Exploring the Middle Ages
Interdisciplinary medieval conference.
In November 2015, the Faculty of humanities invites to an interdisciplinary conference – Exploring the Middle Ages (500–1600).
The conference will take place in the University Aula at the University Museum, 25–27 November.
The conference addresses a wide spectrum of topics from medieval studies in Bergen: History, philology, archaeology, music, legal history, art history, palaeography and codicology, literary studies and studies of religion.
In addition to various interdisciplinary panels at the University Aula, there will be a concert with the French ensemble Coclico and a reseption in Håkon's hall.
The conference language will be English.
Wednesday 25 November
12:30-13:30 Registration & Coffee
13:30-14:00 Welcome & Opening
14:00-15:00 Keynote Lecture by Professor David Bates
15:30-17:30 Maritime Law and City Law: Travelling in the Nordic Regions
19:00-21:00 Conference dinner (for conference speakers only)
Thursday 26 November
09:00-11:00 The Long Life of the Ancient Gods: Receptions of Pagan Mythologies
11:00-12:15 Medieval Research in Bergen Today: Poster Presentation
12:30-13:30 Lunch (Student Centre)
13:30-15:30 From Manuscript Fragments to Book History
16:00-18:00 Large Funded Projects on Medieval Religion and Literature
18:15 Buses to Håkon's hall. Departure in front of the museum
19:00-20:00 Ars organizandi, Musical Improvisation in the Middle Ages
20:00-21:00 Reception in Håkon's hall
Friday 27 November
09:00-11:00 Perspectives from Below
11:00-12:00 Lunch (Student Centre)
12:00-14:00 Christian Materiality: Practices, Perception and Mediation
14:00-14:20 Summing up
14:30-15:30 Visit of the Church Art Collection, Cultural History Museum
12:30 Registration & Coffee
13:30 Welcome & Opening
14:00 Keynote Lecture by Professor David Bates
15:30 Maritime Law and City Law: Travelling in the Nordic Regions
19:00 Conference dinner (for conference speakers only)
David Bates, Professor, University of East Anglia: Writing Medieval Historical Biography in the Twenty-First Century: the Case of William the Conqueror
Maritime Law and City Law: Travelling in the Nordic Regions
Session based on the Middle Ages law material within the themes maritime law and city law. Aims to examine how the legal situation was for those who traveled over large distances and crossed the territorial boundaries of areas of law. A panel discussion where the audience will be invited to participate with questions and comments.
- Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, Professor, University of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Geir Atle Ersland, Professor, University of Bergen
- Albrecht Cordes, Professor, Goethe University Frankfurt
- Edda Frankot, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen
- Pavel V. Lukin, Senior Research Fellow, Russian Academy of Sciences
09:00 The Long Life of the Ancient Gods: Receptions of Pagan Mythologies
11:00 Medieval Research in Bergen Today: Poster Presentation
12:30 Lunch (Student Centre)
13:30 From Manuscript Fragments to Book History
16:00 Large Funded Projects on Medieval Religion and Literature
18:15 Buses to Håkon's hall. Departure in front of the museum
19:00 Ars organizandi, Musical Improvisation in the Middle Ages
20:00 Reception at Håkon's hall
The Long Life of the Ancient Gods: Receptions of Pagan Mythologies
The numerous medieval Icelandic sources dealing with the heathen gods of the North are unique and unparalleled in other Germanic literatures. Still, these sources have to be evaluated with the Christian milieus of their transmission in mind - as is the case with sources of the pagan past from other European cultures. Thus, this session adopts a medieval European perspective on the material and takes up the learned and literary uses of the heathen pantheon from the High Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. It will focus on the tendency to identify Scandinavian gods with figures foreign to Scandinavia, in particular with the gods of Greece and Rome and with figures from the Troy cycle. This inclination to explain the Norse gods through such identification can be observed even in the oldest textual sources, and has been remarkably long-lived, surviving well into the modern era. Another tendency is to treat heathen gods as literary figures whose shape is influenced by other literary characters and consequently their image develops and changes over time.
- Jens Eike Schnall, Associate Professor, University of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Annette Lassen, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen: Óðinn and Medieval Magicians
- Jonas Wellendorf, Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley: Universalist and Particularist Approaches to Old Norse Mythology
Medieval Research in Bergen Today: Poster Presentation
More than 50 posters are on display during the conference. They cover a wide range of topics and research disciplines and thus indicate the quality and quantity of Medieval Studies in Bergen today. The posters present individual projects, collaborative projects and projected fields of research groups. Many of these are the work of younger scholars educated in Bergen. As such, they bear witness to the traditions and the high level of activity in the field of Medieval Studies. Through these posters you are welcome to explore the richness of Medieval research in Bergen.
