Appel à contribution – Archival memory: institutions, texts, and shapes

Medieval charters and archives were a natural component of an institution’s memory: acts and deeds constituted primarily a way to keep and preserve the remembrance of a legal or para-legal action for the future. But beyond this evident fact, such documents could also be used to produce, or take part in, specific memorial discourses.

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Three different levels of granularity are adequate to deal with the issue of “archival memory”: the individual document, the compilation, and the archives.

As for individual documents, foundation charters or deeds which were used as foundation charters by subsequent generations give numerous, yet diverse examples of the building of an archival memory. Single charters could also use a part of their text to directly or indirectly hint at their role as memorial objects, either in a more or less abstract way, or by using historical and pseudo-historical references as an element of their discourse. To name two examples, the preamble of the text was a place where the topic of memory could be developed; and the narratio exposing motives leading to a decision could place them in a historical and memorial context. Graphical components (script, layout, decoration…) may have been implemented as well in a memorial strategy. Silent imitations of previously granted charters, be it in the formulaic components, or in the style, shape, and ornament of the text may be seen as a memorial endeavour: indeed, studies on the influences of chanceries in the handwriting and formulary sometimes take for granted that papal bullae or imperial diplomas were available to be imitated, but the imitation might be an internal issue within the institution. Forgeries may also encompass a graphic and a textual component from the forger’s institution, and imitate the ornamental, scribal and textual components of previous in-house productions. Discriminating the inward efficiency (memoria) and the outward efficiency (claims and rights) in order to better understand the aims of such documents is an open field.

At a second level, compilations comprise obviously cartularies and “cartulary-chronicles”, but also other “archival books”. Books made out of archival material not only had often an explicit memorial component, but could also develop such a role in an implicit way, born of the selection, arrangement and presentation of the copied material. While much has been done on the most ancient cartularies, compilations from the later Middle Ages are still a relatively new, albeit already studied, field of research in that regard. As well as in individual documents, such compilations could retain graphic elements from their models (figured copies, reproduction of script, monograms and validation marks…) or add new ones in order to shape and stage the community and its memory (illuminations…).

Finally, the way documents were kept, their treatment at the hands of medieval archivists, the way archival “collections” were ordered (or not) gave another possibility for charters to participate in the creation of the memoria of an institution.

We welcome proposals for 20 minutes papers exploring the way charters, deeds, acts and related documents as well as their “by-products” were used to produce, participate in or reinforce given memorial discourses and/or structures, whether explicitly or implicitly. While memorial aspects of the question should be at the core of the papers, speakers may also reflect on the role such discourses had in the building of identities. These questions may be approached either from the point of view of the production of the documents or focussing on their reception, including their ancient and modern historiographical use.

Please send your title, abstract (300 words max.) and affiliation to Sébastien Barret (sebastien.barret@cnrs-orleans.fr) and Dominique Stutzmann (dominique.stutzmann@irht.cnrs.fr) before the 20 September 2017. We hope to be able to fund each speaker with approx. 500 €.

Source : De rebus diplomaticis

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