Calls for Papers/Jun 29, 2022

The Arts and Rituals of Pilgrimage

The Arts and Rituals of Pilgrimage lead image

The Arts and Rituals of Pilgrimage, University of Cyprus, December 1–3, 2022

The Network for Medieval Arts & Rituals (NetMAR), an international, interdisciplinary network investigating the overlaps between medieval arts and rituals, invites applications for 20-minute papers that address the broad theme of Arts & Rituals of Pilgrimage. The conference will be held at the premises of the University of Cyprus on 01-03 December 2022.

Pilgrimage is a religious practice that, though originating in antiquity and still active in various forms, constitutes the predominant ritual of the Middle Ages. Rich evidence from various traditions shows that medieval pilgrimage was not only a ritual by itself but that it also involved other rituals – and that it in fact operated through them. Medieval pilgrims engaged in a series of rituals before, during, and after their religious journey(s). Furthermore, they participated in rituals that were performed on pilgrimage sites: sanctuaries, shrines, cult churches, cathedrals, and monasteries.

Moreover, as an essential element of medieval social, political, and religious life, pilgrimage was a relational and complex practice. Its power and efficacy did not only emanate from its associated rituals, but also from its arts. In fact, visual, literary, and performing arts were the sine qua non of medieval pilgrimage, just as they were integral elements of all important medieval rituals. For example, church music and church furnishings – such as icons, panels, sculptures, tapestries, precious books, and other liturgical objects – were not independent artistic expressions (as most scholars tend to treat them) but parts of ecclesiastical rituals for which they were created and used. In short, the transformative experience that pilgrims sought through pilgrimage was achieved through the interaction of arts and rituals.

The conference invites papers from scholars of all career levels that engage with questions and themes including but not limited to:

  • The practice of pilgrimage and its place in medieval literature and visual arts
  • Pilgrimage in literature and literature as pilgrimage
  • Pilgrimage in painting/sculpture/music/rhetoric and/or performance
  • The architecture of pilgrimage
  • The communities of pilgrimage-goers and of pilgrimage sites
  • Pilgrim routes
  • The afterlives of pilgrimages