Architectural Representation in the Middle Ages Conference

7-8 April 2017, University College, Oxford

The architectural remnants of the Middle Ages--from castles and cathedrals to village churches--provide many people's first point of contact with the medieval period and its culture. Such concrete survivals provide a direct link to the material experience of medieval people. At the same time, exploring the ways in which architecture was conceptualized and depicted can contribute to our understanding of the ideological and imaginative worldview of the period. This two-day conference is intended to facilitate discussion and collaboration on all aspects of architectural representation, understood broadly to encompass actual, symbolic, or imaginary architectural features, whether still standing today, observable in the archaeological record, or surviving
only through depiction in literature or art. The conference is interdisciplinary in outlook, and we hope to welcome papers from across the spectrum of academic disciplines, including literature, history, art, theology, and archaeology. 

We invite proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes in length focusing upon the signification, purpose, and impact of architectural representation throughout the European Middle Ages. Please submit a title and a 200-word abstract to by 7 January 2017

Possible topics for investigation include, but are not limited to: 

  • Architectural metaphors and imagery 
  • The social and symbolic value of buildings or building programmes 
  • Visual representation of architecture in manuscripts, metalwork, or sculpture  
  • Architectural representations of other worlds and/or the heaven and hell 
  • Architecture and the liturgy 
  • Placed deposits 
  • Imaginary and mnemonic architecture 
  • The lifecycle(s) of buildings and other architectural features 
  • Literary depictions of architecture of architectural spaces 
  • Decorative schemes, architectural styles and techniques 
  • Architecture and narrative 
  • Architecture in the landscape 

Keynote speakers: Professor Robert Bork (Iowa); Dr Christiania Whitehead (Warwick) 

We expect that the conference will lead to a published volume of essays intended to stimulate further work in this area. A number of bursaries for graduates and early career academics will be available, details of which will be announced on the conference website. 

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