MHC Medieval Studies Seminar


Monday, January 30, 2017, 5:15pm to 7:00pm


Barker Center 110 (the Thompson Room)

Blurred Boundaries: Defining the "East" in Medieval Studies, a panel discussion with Anne Broadbridge (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Michael Penn (Stanford University), John Zaleski (Harvard University), and Charles Stang (Harvard Divinity School). Preceded by the Spring welcome reception of the Committee on Medieval Studies.

Just as Medieval Studies continues to debate about when the "Middle Ages" begins and ends, so too it continues to wonder where its territory begins and ends. If, for better or worse, the traditional focus of Medieval Studies has been on Europe (the Latin West and to a lesser extent the Byzantine world), how far south or east should or might it reach now? Following up on our 2015 symposium "Medieval/Africa", with its turn to the south, this panel focuses upon the eastern edge of Medieval Studies, where Europe meets Asia. More specifically, we will consider life in the "borderlands," places where boundaries are fluid or indistinct: political ones between Byzantium and the Caliphate, and between Islamic polities and their Central Asian neighbors; confessional ones between Jews, Christians, and Muslims; or linguistic ones between speakers of Latin and Greek, Syriac and Arabic, Persian and Mongol. This panel brings together a group of scholars who work in these borderlands from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, discussing how boundaries were maintained and policed and, just as crucially, eroded and transgressed across the "medieval east".