CfP “Freedom of speech in the medieval and early modern society” (UGent 17–18 May 2019)

This interuniversity workshop hosted by Ghent University is the first in an alternating series of three on ‘freedom of speech’ in late medieval and early modern Europe. By drawing together research on several European countries in the period 1300-1700, the series will reveal various perspectives on premodern free speech. Freedom of speech, i.e. ‘the right to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction’, was by no means a fundamental right in the late medieval and early modern period. Yet research has shown that there were several opportunities for the expression of critical opinion towards power holders and that this practice was often widespread. These could be uttered verbally, through the spoken or written word, but also through other sign systems and media, ranging from the sound of musical instruments to heraldic languages. The objective of this workshop is to connect the different segments of research and thereby create a better overall understanding of pre-modern free speech.

We are accepting proposals from a variety of disciplinary angles for 30-minute papers on
• Pre-modern ideas about ‘freedom of speech’
• Juridical practices on free speech and subversive verbal utterances
• Political narratives and lyric
• Non-verbal media of ‘free-speech’ (visual, multimedia, sound…)
• …
Applicants are strongly encouraged to present papers in English. French papers will be accepted as well, if the powerpoint presentation is in English. Please send an abstract of 200 words to or by the 10th of january 2019. Applicants will be notified by the 10th of february.

See the website