Friday, November 27, 2009

Call for Papers: St. Thomas Becket and the Vernacular Medieval Literature

Monte Verità in Switzerland will host the International Medieval Conference next year. The conference is taking place from October 17-22 on the theme 'St. Thomas Becket and the Vernacular Medieval Literature'.

In their call for papers, the programme committee states:

For Medievalists the Becket-Henry affair presents an ideal case study: the career of Thomas Becket, culminating in his murder (1170) is undoubtedly the best documented event in the twelfth century. The dramatic martyrdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury generated an unusual number of biographies, letters, histories. New avenues of research are now opening up for Philologists, since recent studies have begun to show that Becket's eruditi wrote not only in Latin, but also in vernacular (i. e. Anglo-Norman and French).

The language of government and diplomacy was Latin, but for Becket's circle, literature was too important to be excluded from the remoralization of the Plantagenet's life. Lay and clerical domains of worship were certainly distinct, but they were not neatly divided, either liturgically or physically. Nothing supports the polarity between a "lay piety" of "private" and "devotional" literature and a clerical art that was "public," "regulatory," and "liturgical." The Conference will be divided into two themes (consisting of several sub-divided sessions)

A) 1155-1170: "Warriors of God and Culture. Thomas Becket and his eruditi"
B) After 1170. "Perpetuating Myth"

The conference is being organized by the Becket Project, which is led by Carla Rossi of the University of Zurich. The Becket Project focuses on the relations which vernacular authors forged with those eruditi, and on the cultural program pursued by vernacular authors and by the circle of Canterbury scholars, whose purpose was to establish traditional, epochal genealogical and religious foundations for courtly Anglo-Norman society.

Several scholars have already committed to giving papers at the conference, including Michel Zink, Michael Staunton, Donna Bussell and Ian Short.

Click here to learn more about the conference and the Becket Project.