Appel à contribution – The Boundaries of Monastic Institutions

Session organisers: Simone Wagner (Universität Erfurt), Johannes Waldschütz (Independent Scholar, City Museum Stockach) Sponsor: Universität Erfurt, Max-Weber-Kolleg, Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies, Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations

Capture d’écran 2019-09-18 à 19.31.31

Monasteries usually secluded themselves from the world by building walls around their institutions. These walls did not only have a religious meaning but also a legal and administrative one. The physical aspect was tied to imagined boundaries being created between the religious and the secular. Imagined and physical boundaries interacted.

Nevertheless, it varied how much religious communities sought to isolate themselves. The relationship between the religious and the secular sphere was highly contested throughout the middle ages. Especially in the case of less regulated communities, the boundaries were permeable and space was used both by religious as well as secular actors. Since enclosure was seen as especially important for female monasteries, monastic boundaries and their permeability seem to have been gendered.

However, apart from spiritual matters monasteries were also concerned about the boundaries of their possessions. Charters and cartularies include detailed descriptions of the boundaries of specific possessions. Chronicles and vitae show how nuns and monks hoped to protect their possessions through performative acts such as processions with relics.

We are organising a range of sessions connected to all aspects of monastic boundaries. Papers may include but are not limited to the following points

  • The physical remains of monastic boundaries such as walls, boundary stones or gates
  • The way in which boundaries are depicted in literary, legal and visual sources
  • How monastic boundaries were constructed conceptually as well as performatively
  • The challenges and conflicts arising from boundaries of religious institutions e.g.
    securing monastic possessions and their boundaries
  • The permeability of boundaries between the religious and the secular sphere and
    shared space (co-spatiality)
  • The gendered dimensions of monastic boundaries

We are inviting students and scholars at any point in their career and from all fields, including history, archeology, religion, art history, literature and codicology to submit paper proposals of no more than 250 words on any medieval period, monastic order and geographical region.

Please submit the proposals and your contact information to Simone Wagner ( and Johannes Waldschuetz ( by September 25th 2019.

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