Religious Life, Elites, & Medieval Culture: An International Conference hosted by the University of Alabama, in partnership with the University of Dresden
October 18Free and open to the public
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
The conference will be held from October 17-20, in Gorgas Library, Smith Hall, and the Hotel Capstone.
Free and open to the public