Wednesday, September 05, 2018

CFP: Celebrating Belle da Costa Greene: An Examination of Medievalists of Color within the Field (Saint Louis University)

We are very pleased to share this timely CFP (on behalf of Dr. Tarrell Campbell at Saint Louis University). Please circulate widely!


“Celebrating Belle da Costa Greene: An Examination of Medievalists of Color within the Field” (November 30-December 2, 2018,  Saint Louis University)

The African American Studies Program at Saint Louis University invites paper and panel proposals for “Celebrating Belle da Costa Greene: An Examination of Medievalists of Color within the Field,” a conference to be held at the Center for Global Citizenship on the campus of Saint Louis University in the heart of Midtown Saint Louis, Missouri.

The contemporary state of Medieval Studies is at a crossroads. Will the field remain an open, safe, and inclusive environment--reflective of its always, already integrated history--or will the present atmosphere of isolated thinking, white supremacy, and delimited academic freedom continue to reign? In accordance with those who seek the light, this conference will celebrate the life and accomplishments of Belle da Costa Greene and will contribute to the developing field of scholarship centered on the meaning of the “medieval” and “Middle Ages” as relates increasingly interdisciplinary and cross-regional conceptions of the premodern world. More specifically, the conference represents an opportunity to focus on those aspects of the “medieval” and “Middle Ages” specifically of interest to Medievalists of Color and in alignment with the life of Greene. Greene was a black woman who had to pass as white in order to gain entrance and acceptance into the racially fraught professional landscape of early twentieth-century New York. She was a prominent art historian and the first manuscript librarian of the Pierpont Morgan collection. She was also the first known person of color and second woman to be elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America (1939). According to the Morgan Library & Museum website, "Greene was barely twenty when Morgan hired her, yet her intelligence, passion, and self-confidence eclipsed her relative inexperience, [and] she managed to help build one of America's greatest private libraries." Her legacy highlights the professional difficulties faced by Medievalists of Color, the personal sacrifices they make in order to belong to the field, and their extraordinary contributions to Medieval Studies.

This conference invites researchers to consider any aspect of the field as regards the life of Belle da Costa Greene; moreover, this conference invites scholarly perspectives of the “Other Middle Ages” by presenting research and resources that address the connectivity and mobility of the globe c. 500-1600 CE, particularly as relates the movements of racialized and othered bodies. Even more, the conference invites researchers who focus on new and novel ways of employing medieval historiographical, bibliographical, cosmological, etc. conceptions for contemporary analyses and explorations of human endeavors. What work (and violence) does the idea of “the Middle Ages” do in our scholarship, and what do we gain from a shared or comparative notion of the medieval? What do we lose when the field acts in a parochial manner, closing itself off and ostracizing scholars of color as Others. Papers and presentations will aim to contribute to a more inclusive view of the premodern world that de-centers European interpretations of the Middle Ages and recognizes dynamic globalisms and transient contemporary times.

Please include the title of proposed paper or panel and an abstract of about 500 words outlining how the paper or panel will fit with the conference theme. Be sure to include five keywords associated with the paper or the panel, name, title, position, affiliated institution, and a short biographical statement (40-50 words each) for all authors involved.

Faculty and graduate students are also welcome to apply to deliver a lightning talk + complementary paper and/or a primary source-based research presentation. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words.

Lightning Talks

The conference will hold two panels of lightning talks (8 minutes each) based on short, pre-circulated papers (approx. 4 pages) summarizing current work on globalized conceptions of and connections within the medieval world. Lightning talks will engage field- or region-specific conceptualizations of “the medieval/Middle Ages.”

Roundtable discussions with respondents will follow. 

Primary Source-based Research Presentations

Submissions will also be accepted for 15- to 18-minute research presentations, each focused on a particular medieval primary source (text, image, object, etc.) that is useful for thinking in comparative or global perspectives. The source (an image or a selection from the source) should be pre-circulated to attendees.

Each talk will be followed by a moderated discussion.

All presenters are asked to submit a brief bibliography (5-10 entries) on resources related to their lightning talks or research presentations. After the symposium, these bibliographies will be curated and will contribute to the development of a canon of literatures on the global Middle Ages made always available to conference participants and attendees.*

Nota bene : The submission of a paper and/or panel proposal must be on the understanding that if the proposal is accepted, then the author (or authors) will register for and attend the conference.

The costs of attending the conference, including registration fees, travel, accommodation and other expenses, are the responsibility of the presenter(s) or their institutions.

Deadline: September 28, 2018

How to Apply:

Applications should be submitted in PDF form to conference organizer Tarrell R. Campbell ( by September 28, 2018. Those submitting paper, panel, lightning talks, and primary source presentations should prepare separate abstracts, respectively. Please include the following information:

Faculty/Graduate Student/Independent Scholar:
Regional Specialization:
Proposed Format (Paper/Panel/Lightning Talk/Primary Source Presentation):

Abstracts of no longer than 500 words.

Notifications of acceptance will be made by no later than October 15, 2018.

***Interested in helping to organize the conference or conducting a workshop?***

Contact for more information.