Call for Papers – The Language of Maps: Communicating through cartography during the Middle Ages and Renaissance

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 The Language of Maps: Communicating through Cartography during the Middle Ages and Renaissance

A colloquium and exhibition at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Thursday June 23 to Saturday June 25 2011

A CALL FOR PAPERS: Historic maps have broad appeal in contemporary cultures around the world. One reason for this – it might be thought – is because the ‘language of maps’ is universal and straightforward, but is it? How do maps communicate to us? How do they work? This Colloquium seeks to explore these important questions by bringing together scholars whose interest lies in the visual and textual ‘languages’ of manuscript and printed maps from the medieval and Renaissance periods of European history. Original paper contributions on the theme of ‘communicating through cartography’ are sought that will help further our understanding and appreciation of the complexity of medieval and Renaissance maps and map-making. Papers may be theoretical, empirical or methodological in orientation, as long as they address ‘how maps work’.

The Colloquium is intentionally multidisciplinary, so contributions will be welcomed from art, linguistic and literary historians, geographers and archaeologists, as well as cartographers and historians of cartography. The emphasis will be on the artistic, linguistic and palaeographical aspects of historic maps and processes of their production and consumption across medieval and Renaissance Europe. We aim to draw connections between cartographic representations of all kinds, whether manuscript or printed maps, including those of regions, countries or local landscapes. The technologies of map-production – including surveying and draughting – will be under scrutiny too, for the scientific and artistic expertise involved in making maps in the past was integral to communicating through cartography, as indeed it still is today.

The Colloquium marks the ending of an AHRC-funded research project on the renowned “Gough Map of Great Britain”, the earliest map to show Britain in geographically-recognizable form, dating to the end of the fourteenth century. To celebrate the project’s conclusion, the Bodleian Library will be holding an exhibition displaying the Gough Map at the same time as the Colloquium presents the findings of the research and sees the launch of the project’s online resource, a searchable digital version of the Gough Map.

For further information on “The Language of Maps” and to submit a paper proposal (an abstract of 250 words), please email Dr Keith Lilley at k.lilley@qub.ac.uk, or mail to School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, BT7 1NN. All paper proposals must be received by 10 January 2011. Further details on the Colloquium, Exhibition and “Linguistic Geographies” Research Project can be found at www.goughmap.org

Sharan Newman