CFP Dec 14, 2012

Materializing the Spirit (London, 5-7 Sep 13)

Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London, Sep 5–07, 2013
Deadline: Feb 1, 2013

Ayla Lepine


The History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland Annual
Conference will be hosted by the Institute of Historical Research,
University of London, on 5-7 September 2013.

Paper proposals are now invited. Presentations should be 20 minutes in
duration, and should address some element of the conference theme,
with reference to British and/or Irish contexts.
The devotional and vocational activities of women religious sculpted
the physical space of religious houses in unique ways. Patterns of use
were etched into the fabric of buildings, guiding structural design
and interior decoration. But buildings also shaped practice: whether
the formal monastic sites of early or revived enclosed orders or the
reused secular buildings of active congregations, women both adapted
and adapted to their material surroundings.

A growing body of literature has addressed itself to convent art,
exploring nuns as patrons, consumers and manufacturers of material and
visual culture. These practices span the history of women’s religious
life – from the early Middle Ages to the present day - and suggest a
hidden but dynamic tradition of artistic enterprise. This conference
explores the creative output of women religious including but not
limited to textiles and the decorative arts, illuminated manuscripts
and printed books, women’s patronage of painting and architecture, the
commercial production of ecclesiastical textiles in the
nineteenth-century, production of liturgical and devotional art in
recent periods, and the development of unique convent and
institutional spaces by and for women religious.

Key aims of the conference will be to highlight the scholarly value of
these under-researched and little known spaces and collections and
also to raise awareness and discuss the threats that they face as
communities decline, buildings close, artefacts and archives are

This conference will take a broad and diverse view on what constitutes
‘material culture’, emphasizing the conception, production, and
meanings of the many material outputs of convents and monasteries.
Papers are welcomed from a diverse range of disciplines: scholars from
social and religious history, art and architecture, theology,
anthropology, psychology and beyond are invited to offer fresh and
innovative perspectives in order to illuminate ways in which women
religious in Britain and Ireland created and were formed by material
histories for over a thousand years.

Please send 200-word proposals for 20-minute papers to conference
conveners Kate Jordan ( and Ayla Lepine ( by no later than 1 February 2013.

CFP: Materializing the Spirit (London, 5-7 Sep 13). In:, Dec 14, 2012 (accessed Jun 19, 2024), <>.