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LOCI SEPULCRALIS – Pantheons and other places of memory and burial in the Middle Ages

International Conference LOCI SEPULCRALIS – Pantheons and other places of memory and burial in the Middle Ages
21-23 September 2017 | Portugal · Batalha | Santa Maria da Vitória Monastery

Throughout the Middle Ages, the choice of a particular burial place, as the option for a monumental tomb, speak volumes about the fundamental questions that the men who felt compelled to define the fate of their remains and their wealth before they died must have asked themselves. Such choice was never made by chance, on the contrary, they took extreme care to define how their mortal remains were to be kept for eternity and what needed to be done in order to guarantee their eternal rest. Kings and queens were obviously paramount in this process, as royal pantheons grew to become more and more relevant in the construction of royal legitimacy. Yet Kings were not the only ones worrying about lineage and personal memory. Noblemen and ecclesiastics, just as much as rich tradesmen, and their wives and daughters, were all involved in such tendencies.
The study of all sorts and styles of pantheons have fascinated scholars of all disciplines in the last thirty years or so, to a point that one might wonder what there is still to be said. But as is often the case, the more one topic is studied, the greater the questions which arise thereof. New interdisciplinary readings and approaches of this subject have promoted new questionings and problems and it is perhaps time to try and re-think the whole evidence and point out new ways of looking at such important witnesses of the concepts of life, death and their value for the medieval men.
Taking up the topic of Royal Pantheons as the leading theme, we therefore propose to host a 3-day Conference, in the Santa Maria da Vitória Monastery (commonly known as Monastery of Batalha), one of the most important medieval royal pantheons of Portugal and the obvious venue for a multidisciplinary meeting like this, which aims at gathering well established scholars as well as young and upcoming academics in an environment where the debate and discussion on death and burial will have an ideal environment in which to develop.

The Conference will be subdivided in four sections:
1st Section – Origins and development of royal pantheons as places of social and political memory in the Middle Ages (5th-15th century) This section intends to gather papers on Royal pantheons, in a multidisciplinary form. It aims at looking at such pantheons from a conjunctural and widely contextualizing perspective, as the materialization of specific clear intentions of perpetuating lineage memories, but also as elements for the propagation and reproduction of social status, of political legitimation and of display of power. This is also a section which aims at hosting comparisons between pantheons built in the High Middle Ages or the Late Middle Ages, as well as at addressing the differences between different geo-political settings for such monuments or even at questioning the very concept of pantheon and the tendency to concentrate or disperse royal sites of burial in certain institutions or towns.
2nd Section – Medieval Pantheons. Case Studies This section aims at hosting papers which deal with specific cases of pantheons of all sorts and natures, royal, noble, ecclesiastic or lay. It is devised so that specific cases may be addressed - from the perspective of Art History, Social History, History of Ideas, Emotions and Literature, Liturgical Studies - as mirrors of wider trends which may reflect the circulation of more global models, movements and “fashions” in what regards the choice of a burial site and all that is involved in such choice.
3rd Section – Texts and Representations of social memory in pantheons and other burial monuments Specifically devoted to the “material” elements blatantly patent in funerary monuments but normally not considered as “artistic”, like heraldry and epigraphy, this section will also welcome papers on medieval historiography, literature and symbolism and their treatment of pantheons and funerary monuments and buildings.
4th Section – Medieval Pantheons: places of tradition or places for artistic innovation? This section aims at hosting papers on formal and iconographic analysis of the pantheons of any type, just as well as on tombs and funerary slabs. The idea is to be able to assess whether the structures, architectural, sculptural and other elements patent in the buildings, burial monuments and slabs are elements used for experimental artistic innovation or rather a form of perpetuating much more traditional ideas and patterns.

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Deadline: 15 April 2017