22e Mediëvistendag / 22th Medieval Studies Day: Readjusting the Middle Ages

Onderzoekschool Mediëvistiek /  Vlaamse Werkgroep Mediëvistiek


Utrecht, 11 November 2016


For as long as we can remember, the idea of the ‘Middle Ages’ has been under review. As medievalists we have accepted, if only for practical purposes, the periodisation of European history in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the (Pre-) Modern Age. In doing so, we have unwittingly allowed negative connotations of the ‘Middle Ages’ to persist in education, politics, and the received ideas of the public at large. Yet, through our research we have come to a set of rather different views. We no longer hold to the established periodisation of Western civilisation. Indeed, we are coming to question the very notion of ‘the West’, and are slowly beginning to react in our research and in our teaching to the study of the western Middle Ages in isolation. Neither do we see the story of our continent as one of unfettered progress from the ‘cradle’ of the Middle Ages to the blessings of contemporary modernity. Nor do we see the Middle Ages as a thousand-year-long hiccup in the advance of civilisation from Greek and Roman Antiquity to our own age. We have come to realise that in the panoply of developments taking place during the Middle Ages there were some we might be tempted to applaud, whereas there were others that we have reservations about – as with developments in any other period of history, including our own. And we are keenly aware that we have to understand both the developments and our judgement of them.
These are some of the considerations that inform the continuing readjustment of the study of the Middle Ages, and, as a result, of the Middle Ages themselves. What are the Middles Ages? When did they take place? Where did they take place? And: how do they relate to the periods that went before and followed? One thing is certain: the Middle Ages, no matter how we wish to define them, were no Dark Ages.
At the Mediëvistendag of 11 November 2016, we will address some of these problems. During the morning’s general session, we will ask prominent medievalists to reflect on key issues in medieval developments and their continuation later on. During the afternoon’s sessions, we have a chance to hear about research currently carried out, which will in time help further adjustments of the Middle Ages. We will then move to Museum het Catharijneconvent for a lecture on St Martin and a visit to the exhibition ‘Heilige Schrift – Tanach – Bijbel – Koran’. The Mediëvistendag will end with a borrel.
The definitive programme will be made available in September. Those who wish to present their current research are asked to read the announcement below and send their proposal by 1 September to m.mostert@uu.nl.
All lectures and papers will be presented in English, to allow all scholars, PhD students and Research MA students, irrespective of their linguistic abilities, to take part.



On 11 November 2016, the Netherlands Research School for Medieval Studies, together with the Flemish Medievalist Association, will be holding the annual Medieval Studies Day, this time in Utrecht. The organisation is in the hands of the medievalists of Utrecht University and the secretariat of the Association.

One of the main aims of the annual Medieval Studies Day is the exchange of information about recent developments in the field via presentations of research projects in the field of Medieval Studies (including at least all new projects), and via short presentations by PhD students (including at least all new students).

The presentations on the Medieval Studies Day by newly appointed PhD students are a fixed part of the training programme for the research school. We are of course aware that these and other research projects may still be in the early stages, but it is always a good idea to inform a wider academic audience about research plans early on. You can make your project known via a short PowerPoint presentation and use the opportunity to get to know colleagues interested in your research. Your presentation should include information about your line of approach, the general research question, and a brief description of your material.

Presentations of other (new and ongoing) research projects in the field are also highly appreciated by the audience.


In order to arrange the programme in good time, we would appreciate receiving your proposal by 1 September. Please send an e-mail message to Marco Mostert (m.mostert@uu.nl), mentioning your name, affiliation, and the title of your presentation.

Presentations will be organised into sessions of 90 minutes. Each presentation may last up to 20 minutes, leaving ample time for discussion.

As soon as we know how many presentations there are, you will be sent more precise information.

Please do not forget your ‘normal’ registration as a participant in the Medieval Studies Day by sending an email to ozsmed@rug.nl!

Kind regards,

Marco Mostert