Annual International Congress on Medieval Studies to convene virtually

Contact: Deanne Puca

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Medieval scholars from around the world will come together virtually May 9 to 14 for the 57th celebration of the Western Michigan University International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Typically held on campus but moved to a virtual format during the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is hosted by Western's Medieval Institute and has attracted scholars, students, librarians, museum curators and other medieval studies enthusiasts.

Session topics this year range from exploring race in literature, using gaming in classrooms, concepts of death and monsters, and restoring medieval art and architecture. The sessions are in a variety of formats, many taking the form of a series of academic paper presentations. Others are panel discussions, roundtables, demonstrations and workshops. View the program.

While not the traditional format for the congress—the event has previously attracted thousands to campus to mingle, visit and purchase medieval books and sundries from vendors—organizers gathered feedback from last year's virtual event and made changes, including new ways for attendees to keep their conversations going after sessions and live premieres with discussion for the plenary lectures. "Mining the Collection: Kalamazoo Edition," another innovation for this year’s congress, also brings five virtual visits to museums across North America.

"We're excited and thrilled by the continuing attendance of and support from medievalists all over the world. It's heartening to see that the pandemic has not dampened scholarly interest in and enthusiasm for the middle ages," says Dr. Jana K. Schulman, director of the Medieval Institute.

A virtual Exhibits Hall, which showcases a diverse international selection of academic presses, online databases and learned societies, is open to the public now; registration is not required. Open around the clock, participants can wander through “booths” to check out exclusive sales, flip through the latest catalogs and ask questions about their offerings.

Special events, both live and prerecorded, are available exclusively to those registered for the congress and include two plenary lectures, the annual lecture on the reception of the classics, behind-the-scenes visits to museums and a virtual talent show. Online registration is open through Saturday, May 28, which is the last day recorded sessions will be available to view. Kalamazoo County residents may register for a fee of $5. All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time.

Drs. Geraldine Heng and Ruth Mazo Karras

(Left to right) Drs. Geraldine Heng and Ruth Mazo Karras


Most events will be recorded and made available to registrants May 16-28, unless noted.

Concert with interview

  • Monday, May 9, 5 p.m.—"Le Roman de Fauvel," lusty music with dazzling images from the 14th-century epic satire of political influence and utter incompetence, performed by Mary Springfels and Severall Friends and followed by an interview with Springfels.

Special plenary lectures

  • Tuesday, May 10, 3 p.m.—"An Ordinary Ship and Its Stories of Early Globalism," followed by a discussion with the speaker, Dr. Geraldine Heng, University of Texas at Austin, and sponsored by the Medieval Academy of America. This plenary lecture will be presented live and will not be recorded.

Dr. Joanna Story

  • Thursday, May 12, 11 a.m.—"Threatening That He Would Break Her Bones: Compulsion in Late Medieval Marriage," followed by a discussion with the speaker Dr. Ruth Mazo Karras, Trinity College Dublin, and sponsored by Medieval Institute Publications and De Gruyter.

Richard Rawlinson Center Congress Speaker lecture

  • Wednesday, May 11, 9 a.m.—"Insular Vellum: Using Biocodicology to Understand Manuscript Production in the Insular World, ca. 650–850," Dr. Joanna Story, University of Leicester, and Dr. Matthew Collins, Københavns Universitet/University of Cambridge.

Reception of the Classics in the Middle Ages lecture

  • Saturday, May 14, 1 p.m.—"The Book of the World Split Open: The First Line of the Medieval Georgics," Dr. Christopher Baswell, Barnard College, with a response by Dr. Marjorie Woods, University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Christopher Baswell

Virtual talent show

Upload a short video to the virtual talent show through Saturday, May 14, and the video will be made available to congress registrants within two days. Participants can express themselves through music, spoken word, dance, visual art, costumes and more. Videos remain available for viewing by congress registrants until Saturday, May 28.

58th Congress


The 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies takes place May 11-13, 2023. It will include traditional in-person sessions, virtual sessions via our online platform and some new blended-format sessions that make it possible for speakers to present and audiences to attend both in-person and online. Proposals for sessions and papers both from scholars planning to attend the event in Kalamazoo and those attending virtually from around the world are welcome. The portal for session proposals  is open through June 1, 2022.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.