Religious Life, Elites, and Medieval Culture Conference

Fra Angelico, Coronation of the Virgin.
Convent of San Marco, Florence


An International Conference Hosted by The University of Alabama, in Partnership with the University of Dresden


October 17-20, 2018
Tuscaloosa, Alabama




For a thousand years and more, from the sixth to the sixteenth century and beyond, monks, nuns, canons, friars, and others under religious vows stood at the pinnacle of Western European society. For their learning, piety, and expertise, and for their embodiment of Christian ideals and values, they were accorded positions of power and influence, and a wide range of legal, financial and social privileges. This international and interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the phenomenon of medieval cultural elites through the lives and experiences of these men and women. Its participants seek to uncover the essential markers of religious life’s elite status, and how those under vows claimed and manifested that status in complex spiritual, temporal, and social combinations. We seek also to explore the workings of elite status from day to day, across region and locale—who earned it and how, whether through specific achievements or the deployment of specific capacities; who recognized, conferred, or helped maintain elite status, how and why; how elite status could be redefined, contested or rejected. We seek also to understand how these European religious elites compared to those found in other cultures and settings, from Syria and South Asia to the early modern transatlantic world.

The conference schedule is available below (click to enlarge). A PDF of the conference schedule is available here.

For more information, contact Dr. James Mixson.