Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chicago hosts Medieval Academy of America

The 2009 Medieval Academy of America meeting will be taking place from Thursday, March 26th to Saturday March 28th in Chicago, Illinois. Over 400 scholars and graduate students are expected to attend the annual meeting, which is hosted in a different American or Canadian city each year.

The conference, which includes the business meetings for the Medieval Academy of America and the Illinois Medieval Association, will largely take place at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel. The hotel has hosted other academic conferences, including a recent one by the Renaissance Society of America, which impressed the organizers of this meeting.

Over 130 papers are being given over this three day conference, ranging from medieval travel writing to British Holy Women. Plenary speakers include Jaroslav Folda, on "Chrysography in Thirteenth-Century Painting East and West"; Patrick J. Geary, on "Whatever Happened to Latin?"; and Sara Poor speaking about "Sister Act: Gender, Reform, and the Devotional Book in Late Medieval Germany."

Barbara Newman, Professor of English, Religion, and Classics at Northwestern University and chair of the program committee, explains that while many conferences focus on a particular theme, the Medieval Academy of America "seeks a broad range of topics to interest members in the very wide range of fields and disciplines that we cover."

A special mini-conference is being held on Friday, March 27th, at the Loyola University Museum of Art. Entitled, Objects of Medieval Art in Chicago, Professor Newman explains that it will "celebrate the reinstallation of both the Medieval Collection at the Art Institute and the Martin D'Arcy Collection at Loyola...Many members of the art world and the two museum staffs will want to attend this small conference without having to join or register for the Medieval Academy."

Thomas Bestul, Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and chair of the local arrangements committee, explains that countless hours have been spent on organizing the conference. "The planning has been underway for more than two years," he said. "We don't use a professional meeting planner, so everything is done on a volunteer basis. We have a working group of more than twelve persons who are faculty members from colleges and universities in the Chicago area."

For those visiting Chicago, Professor Bestul offers some advice on what can be done in the city outside of the conference: "The Art Institute of course is not to be missed. The medieval galleries are in the process of being reorganized, and the new Renzo Piano modern wing won't open for a couple of weeks yet, but there is still much to see. An exhibit on Edward Munch is in progress now. The other attraction is the architectural fabric of Chicago itself. The Chicago Architectural Foundation offers great walking tours. An undiscovered gem is the Loyola University Museum of Art in the Water Tower area - the medieval collections have just been reinstalled in a wonderful new setting. A reception on Thursday at the Newberry Library will be a chance to become acquainted with that wonderful institution."

Click here to go to the website for 2009 Medieval Academy of America Meeting.