Materiality of Languages: Byzantium and Early Islamic Near East from 324 to 1204


About The Event

Session at 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies

Call for Papers

Date: May 13-16, 2021

Venue: Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, US

Abstract Submission Deadline: July 1, 2020

Papers are sought for “Materiality of Languages: Epigraphy, Manuscripts, and Writing Systems in Byzantium and Early Islamic Near East (324-1204), a series of sponsored sessions organized by Yuliya Minets (University of Notre Dame and Jacksonville State University) and Paweł Nowakowski (University of Warsaw) for the International Medieval Congress

This series of sessions at the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies will bring together a group of scholars to explore the links between languages and their material and visual forms (including specific media of writing, writing instruments, scripts, etc.) in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Byzantine and early Islamic eras. The purpose of the sessions is to examine whether this situation led to consolidating associative links between certain languages (or their varieties) and particular types, methods, and styles of writing regarded as their “proper” or “preferred” mediums; and to what extent modern scholars can detect these links today, studying epigraphy, manuscripts, and writing systems.

We are specifically interested in the following issues:

• Changes in scribal features and practices: those inherited from the past, transformed, and newly invented;
• A distinct physical outlook of a language as a factor contributing to its high or low status;
• Visual differentiation between the “High” and “Low” varieties of the same language;
• Ancient writers’ reflections on changing appearances and materiality of languages;
• More or less prestigious placements, art forms, and materials (e.g. languages chosen for precious floor mosaics and opus sectile decorations vs. those for plain unadorned rock inscriptions located in desolate areas);
• Preferable directions of writing (e.g. why Syriac inscriptions were often written from top to bottom?)
• Decorative techniques and calligraphy in book manuscripts and monumental inscriptions as a cross-lingual phenomenon;
• Features of cursive and documentary scripts (non-)attested across different languages;

More information on:

  • Cost: Free
  • Total Slot: 0
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1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, United States

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