The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe:
   Sight and Visual Perception

University College Dublin, 11–12 March 2016

Call for Papers

Diagram of the seven tunics and three humours of the eye, with parts of the head.

Proposals for papers are invited for The Senses in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Sight and Visual Perception, which aims to provide an international and interdisciplinary forum for researchers with an interest in the history of the senses in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The history of the senses is a rapidly expanding field of research. Pioneered in Early Modern and Modern studies, it is now attracting attention also from Medieval and Renaissance specialists. Preoccupation with the human senses and with divine control over them is evident in a range of narrative texts, scientific treatises, creative literature, as well as the visual arts and music from the pre-modern period. This conference – the first in a series devoted to the five senses – aims to contribute to this expansion by bringing together leading researchers to exchange ideas and approaches.

The theme of the inaugural meeting is ‘Sight and Visual Perception’. Sight has been chosen as the first topic for investigation as it was considered the primary sense and was treated as an abstract philosophical and religious concept in many medieval texts. But the study of sight can also provide insights into various aspects of medieval society: ‘eye-witness’ descriptions; sight impairment and the care of the blind; deprivation of sight as punishment or revenge; the development of spectacles and other optical aids; ideas about colours and their significance; ‘second sight’ as manifested in visions and apparitions; the concept of ‘the gaze’ in visual arts. The conference aims to address these and other themes and to foster interaction between established and younger scholars working in the area.

Keynote Speakers

Professor Elizabeth Robertson, University of Glasgow

 Professor Chris Woolgar, University of Southampton

Professor Robertson’s research and publications are concerned with vernacular theology, medieval poetics, literacy in the Middle Ages, and gender and religion in Middle English literature. Her recent work has focused on vision and touch in devotional literature. With J. Jahner she edited Medieval and Early Modern Devotional Objects in Global Perspective: Translations of the Sacred for the New Middle Ages series (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010). This collection contains her important paper, ‘Julian of Norwich’s Unmediated Vision’.

Professor Woolgar’s research and publications are concerned with the social and economic history of late-medieval England and in particular with the evidence contained in domestic household accounts. He is the author of The Senses in Late Medieval England (Yale, 2007) and co-author of A Cultural History of the Senses in the Middle Ages, 500–1450, ed. Richard Newhauser (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).

Contributions on any aspect of the conference theme of ‘Sight and Visual Perception’ are welcomed from established and early career scholars as well as postgraduates. Proposals for panels are also warmly encouraged. Titles and abstracts (maximum 300 words) together with a short biography, institutional affiliation and contact details, should be forwarded to by 8 November 2015.

The conference is organised by Edward Coleman, School of History, UCD and the Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland. It is generously supported by UCD Seed Funding.

Organizing Committee:
Dr Edward Coleman (University College Dublin)
Dr Ann Buckley (Trinity College Dublin)
Dr Carrie Griffin (University of Bristol)
Dr Emer Purcell (University College Cork)

Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland (FMRSI)

Facebook: Twitter: @FMRSI

Image: London, British Library, MS Sloane 981, f. 68. Made available under Creative Commons Licence. See: uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/ILLUMIN.ASP?Size=mid&IllID=36641



Transmission, Translation and Dissemination in the European Middle Ages, 10001500 AD

University College Cork
28th–29th September 2012

This interdisciplinary, international conference will explore the issues of textual transmission and the movement of ideas across medieval Europe. Indeed, going beyond consideration of literary texts alone, the scope of discussions will include the transmission of images, music, scientific learning, and related areas.

Keynote addresses will be given by Dr Caoimhín Breatnach, School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics, University College Dublin and Dr Anthony Lappin, School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures, University of Manchester.






The conference is organised by the Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland in association with University College Cork and the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic, University of Cambridge. It is generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the School of History and the School of English, University College Cork, and The Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature.

Organizing committee:
Dr Elizabeth Boyle (University of Cambridge)
Dr Ann Buckley (Queen’s University Belfast / Trinity College Dublin)
Dr Carrie Griffin (Queen Mary, University of London / University College Cork)
Ms Emer Purcell M.Phil. (University College Cork)

Forum for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Ireland (FMRSI)

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