Travel and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern World
Bangor (RU, 3-5 sept. 2015)

Biennial conference, 3rd-5th September 2015, Bangor University

Keynote Speakers:
Michal Biran (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
Daniel Carey (National University of Ireland, Galway)
Judith Jesch (University of Nottingham)

The meeting points between travel, mobility, and conflict are numerous. Travel can be a conflictual experience; in medieval Europe, movement may be perceived as being restricted to travel motivated by the exigencies of piety, pillage, or trade. It would however be too easy to suggest a clear binary between a medieval state of stasis and the more leisurely travel and exploration in the early modern period. Until relatively recently, domestic travel and voyages to the wider world remained dangerous undertakings.

Utopian fiction and travel writing are two genres that have been closely aligned by scholars who recognise how these genres reshape medieval discourses on the ideal state for an early modern audience. Weary travellers arrive at geographically unspecified places comprising ideal societies, but these ideal societies occupy a liminal space between fiction and reality: these spaces are ultimately unattainable due to the imprecision and prevarication present in the narrative. This draws to focus tensions within documenting imaginary travel and the material world. Far from being a site of concord, they become spaces of conflict. Travel « whether it is real or imagined, or if it has been implemented for public or private purposes » can be obstructed by conflicts; it remains often restricted and always bitterly debated.

This interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars working in the fields of medieval and early modern studies to interrogate the relationship between travel and conflict.

Topics might include (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Travel in times of war and conflict
  • Restricted travel
  • Forbidden travel
  • Exile and travel
  • Colonial encounters
  • Piracy
  • Travel, subterfuge and deceit
  • Conflict of body and mind in travel
  • Travel, religion and conversion
  • Conflicting readings of travelogues
  • Debates on travel
  • Liminal spaces
  • Utopian/Dystopian travel
  • Travel and synaesthesia
  • Vagrancy
  • Matter, materiality and the unreal
  • Travel as a violent act
  • Remembering and forgetting travel
  • Conflict between topography and spatial movement
  • Conflict between mapped space and inhabited space
  • Language communication and miscommunication
  • Pilgrimage or Crusade
  • Migration and persecution

We invite abstracts of 200-250 words for individual papers of twenty minutes, or of up to 850 words for panels comprising no more than three papers, to be sent to by 25th January 2015. Please send your abstract in the text of your message, and not in an attached file.

The conference organisers are Rhun Emlyn, Gabor Gelléri, Andrew Hiscock, and Rachel Willie.