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Medieval Colloquium

The Northwestern Medieval Colloquium brings distinguished speakers to campus each year for a series of dynamic conversations in settings ranging from informal lunches with graduate students to traditional evening lectures. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies, the Colloquium allows scholars using multiple intellectual approaches to exchange ideas about a shared set of cultural artifacts and contexts. 

Administered by faculty and advanced graduate students, the Colloquium is funded by the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and various Northwestern departments and programs. All Colloquium events are designed to appeal to broad audiences and are open to the public. 

Medieval Colloquium 2016-17

2018-19 Schedule of Events

Unless otherwise indicated, all lectures are held in the Hagstrum Room (University Hall 201) at 5:00 p.m., with a reception to follow.

Monica Green (History, Arizona State)

October 4th           
“The Origins of the Black Death: A Consilient Approach from Phylogenetics and History”
Kresge 2-351

Sarah McNamer (English, Georgetown)

October 25th
“The Pearl Poet in the History of Emotion”

Bénédicte Sère (History, University of Paris, Nanterre)

November 1st
“Emotions and Historiographical Constructs: The Great Schism as Case Study”

Laura Smoller (History, U. of Rochester)

November 15th
“Looking for the End in Late Medieval Germany: Wolfgang Aytinger’s Commentary on Pseudo-Methodius”

Mark Miller (English, U. of Chicago)

February 21st
“Medieval Negativity: Political Fantasy and Aesthetic Form in Gower’s Confessio Amantis

Elina Gertsman (Art History, Case Western)

February 28th
“Lacunae and their Phantoms”
Kresge 1-515

Miri Rubin (History, Queen Mary, University of London)

April 11th
“Ecclesia and Synagoga: Sisters in Time”

Ed Muir (History, Northwestern; Gray Boyce Lecture)

April 18th
“Could a Woman Be a Citizen in the Middle Ages?”
Leopold Room, 4:30

Sharon Kinoshita (Literature, UC Santa Cruz)

April 25th
“Marco Polo and the Global Middle Ages”


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Driving Directions

Directions to the Northwestern University Evanston Campus

Parking information for the Evanston Campus.  No visitor permits are required after 4:00 pm or on weekends.

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Past Speakers


Jonathan Hsy (English, George Washington University)

Karin Krause (Art History and Divinity School, University of CHicago)

Sara Poor (German, Princeton University)

Samantha Kelly (History, Rutgers University)

Joel Kaye (History, Barnard College and Columbia University)

Elisheva Baumgarten (Jewish Studies, Hebrew University)


Michael Bailey (History, Iowa State)

Meredith Cohen (Art History, UCLA)

Kellie Robertson (English, U. of Maryland)

Michelle Karnes (English, Notre Dame)

Susie Phillips (English, Northwestern – Kaplan Institute)

Brian Catlos (Religious Studies, U. of Colorado)

Jenny Adams (English, U. Mass. at Amherst)


Beate Fricke (Art History, Berkeley)

Daisy Delogu (French Literature, U. of Chicago)

Tanya Stabler Miller (History, Loyola)

Garry Wills (History, Northwestern)

Jessica Brantley (English, Yale)

Shirin Khanmohamadi (Comparative and World Literature, San Francisco State)


Elizaveta Strakhov (French postdoc, Northwestern)

Seeta Chaganti (English, UC Davis)

Paul Saenger (curator emeritus, Newberry Library)

Mo Pareles (English postdoc, Northwestern)

Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (English, Fordham)

Maureen Miller (History, Berkeley)

Gabrielle Spiegel (History, Johns Hopkins)

Achim Timmermann (Art History, Michigan)


Christina Normore (Art History, Northwestern)

Daniel Lord Smail (History, Harvard)

Susan Crane (English and Comp. Lit., Columbia)

Anne Curry (History, U. of Southampton)

Cathy Sanok (English, U. of Michigan)

Marvin Trachtenberg (Art History, NYU)


Matthew Johnson (Anthropology, Northwestern) 

Caroline Walker Bynum (History, Inst. for Advanced Study, Princeton)

Conrad Rudolph (Art History, UC Riverside)

Andrew Galloway (English, Cornell)

Annemarie Carr (Art History, Southern Methodist U.)

Peggy McCracken (French and Women’s Studies, U. of Michigan)

Emily Steiner (English, U. of Pennsylvania)


Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner (Romance Languages, Boston College)

Rebecca Krug (English, Minnesota)

Scott Hiley (French and Italian, Northwestern)

Margot Fassler (Music History and Liturgy, Notre Dame)

Anne Hedeman (Art History and Medieval Studies, U. of Illinois)

Sara Lipton (History, SUNY Stony Brook)

Suzanne Conklin Akbari (English and Medieval Studies, Toronto)

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Mellon Art History Conference

A World within Worlds? 
Reassessing the “Global Turn” in Medieval Art History

June 5-6, 2015
University Hall 201
Free and open to the public
Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Study of the migration of motifs, materials, personnel and finished objects in Eurasia has a long pedigree within medieval art history, featuring prominently in the work of foundational figures such as Alois Riegl, Josef Strzygowski, Aby Warburg, Arthur Kingsley Porter and André and Oleg Grabar. The broadening attention to material culture as an alternative to purely text-based historical accounts has likewise been an integral factor in reshaping the current conception of a more interconnected medieval world. The past two decades in particular have seen a marked increase in institutional interest in promoting such work in art history. Job notices within the four College Art Association-designated fields that traditionally study medieval art history (Byzantine, Islamic, Western Medieval and East Asian) now regularly express a preference for research that crosses the boundaries between these modern distinctions, signaled through keywords such as Mediterranean studies, Silk Road, and cross-cultural analysis.

Yet despite this seeming support, and the valuable case studies and new conceptions of individual regions it has encouraged, numerous important problems remain to be addressed. These include not only the growing debates concerning the concept of “the global” throughout art history, but also the challenges to traditional art historical narratives, specializations, and scholarly training posed by the more complex picture of Eurasian and African societies and material culture that has begun to emerge in the past two decades. Moreover, while these problems affect Byzantine, Islamic, Western medieval, and East Asian art history alike, there has as yet been little sustained conversation between those working in all four fields, although such dialogue seems fundamental to the larger objectives of all.

Drawing together early-career specialists in four art historical fields actively engaged in this cross-cultural reassessment of the period between the 4th and 15thcenturies, this conference hopes offer a starting point for future conversations between scholars working across multiple cultural regions.

Mellon Conference Speakers

Matthew Canepa, University of Minnesota

Heather Badamo, University of Chicago/UCSB

Icons at War: Warrior Saints and Interfaith Encounter at the Frontiers of Faith”

Bonnie Cheng, Oberlin College

“A Camel’s Pace: The Case against Global Art” 

Sarah Guérin, Université de Montréal

“Climate & Commodities: Ivory Trade and Habitat Change”

Cecily Hilsdale, McGill University

“Global Romance in Byzantium and Beyond”

Hu Jun, Northwestern University

“The “Final Destination” of the Silk Road and Its Many Lives”

Lisa Mahoney, DePaul University

“Understanding Absence: The Church Façades of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem”

Jennifer Pruitt, University of Wisconsin

“Reassessing Medieval Islamic Globalism: The Fatimid Caliph and Jerusalem”

Eric Ramirez-Weaver, University of Virginia

Permeable Membranes: Astronomy and Appropriation in the Leiden Aratea 

Alicia Walker, Bryn Mawr

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