CFP: No Entry – Impenetrable Architecture in Medieval Art (Kalamazoo, MI, May 11 – 14, 2017)

No Entry – Impenetrable Architecture in Medieval Art
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May 11 – 14, 2017 — 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies
Co­-organizers: Danny Smith and Lora Webb, Stanford University
“The depicted door,” Jas Elsner has written of the fourth century Pola Casket, “is a kind of make­believe that might open into the box or out
of which the box’s contents might venture.” The doors of the ivory casket suggest an architectural space, but one that remains wholly
impenetrable to anything but the imagination. Inspired by the recent focus on absconded or hidden art objects, this panel will address the inaccessible architectures of the medieval world to ask: how do we understand space we cannot enter?
Whether in the form of ecclesiastic spaces closed to the public, sarcophagi or censors in the form of microarchitectural models, or ruined or destroyed spaces, much of the interior architectural space of the medieval period remains steadfastly impenetrable. How can we, as scholars, interpret spaces into which we can never ourselves enter? How does the study of medieval architecture change when the architectural space is impenetrable? Does painted architecture, micro­architecture, or lost architecture demand a different kind of methodology?
We welcome all papers pertinent to the study of impenetrable or impossible architecture in a medieval context. Topics may include:
micro­architecture, visionary architecture, spatial or architectural ekphrasis, lost or ruined architecture, medieval architectural models, the
social stratification of architectural space, or architectural historiography.
Paper proposals should consist of the following:
– Abstract of proposed paper (no more than 350 words)
– Completed Participant Information Form – available on the conference website here:
– CV with contact information.
Danny Smith ( and Lora Webb (

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