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Virtual IMC – major medieval conference goes online

The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of major medieval studies conferences in 2020. However, one of the largest conferences will be taking place, at least virtually.

The International Medieval Congress, which takes place annually at the University of Leeds, will be running a virtual meeting this July, with over 500 people giving papers over a five-day period. Keynote speakers will include Ana Echevarría Arsuaga talking about “Managing Religious Diversity in Iberian Medieval Towns” and Hyunhee Park on “Theorizing Maritime Space Through Pre-Modern Sino-Islamic Connections.”

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About 180 sessions will take place between Monday, July 6th and Friday, July 10th. The theme of this year’s congress is Borders, and many of the papers being given will be touching on issues such as boundaries and frontiers in the medieval world. Several online exhibitions and social events will also be taking place.

Axel Müller, the Director of the International Medieval Congress, explained that there were unique challenges in setting up this event. “We had to do this without access to our usual programming tools and so have continuously had to invent systems and procedures to make this possible,” he said. “This is likely to mean that some people may not feel that they had the same level of response and attention to detail they may expect. We worked as hard as possible in these difficult circumstances and feel we’ve given this our best shot.

“We made some structural changes to the programme – compared to the in-person IMC – and tested a lot of systems available, but only when the vIMC happens will we find out if these systems are able to deliver a good quality event which is rewarding and beneficial to medievalists across the world.”

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Over 2500 people have already registered to attend the congress, representing 58 countries around the world. Many of the people who have signed up are from outside of Europe and who would not have normally been able to physically attend the regular conference. People can still sign up to be part of the congress, but the deadline to register is Friday, June 26th.

The congress organizers have been pleased with the strong interest in creating this virtual event and are looking forward to its launch in just a couple of weeks. Axel Müller adds “this shows that – COVID or no COVID – medieval studies research has not stopped in 2020 and is continuing to be developed – even if some access to primary and secondary material is currently not possible. We feel that this sends a positive message and shows that we medievalists can make a contribution to the continuation of society – even under lockdown conditions, life goes on.”

Click here to learn more about the Virtual International Medieval Congress and to register to attend

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Top Image: Nenad Stojkovic / Flickr

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