Medieval Studies Conference - Asia in the Middle Ages

Travelling to Asia for the year 2018, the program of Medieval Studies brings multiple perspectives on the medieval world and on the recent developments of Medieval Studies as a discipline. When and where historical and religious frameworks are not defined by the former Roman Empire nor by the rise of Christianity, the notions of Middle Ages or Renaissance do not seem to fit. Or do they? Would they allow us to think a global world, before the modern colonial empires?

Researchers from the Pacific and Asian Studies and specialists of travel, as well as historians of art, will explore the contacts and cultural exchanges beyond the imaginary Asia constructed by travelers (merchants or pilgrims) and story-tellers (such as Marco Polo or John of Mandeville). Attested by trade, literature, arts, people and objects, the dialogue between East and West before the Columbus expedition tells us about medieval conceptions of the universe, of humankind, and of cultures. On the Pacific Rim, it also tells us about our own cultural memories and projects.

The program of talks will contrast the vision of Asia transmitted by Westerners and the vision of the middle ages developed in Asia. It will highlight the diversity of these narratives with round tables about travel and travellers, in the morning, and presentations on India, China, and Japan. The noon recital, organized by Douglas Hensley, will bring us to the different musical worlds of the Silk Road.

The keynote lecture, delivered by Dr. Wendy Schwarz, will present “The Critical Mandate: Early Medieval China’s Theories of Literature”.

Asia in the Middle AgesLansdowne Lecture