Past Workshops
Imagines Mundi Year 2

Imagines Mundi: The Global Middle Ages 2015-2016

Contact: Lisa Cooper (

Coordinators: Ashley Cook (Art History), Lisa Cooper (English), Tom Dale (Art History), Samuel England (African Languages and Literature), Elizabeth Lapina (History), Jennifer Pruitt (Art History), Jelena Todorovic (Italian), Marion Vuagnoux (French), André Wink (History), Jordan Zweck (English)

2015-2016 Imagines Mundi workshops, meetings, and events can be found in the Borghesi-Mellon Workshops Calendar.

The popular conception of the medieval world is often one of insularity and isolation, but nothing could be further from the truth. Pilgrims, princes, crusaders, doctors, merchants, monks, and artists—all these knew that the world they lived in was a vast and far-flung network of persons, places and things. Traces of frequent and ongoing cross-cultural encounter in the Middle Ages abound: in encyclopedias, chronicles, and universal histories; in treatises of science and medicine; in literary texts; in works of art and architecture; and of course in maps and travel narratives of many kinds. Indeed, even as we speak with increasing frequency about our current moment as an era of globalization, the Middle Ages—roughly the thousand years between c. 500–1500—have themselves never seemed more urgently global. England to Egypt, Rome to Russia, Constantinople to China, Iceland to India, Jerusalem to Jakarta, Paris to Persia: scholars of the period have for the last decade and more increasingly turned their attention to the ways international communication, commercial exchange, religious mission, and military conquest created deep connections as well as equally deep fissures throughout the era, in ways that continue to shape political and social structures around the world today. Where literary scholars have brought postcolonial theory to bear on wide range of medieval texts, especially those produced in the wake of the conquest of England in 1066 and during the several centuries of the Crusades, art historians have explored the shared visual culture linking European Christian, Islamic and Byzantine courts, producing a new field of study in what is now regularly referred to as the  “global Mediterranean,” while historians of science have uncovered the complex and extensive reception of Greek and Islamic science and medicine in western Europe (and these are just a few examples among many).

Without losing sight of the particularities of human experience in lands separated by very different systems of language, politics, culture, and religious belief, this workshop seeks to join this ongoing conversation, and explore what it means to think the medieval as/in a global context, and to ask how doing so may (and also may not) add to the current global turn in the humanities and social sciences.

To receive event updates and participate in related conversations, or to get the password for protected readings, please e-mail Lisa Cooper

2015-2016 Events: see Borghesi-Mellon Workshops Calendar.