Features News

Missing out on medieval conferences? The Medieval Academy of America comes to the rescue with Virtual Meeting

The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of the upcoming major medieval conferences to be cancelled for this year – leaving many medievalist yearning for papers on Arthurian literature or Carolingian law books. However, the Medieval Academy of America (MAA) has been able to create a Virtual Conference, which will be taking place from this Friday to Sunday – which will be free and open to all.

Over thirty papers will be given live during the next three days, all of which can be accessed through the Zoom video conferencing service. The event begins on Friday at noon (EST) with the opening remarks and the Presidential Address. This year’s speaker is Ruth Mazo Karras, who will speak on ‘The Regulation of Sexuality in the Twelfth Century?’ You can access this session at


This will be followed by Academy sessions on Friday and Saturday, with papers ranging from ‘Law and Capitulary: Lombard Law-Books in the Long Tenth Century’ to ‘What Did the Medieval Laity Hear When They Heard Latin?’. On Sunday the conference is turned over to the Committee for Centers and Regional Associations (CARA) meeting, which deals with the organization of various medieval institutions and groups, and on improving the teaching of medieval studies.

To see the full schedule of events, please visit

The papers at this virtual conference were to be given at the Academy’s annual meeting, which was to take place at the University of California, Berkeley, from March 26-28th. The conference was cancelled earlier this month, like many other events worldwide, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing.


The organizers decided to create a virtual conference, and over the last couple of weeks set up the meeting. Lisa Fagin Davis, the Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America, explains that “after some research, we determined that Zoom Webinars were the best fit for our needs, in terms of technical features and pricing. Program Committee Co-chairs Maureen Miller and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe established the new program, and I worked closely with MAA webmaster Christopher Cole to set up the technical side.

“The virtual conference is free and open to all. Sessions will be recorded and posted at a later date if all panelists agree to make the session public. Although attendees will not have audio, video, or screen-sharing privileges, they will have the ability to use Zoom’s “raise hand” feature to ask questions and engage in a dialogue with panelists.”

A few papers have already been pre-recorded, and are now available on MAA’s Youtube page. These include two plenary addresses:

Teofilo Ruiz: “Two Families and One Artist on the Eve of the Expulsion: Jews, Conversos, Foreigners, and Muslims Living in Avila, 1440s-1492”


Kim M. Phillips: “Gendering the Medieval Expansion of Europe: Men Washed Up”

“It’s no substitute for the in-person experience,” says Lisa Fagin Davis, “but we are hopeful that the virtual conference will at least enable panelists and attendees to safely learn from one another without the cost and environmental impact associated with planning and attending a site-based meeting. May St. Isidore of Seville, patron Saint of the internet, smile upon us!”

Top Image: Smiling angel at the Cathedral of Reims – photo by Campiana / Wikimedia Commons