Feb. 17, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 10

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    Medieval Studies Workshop plans international conference for Friday

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    In conjunction with the annual meeting of the Illinois Medieval Association, the Medieval Studies Workshop of the University will convene an international conference to discuss narratives of historical events during the Middle Ages.

    The conference, Crafting History for the Present: Uses of the Past in the Middle Ages, will provide a forum for North American scholars and their European colleagues to selectively compare these narratives through conversations between scholars with a wide range of disciplinary perspectives.

    The weekend will begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, in Swift Hall with a keynote address and a plenary session led by two speakers. Walter Goffart, professor of history at the University of Toronto, will begin the proceedings with a presentation titled “The West Falls, the East Survives: Reconsiderations About the End of Late Antiquity.“ Nancy Partner, professor of history at McGill University, and Karl Morrison, professor of history and poetics at Rutgers University, will lead the plenary session.

    Conference organizer Michael Allen, Assistant Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures, said it is particularly significant that Goffart will deliver the keynote address. “Goffart’s work has vastly enriched our understandings of the writings from the medieval period as artifacts and mirrors of the world of their authors,“ he explained. “The Medieval Studies Workshop hoped to acknowledge his signal contributions to the subject of ‘crafting history,’ and we are extremely pleased he has agreed to open our conference with his paper.“

    Allen and co-organizer Rachel Fulton, Assistant Professor in History, also point out the significance of the Illinois Medieval Association’s involvement in the conference. Fulton explained that on the strength of their chosen topic and the commitment of speakers like Goffart, the IMA proposed building its 2000 annual meeting around the workshop’s conference. “The collaboration of our relatively young and vigorous Medieval Studies Workshop with the IMA is without precedent,“ said Fulton. “By any comparison, their synergy will make our conference a high point on this year’s national calendar of medieval events.“

    The second day of the conference on Saturday, Feb. 19, will take place at the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University, 25 E. Pearson. The Medieval Studies Workshop has planned two plenary sessions to “bookend“ the IMA events scheduled for that day––the first at 9 a.m. with John Dagenais, professor of Spanish language and literature at UCLA, and Margot Fassler, professor of divinity and music at Yale University. The second plenary session and final conference event will begin at

    4:15 p.m. with presenters Linda Seidel, Professor in Art History at Chicago, and Mayke de Jong, professor of history at the University of Utrecht.

    “We count ourselves as extremely fortunate that this impressive group of major scholars has agreed to speak to us,“ commented Allen.

    “For all participants, we hope the result will be a freshly challenged awareness of how the medieval past was, and is, crafted with cunning and art––at the desk of the writer and in the sounds and images of the artist.“