The medieval literary canon in the digital age (Gent, 17-18 september 2018)

Ghent, 17-18 September 2018
Jozef Plateaustraat 22

An often repeated promise of the digital humanities, in the wake of the “computational turn,” is
that the wide availability and accessibility of historical texts would enable scholars to breach the
restrictions of a literary canon. The present international conference wishes to explore how exactly the digital humanities can provide such insights for medieval studies, in which such a promise raises critical questions.
1. In spite of the computational turn, much of the digital scholarship for the Middle Ages still
seems to hinge on well-conserved and therefore well-known theological and literary
authorities, whose texts have been reproduced continuously in subsequent editions and
translations. To what extent does today’s computational research manage to escape the
straitjacket of the traditional canon?
2. Considering that in the past decades, medieval scholars have become increasingly sensitive
to the materiality of textual transmission in the Middle Ages, the virtual, normative and
reductive character of a digital environment are not always compatible to their research
As the emancipation of the digital humanities from their merely supportive role is proclaimed
increasingly, and as the tools for digital medieval studies proliferate (e.g. digital scholarly editing, computational stylistics, digital palaeography, digital stemmatology, …), this conference welcomes papers —based on either case studies or broader research questions— that both problematize the specialized character of medieval literary production and demonstrate the potential for computational criticism to “breach” or “widen” the medieval canon through digital tools.

Organisers: Jeroen De Gussem (Ghent University), prof. dr. Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University), prof. dr. Wim Verbaal (Ghent University), prof. dr. Mike Kestemont (University of Antwerp)


September 17 — Monday
– 8.30: Arrival and coffee
– 9.00: Welcome and introduction by Jeroen Deploige
Morning session — Canon
– 9.15: David J. Wrisley (New York University Abu Dhabi [AE]): “Recasting the can(n)ons: Towards a New Generation of Computational Medieval French”
– 10.00: Jean Baptiste Camps & Julien Randon-Furling (École des chartes [FR] & Panthéon-Sorbonne University [FR]): “Was there a ‘Medieval Literary Canon’ in the Middle Ages?”
— 10.35: Coffee break
– 11.00: Julie Orlemanski (University of Chicago [US]): “How to Read Exempla: Challenges of a Text Type”
– 11.35: Wouter Haverals (University of Antwerp [BE]): “The Measure of Middle Dutch: Empirical Assessment of Aesthetic Observations on the Rhythm of Middle Dutch Rhymed Literature”
— 12.20: Lunch
Afternoon session — Text Editions
– 14.00: Peter Robinson (University of Saskatchewan [CA]): “Collaborative Online Editing of a Canonical Textual Tradition”
– 14.45: Lydia Wegener & Nadine Arndt (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities [DE]):“The Benefit of Digital Editions for the Reconstruction of Mystical Discourse: Two Composite Treatises as Test Case”
— 15.20: Coffee break
15.45: Miriam Edlich-Muth (University of Düsseldorf [DE]): “Using Interactive Network Graph Editions of Medieval Manuscripts to Explore the Principles of New Philology”
16.20: Gustavo Fernández Riva (University of Buenos Aires [AR]): “Naming and Renaming Texts. Distant Reading of Middle High German Rubrics in Miscellany Manuscripts”
– 17.30: City Walk (with Tineke Van Gassen)
– 19.30: Conference Dinner
September 18` — Tuesday
– 8.30-9.15: Arrival and coffee
Morning session — Authorship
– 9.15-10.00: Diane Watt & Mary Dockray-Miller (University of Surrey [UK] & Lesley University [US]): “Women’s Patronage, Authorship, and Collaboration in the Medieval Literary Canon”
– 10.00-10.35: Jeroen De Gussem & Jeroen Deploige (Ghent University [BE]): “Between Manuscript and Edition: Scribal (re)writing in Hildegard of Bingen’s Liber Divinorum Operum”
— 10.35: Coffee break
– 11.00: Justin Stover (University of Edinburgh [UK]): “Canonical Texts, Medieval Editors: A Computational Approach?”
– 11.35: Godfried Croenen (University of Liverpool [UK]): “Guillebert de Mets: Scribe, Editor or Author? Digital Tools and the Analysis of the Working Methods of a Late Medieval Flemish Scribe”
— 12.20: Lunch
Afternoon session — Corpus bias
– 14.00: Karina van Dalen-Oskam (University of Amsterdam [NL]): “How to Avoid Corpus Bias: Some Thoughts on Building Digital Research Corpora of Medieval Texts
– 14.45: Eveline Leclercq (Université de Strasbourg [FR]): “Stylometry in Charters: a Practical Test on the Case of Cambrai”
— 15.20: Coffee break
– 15.45: Reima Välimäki (University of Turku [FI]): “Authorship attribution and the Late Medieval Literature: Challenges and Solutions of a Heterogeneous Corpus”
– 16.20: Maciej Eder (Pedagogical University of Kraków [PL]): “What is the Difference Between Prose and Poetry, Really? A Computer-assisted Analysis of Latin Style”
– 16.55: Closing dicussion moderated by Mike Kestemont & Wim Verbaal (University of Antwerp [BE] & Ghent University [BE]).
– 17.30: Reception

