Meaning, Memory and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces

Saturday 23 November (00:01) - Sunday 24 November 2019 (23:59)

The process of stopping and looking back at the past through new methodological lenses over the last half-century has comprised a series of fruitful cross-disciplinary ‘turns’.

These retrospective global movements have provided academia with innovative ways of shedding light on past civilisations through a shared analytical model that prioritises a specific focus. During the second half of the twentieth century the ‘turn to space’ found its roots in erudite thinkers such as Foucault and Lefebvre who positioned space as a critical analytical tool for understanding social existence in the areas of geography, urban planning, and architecture. In recent years, this framework has found cadence throughout the social sciences and humanities and has transitioned from being an experimental, innovative, sometimes controversial tool, to a necessary critical model for studies of the past.

The intention of our conference is to (re)turn again to space and to stimulate fresh conversations across temporal and cultural disciplinary boundaries through collective spatial analysis. To help introduce and expand these themes we are pleased to announce that Professor Diana Spencer (University of Birmingham) and Dr Hanna Vorholt (University of York) will feature as our keynote speakers. Professor Spencer’s work on the portrayal of self in Roman spatial narratives is complemented by Dr Vorholt’s analysis of Western architectural and material representations of Jerusalem. Together, they embody a core tenet of the conference’s mission statement: interdisciplinary dialogue towards cross-temporal discourse.

Our tripartite conference name encapsulates the broad and valuable facets of recent approaches to the study of space: spaces contain, facilitate, and organise meaning for societies, they perpetuate, (re)construct, and direct memory, and movement through and around space underpins these processes. Furthermore, the obvious opportunity for overlapping angles and approaches is indicative of the fluidity of these multifaceted constructs and the incongruity of a ‘correct’ interpretation of space.

We believe in juxtaposing approaches and perspectives from different temporal, cultural, and geographical contexts in order to elicit cross-disciplinary dissemination, networking, and productivity. Therefore, we envisage grouping together temporally divergent papers into a number of focussed thematic panels. We hope to support a productive interdisciplinary environment that will enable researchers to, on the one hand, look retrospectively at their research in a new light, and on the other, to consider innovative approaches to their future research avenues.

This conference is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.

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