To be held 2nd-3rd June, 2017
Organised by Elizabeth Alexander (York) and Lyndsey Smith (York)
Recovering the past can be an arduous and treacherous task and modern scholars frequently find themselves indebted to those who have gone before them. This multi-disciplinary two-day conference sets out to celebrate and analyse the impact the work of previous generations has had on our understanding of the Medieval past. For example, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards there appears to have been an increased interest in cataloguing and preserving the sculpture of the early Medieval period by figures such as John Romilly Allen and Joseph Anderson, whose seminal work The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, published in 1903, is still the most complete record of the sculpture of early Medieval Scotland and was an influencing factor behind the creation of the British Academy Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (which published its twelfth volume in 2016), the key text for any scholar working on Anglo-Saxon monumental sculpture and ecclesiastical / secular patronage of the arts in the early Middle Ages. This recording and cataloguing of the past can also been seen during the Medieval period itself with the collation of earlier oral poetry being preserved in manuscripts, such as the ninth-century poem Genesis B preserved within the c. 1000 Bodleian Junius 11 manuscript-version of the near contemporary poem Genesis.
Wider examples of recovering the past include, but are not limited to: recovering the past given the issues surrounding the accuracy/authenticity of primary sources; excavation and/or scientific analysis, the insights these provide and the issues surrounding the findings; the recovery of lost or stolen artefacts during the Medieval period and beyond; highlighting the skewing of the past through the editing of texts since the later sixteenth century, the production of fakes, the re-carving of sculpture; highlighting the use and manipulation of the past to support nationalistic/religious arguments; the varying interests of antiquarians and early historians; as well as museology and the questions surrounding how we engage with and display the Medieval past.
This conference will bring together emerging scholars, early career researchers and established academics from a variety of disciplines to provide a platform to discuss how this important idea was manifested in the textual, visual and material evidence of the Medieval world and beyond. It aims to examine the implications and the significance of ‘recovering the past’ in its widest possible contexts.