks before the deadline."

For more information about the Conference, go to