CMS’s Thirty-Third Medieval Colloquium

Imitation, Emulation, and Forgery: Pretending and Becoming in the Medieval World
March 2–3, 2012
The Thirty-Third Medieval Colloquium of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto

Opening Keynote: Jan Ziolkowski, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin, Harvard
Closing Keynote: Marjorie Curry Woods, Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of English and Distinguished University Teacher, The University of Texas at Austin

Imitation is a central concept within medieval thought, linking disparate genres and avenues of human experience within a network of interconnected models and interpretive structures. Medieval people saw their work standing within a relationship of resemblance to models and sources that predated their efforts, from the image of God in man, to the examples of poets, historiographers and hagiographers. Imitation implies both a faithfulness to its sources and also an inherent differentiation, and medieval culture used this space that embodied both sameness and difference as a particularly fertile zone; the religious found an imperfect mirror within the world and humanity, reflecting the transcendent world beyond matter; saints imitated Christ and one another, authors and poets looked to the models of both Christian and pagan antiquity, texts were copied and diffused, artists looked to the work of their forbears and the world around them, and knights fashioned themselves in the guise of the heroes of romance. Establishing a relationship to a transcendental model was a primary mechanism of producing authority, and it formed the basis for traditions of textual transmission, institutional legitimacy, personal identity, and a sweeping range of other persistent ideas. While scholars of medieval subjects have each grappled with imitation in their own fields, rarely have those discoveries been brought together in a concentrated interdisciplinary conversation.

We invite abstracts of 250 words together with a 1-page CV by the deadline of 1 September 2011 that deal with the broad issue of imitation in the Middle Ages as encountered in (but not limited to) literature, theology, hagiography, historiography, art history, and philosophy. We hope to bring together scholarly discourses regarding the imitative traits found in medieval subjects in ways that combine and seek to reveal the often-neglected similarities present in medieval forms of imitation.  Topics might include, but are not limited to

  • Literary, dramatic, or artistic mimesis
  • Medieval forgeries and frauds
  • Textual copying and diffusion
  • Legal precedents
  • Vernacular translations and adaptations of Latin classical or patristic sources
  • Dionysian mysticism, the imitatio Christi and the theology of imitation
  • Imagination and simulation in the Middle Ages
  • Magic and illusion (including diabolic deception)
  • The Speculum as concept and organizational method
  • Genre building and imitation
  • Historiography and ‘borrowing’
  • Discipleship and ‘following’
  • Sacred topology

Papers should be 20min in length. To submit a proposal, or for any other inquiries, please email the Conference Committee c/o Daniel Price at email hidden; JavaScript is required.