CALL FOR PAPERS: Royal Nunneries at the Centre of Medieval Europe: Art, Architecture, Aesthetics, 11th-14th Centuries

CALL FOR PAPERS: Royal Nunneries at the Centre of Medieval Europe: Art, Architecture, Aesthetics, 11th-14th Centuries

Place Prague, Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Husova 4, CZECH REPUBLIC
Organizer Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
More info

Within the late-medieval monastic universe, royal foundations share characteristics identifiable across
their specific political contexts and beyond the space-time mapping of artistic and architectural phenomena. Endowed
with special privileges and enriched by royal and aristocratic donations, monasteries connected to the ruling houses
often worked as instrumenta regni; they were active cultural hubs, stages for royal and courtly promotion, and places
of personal and dynastic self-representation. In this context, female monasteries offer the additional possibility to
investigate the agency of female élites in medieval society and their role as patrons and addressees of architecture and
artistic products. While female monasteries and convents have benefitted over the past decades from unprecedented
attention, fostering the reconsideration of the categories of medieval ‘art’ and ‘aesthetics’, a specific focus on royal
foundations across Europe is still a desideratum.

This conference is dedicated to the art, architecture and material culture of female monasteries patronized
by the ruling dynasties in medieval Europe between the 11th and the 14th centuries. This subset has been studied mostly
within national academic schools resulting in separate parallel narratives of phenomena which in most cases were, in fact,
related on a trans-regional scale thanks to dynastic and diplomatic connections, and also to female networks based
on ties of faith and blood. The ambition of the meeting is to gather scholars interested in both testing and transcending
these historiographic borders and in challenging the interpretative scheme of a top-down oriented feudal structure
in favour of a network perspective. The final aim is to detect and discuss artistic, architectural, and aesthetic discourses
acting on a synchronic and diachronic scale across late medieval Europe.

The conference will take place on 2-4 July 2020 in Prague’s Na Františku double convent founded by the Přemyslid princess
St. Agnes with her brother, king Wenceslas I—the location itself an exemplary case study for on-site analysis and
discussion. The intention is to start from the Bohemian and Moravian nunneries connected to the Přemyslid royal family
and to extend out from Central Europe to a series of other European case studies.
We welcome papers from art and architectural historians, as well as from scholars in adjacent fields,
focusing on a case study, a region, or royal/courtly entourage, and posing theoretical and methodological questions which
could offer a bridge for comparative discussions. Case studies that do not directly deal but can be fruitfully compared with
royal female monasteries are also encouraged.

Key topics might include, but are not limited to
—— issues of gender related to patronage and life in the royal nunnery;
—— the political and dynastic values of female foundations and their reflections in art;
—— the design, decoration, and furnishing of spaces, between clausura and public areas;
—— the construction of models of female memoria and feminine holiness;
—— visual material and spiritual visualization in the royal nunnery between aesthetics, theology, and politics;
—— royal nunneries as stage of self-representation, inside and outside the royal entourage;
—— genealogies and memory within the nunnery;
—— religious orders and royal foundations: special rules, transgressions, reforms;
—— beyond clausura: patterns and networks of people, objects, relics, iconographies;
—— national historiographies: trends, conflating and converging views

Submissions for 20-minute presentations in English, including an abstract of max. 300 words and a short CV
(max. 1 page), can be sent to and by 29 February 2020.
The organizing institutions will provide accommodation for speakers and offer a contribution for travel expenses.
A selection of papers from the conference will be published—after a process of double-blind peer review
evaluation—in the journal Convivium (Brno-Prague-Lausanne/Brepols Publishers).