From Manuscript Fragments to Book History
This session explores Norwegian medieval book culture and its European connections through surviving manuscript fragments. There will be particular focus on the links to French and English cultural centres. Attendants can browse through sample manuscript fragments in an interactive installation.
- Åslaug Ommundsen, Researcher, University of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Astrid Marner, Post Doctor, University of Bergen: From Fragment to Book and Beyond. Text and Meaning in Liturgical Books
- Michael Gullick, Researcher, University of Bergen: Across the Sea: The Movement of Books between England and Norway
- Synnøve Myking, Research Fellow, University of Bergen: The French Connection
- Patricia Stirnemann, Prof. Emeritus, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT), Paris: Some Highlights from the Norwegian Fragment Collection
Large Funded Projects on Medieval Religion and Literature
In universities today there is a growing emphasis on securing external funding by winning very competitive grants on the local, national, or international level. The speakers on this panel will share their experiences leading large funded projects on a range of topics concerning medieval religion and literature, from fifth-century Egypt to fifteenth-century England. We will learn about their projects' scope, methods, and results so far, and what advice for success these researchers can offer.
- Laura Miles, Associate Professor, University of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Denis Renevey, Professor, University of Lausanne: Looking towards the Future: Late Medieval Devotional Compilations, Now and Then (Project website)
- Hugo Lundhaug, Professor, University of Oslo: New Contexts for Old Texts: Unorthodox Texts and Monastic Manuscript Culture in Fourth- and Fifth-Century Egypt (Project website)
- Liz Herbert McAvoy, Professor, Swansea University: Written in Stone: The Medieval Walled Garden and its Meanings Uncovered (Project website)
Ars organizandi, Musical Improvisation in the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, church singers used to improvise the polyphony "upon the book", adding one, two or three voices to a written gregorian melody. In this talk, the French ensemble Coclico and its artistic director Barnabé Janin explain and demonstrate some of the main medieval techniques for improvising polyphony, from the 9th up to the 15th century.
09:00 Perspectives from Below
11:00 Lunch (Student Centre)
12:00 Christian Materiality: Practices, Perception and Mediation
14:00 Summing up
14:30 Visit of the Church Art Collection, Cultural History Museum
Perspectives from Below
The talks in this session give a presentation of recent trends and studies in archaeology. Implicit in studies ‘from below’ archeological sources set the agenda, and thematically the lives and worlds of ordinary people are at focus. Themes are approached through the lenses of actors from lower levels of the social hierarchy. The studies cross over traditional boarders within archaeology and between culture and nature studies and are in this sense cross disciplinary.
- Alf Tore Hommedal, Associate Professor, University Museum of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Liv Helga Dommasnes, Professor, University Museum of Bergen: Aspects of the Early Middle Age Research in Norway: Perspectives from Below?
- Eva Svensson, Professor, Karlstad University: Innovations: Inventions and Smart Organizations in Rural Medieval Scandinavia
- Irene Baug, Post Doctor, University of Bergen: Archaeology and Geology, Cooperation with Exciting Results
- Gitte Hansen, Associate Professor, University Museum of Bergen: Pioneer Settlers in the New Town Bergen in Western, Norway
- James Barrett, Reader in Medieval Archaeology, University of Cambridge: Northern harvests: Fish, Furs and the Economic Transformation of Medieval Europe
Christian Materiality: Practices, Perception and Mediation
This trans-disciplinary session focus on the instrumental aspects of Christian piety and devotional practices; the interrelationship between material culture and religious life with attention to how music, prayer books, poetry, images etc. intensified and expressed religious sentiments, ideas and piety in Christian Culture. Practices that related to the inter- and multi-mediality of cultic and cultural artefacts, as well as the sensorial and inter-sensorial dimensions of a wide array of cultural concepts and practices within medieval religion with particular relevance to the understanding of cognition and memory in medieval Europe.
- Henning Laugerud, Associate Professor, University of Bergen: Moderator of the panel
- Salvador Ryan, Professor, Pontifical University, St. Patrick’s College: Christ as Lover of the Soul in the Devotional World of Late Medieval Ireland
- Laura Katrine Skinnebach, Post Doctor, Aarhus University: Practices of Perception: Transfigurative Aspects of Late Medieval Devotion
- Justin Kroesen, Assistant Professor, University of Groningen: The Medieval Country Church - Religious History from Below
Visit of the Church Art Collection, Cultural History Museum
Right from the start of Bergens Museum’s foundation in 1825, the church art of the Middle Ages in Norway was at the centre of the museum’s immediate attention. The church art is remnants of the Catholic cult. In the later 19th century, post-reformation church art also came into focus. Welcome to a guided visit of the collection, by the director of the University Museum of Bergen, Henrik von Achen.