B. Tapestry

39th Annual New England Medieval Conference:

"Objects of Desire: the Materiality of Medieval Culture"

October 12-13, University of Massachusetts, Amherst








We inhabit a world filled with material objects.  As these objects circulate through our lives, they take on different meanings at different times, affect our emotions, our desires, our fears, and our hopes.  From naming cars to keeping umbrellas closed indoors, we seem to endow objects with lives of their own.  “Objects of Desire” will turn to the Middle Ages to ask: what are the totemic powers of everyday things?  How do things of the household, not only devotional objects per se, but also tools, furnishings, and ornaments of everyday life, intersect with literary and artistic practice?  How do encounters with new objects ripple through social and literary practice?  And how can we tell if and when such things have had any effect at all?


9:00 – 9:15: Welcome


9:15 – 10:45: Keynote Address:


Sarah Stanbury, English, College of the Holy Cross: "Chaucer’s Interiors"

        Respondent: Michelle Warren, Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College


10:45 – 11:00: Coffee Break


11:00 – 12:30: Session 1


Arthur Bahr, English, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “The Manifold Singularity of Pearl


Janet Snyder, Art History, West Virginia University: "The Stuff of Stuffs: The Origins, Character, and Implications of Eastern Textiles Represented in Western Images during the 12th Century"


12:30 – 1:30: Lunch (All Conference Attendees and Speakers are invited.)


1:30 – 3:00: Session 2


Nancy Khalek, Religious Studies, Brown University: “Source Criticism and Material Culture in the Study” of Medieval Islam: Corrective and Supplementary Evidence”


Paul Freedman, History, Yale University, Yale University:Medieval Food and Social Prestige”


3:00 – 3:30: Coffee Break


3:30 – 5:00: Session 3


Robin Fleming, History, Boston College: “Things Buried with Dead Women and Children in the Early Middle Ages”


Daniel Lord Smail, History, Harvard: "Investment and Objects of Desire in the Mediterranean Household (Marseille and Lucca, ca.1330-1430)"


5:00 – 5:15: Final Remarks


6:00: Reception for at the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College (All Conference Attendees and Speakers are invited)


7:00: Dinner at the Lord Jeffrey Inn, Amherst (An extra charge in addition to the registration fee.  Anyone who wants to come to this dinner MUST preregister before the conference.)




To register for the conference, please click here. This link will direct you to a webpage maintained by the University of Massachusetts.


Conference housing is available at the UMass Hotel at the Campus Center.  Due to the limited number of rooms there, we also have space at the Howard Johnson in Hadley, Massachusetts.  The Howard Johnson is only a couple miles from UMass.  You may access housing through the registration web site or call these places directly.


UMass Hotel at the Campus Center, 877-822-2110



Howard Johnson, Hadley, 413-586-0114 (http://www.hampshirehospitality.com/howardjohnson/howard_johnson.html)


We recommend that you book a room early.  The Campus Center rooms need to be booked by September 14.  The Howard Johnson rooms need to be booked by September 12.  Graduate students traveling from out of town should contact Jenny Adams (jadams@english.umass.edu) to inquire about staying with a local graduate student.


Basic Registration for the conference is $55. 

Independent scholars may register for $35. 

Graduate students are free, as are any students and faculty members affiliated with the Five Colleges.  


All conference attendees will be offered morning muffins and coffee, a boxed lunch, and a wine reception on Saturday night.  Those who would like to join the speakers and the organizing committee for dinner after the reception may do so for an additional $39.


Regardless of registration status, UMass Conference Services will assess a $35 late registration fee if you register after September 28.


All talks will take place in the Campus Center at UMass in Room 160.  This is in the lower basement of the Campus Center very near the bottom of the building’s escalator.


For a campus map, please click here.

Parking is available in the Parking Garage for a minimal fee.  All other lots on campus are free after 5:00 on Friday and then all throughout the weekend.




For any other questions regarding the conference, including questions about disability access and/or special services required to accommodate a disability, please contact Jenny Adams (jadams@english.umass.edu) or Nancy Bradbury (nbradbur@smith.edu).

Framingham State University

100 State Street

PO Box 9101

Framingham, MA 01701-9101


Phone: 508-620-1220

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