Call for Proposals: The Middle Ages as a Digital Experience (Online Conference)

December 3, 2021

Following the success of last year's Medievalisms on the Screen conference (recordings here), organized by PhD students from the Department of Medieval Studies, the call for proposals is open now for The Middle Ages as a Digital Experience conference, which will be held online on April 21–23, 2022.

Deadline: January 31, 2022. Paper proposals, no longer than 250 words in length for a 20-minute paper, should be sent to the organizing team at medievalisms@ceu.edu.

Digital media has become a key player in shaping our understanding of historical events. Videogames, series, films, among others, offer an ever-increasing repertoire of experiences of the Middle Ages. Part of the popularity of these productions relies on the fact that they offer a unique sensory experience to the spectator. They stun us through awe-inspiring visuals, immerse us with the reconstruction of daily-life sound, and engage us with compelling stories of people we can relate to. Digital productions invite us to be witnesses and protagonists in increasingly complex reconstructions of a long-lost medieval past. The pedagogical potential of these productions is difficult to deny. They can be used to re-contextualize everyday objects, reconstruct and explore places lost to time, revitalize the popular interest in heritage sites, and engage a large and diverse audience with historiographical debates both about the Middle Ages themselves, and the way we perceive them today.

However, the use of digital media also faces drawbacks and challenges. Although these productions may allow us to explore the streets of a medieval city, it is hardly the same as what a person of the past lived. The mind frame and social conventions that led people to experience it in a particular way have changed, and no technological advancement can bridge this temporal abyss. The experience offered by digital media should be best understood as a model of the Middle Ages that we superimpose on the past. As Benedetto Croce points out:
“All history is contemporary history.” However, the sensorial appeal behind films, series, and videogames engages the spectator to such a level that the distinction between the reconstruction and the historical past can be easily blurred.

The purpose of our second Medievalisms on the Screen conference is to discuss the productions, potentials, drawbacks and challenges of inclusive and immersive experiences of the Middle Ages that digital media may entwine. By inclusive and immersive, we especially signify disability-friendliness from various forms of digital experiences in which all people can participate equally, independently, with choice and dignity.

Contributions might include, but are not limited to:

  • Simulation, representation and experience.
  • Production value in medieval digital media.
  • Ludonarrative and procedural rhetoric.
  • Accuracy vs. authenticity.
  • Music, soundtrack and audio reconstruction of medieval environments.
  • Emotions in medieval digital media.
  • Disability and accessibility.
  • Global Middle Ages.
  • Cultural heritage, museums and virtual reconstruction.
  • Digital experience vs. reenactment.
  • Fantasy medieval experiences.

Organizing team: Juan Manuel Rubio Arévalo, Karolina Anna Kotus, Vania Buso, Halil Evren Sünnetcioglu, Juan Bautista Juan-López