Global Approaches to the Middle Ages


Location: London Global Gateway

The third Global History Seminar of the season is a panel discussion with Carol Symes (Associate Professor of History, University of Illinois), James Barrett (Reader in Medieval Archaeology, University of Cambridge), and Elizabeth Lambourn (Reader in South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester). Chris Wickham (Chichele Professor of Medieval History, University of Oxford), will chair the panel and Nicholas Vincent (Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia), will reply.

This interdisciplinary panel discussion marks the appearance of the new journal The Medieval Globe.

The concept of ‘the medieval’ has long been essential to global imperial ventures, nationalist ideologies, and the discourse of modernity. Yet the projects enabled by this powerful construct have essentially hindered investigation of the world’s interconnected territories during a millennium of movement and exchange. The mission of TMG is to reclaim this ‘middle age’ and to place it at the center of global studies. TMG accordingly provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars of all world areas by focusing on convergence, movement, and interdependence. It advances a new theory and praxis of medieval studies by bringing into view phenomena that have been rendered practically or conceptually invisible by anachronistic boundaries, categories, and expectations: polities, networks, affinity groups, artistic influences, identities, bodies of knowledge, faiths, and forms of association. TMG also broadens discussion of the ways that medieval processes inform the global present and shape visions of the future.
This event will take place at Fischer Hall (1 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG)

Speaker Bios


Carol Symes is the founding executive editor of The Medieval Globe. Educated at Yale and Oxford, she subsequently trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and pursued an acting career while earning the Ph.D at Harvard.  She is currently Associate Professor of History, Theatre, and Medieval Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was named Lynn M. Martin Professorial Scholar in 2011.  Her research ranges widely, from the reception of ancient performance practices to medieval manuscript studies to modern medievalisms; fundamentally, she deals with questions of knowledge transmission and dissemination.  Her first book, A Common Stage: Theatre and Public Life in Medieval Arras (2007), won four awards, including the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association and the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America.  Her current book project, Bodies of Text: Acts of Writing and the Work of Documentation in Northwestern Europe, 1000-1215 recaptures the embodied, material, and performative practices that enabled the inscription, publication, and interpretation of written records during this crucial period.
Elizabeth Lambourn’s research is situated at the intersection of history and material culture and focuses on mercantile communities and cultures, coastal spaces and port cities, the inhabitation of maritime spaces and oceanic histories across the medieval and early modern Indian Ocean. During 2011-13 she held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for her project West Asia in the Indian Ocean 500-1500 CE and was concurrently Visiting Scholar at Stanford University's Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. She is currently finishing her monograph, Abraham’s Luggage. A Social Life of Things in the Indian Ocean World, a study of mobility and identity between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean based on Geniza sources.

James Barrett is a medieval archaeologist and historical ecologist, with special interests in the 'long' Viking Age, political economy, migration, 'boom and bust' cycles, fisheries and the comparative study of maritime societies. He is currently a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellow, writing a book on long-range trade in the north, AD 900-1400. He will speak briefly on the relevance of the globalization concept to medieval archaeology and history.