– Deadline: before Monday 10 September. Registration
– fee includes lunch and is payable upon arrival.
– contact (Jeroen De Gussem):
Members of the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies
Jozef Plateau Conference Room
Jozef Plateaustraat 22
9000 Ghent

Organising Committee
Jeroen De Gussem, Els De Paermentier, Jeroen Deploige, Veerle Fraeters, Mike Kestemont, Wim Verbaal, Dinah Wouters
Academic Board
Jeroen Deploige, Mike Kestemont, Lars Boje Mortensen, Francesco Stella, Karina van Dalen-Oskam, Wim Verbaal, Frank Willaert

The flyer can be downloaded here: canon-2018-brochure

CfP “Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his predecessors” (Brussel, 24-25 Januari 2019)

Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his predecessors:  

Culture and Visual art and in the late 15th and 16th centuries

Masterclass with Reindert Falkenburg and Michel Weemans, organised by the Vlaamse werkgroep mediëvistiek (VWM) and the Réseau des médiévistes  belges de langue française (RMBLF)

2019 marks the 450th anniversary of the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525/30-1569), one of the most renowned Flemish artists of the 16th century. In Belgium, several exhibitions (at the KBR, the MRBAB-KMSKB, the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, the Castle of Gaasbeek…) and other scientific activities are planned to highlight the artistic production of the master. This “Bruegel year” constitutes a great opportunity for the VWM and the RMBLF to explore this fascinating personality and the artistic, cultural and intellectual context in which he emerged through a vivid dialogue between young and senior scholars. Indeed, we aim at taking part to this celebration by organizing a masterclass with two specialists of Pieter Bruegel’s work, Reindert Falkenburg (NYU Abu Dhabi) and Michel Weemans (ENSA Bourges and EHESS), whose forthcoming book explores the religious and exegetical character of Bruegel’s landscapes and their relationship with landscape painters of the first half of the 16th century such as Hieronymus Bosch, Joachim Patinir or Herri met de Blès.[1] This masterclass will gather up to eight young researchers (PhD students, postdocs, young lecturers) coming from various disciplines (art history, literature, history…) who will have the opportunity to present and discuss their work on the visual art and culture at the time of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and his predecessors with both respondents and the audience.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder is a complex artistic figure. Often considered as “both a proponent and an exponent of popular culture”[2], the Flemish painter was also appreciated and admired by the high nobility whose members praised the exceptional quality of his oeuvre and owned paintings by his hand. His work also enjoyed a great deal of success among a wider audience thanks to the diffusion of his engravings. From an artistic point of view, Bruegel was deeply influenced by the Flemish pictorial tradition of the late 15th and early 16th century, and especially by Hieronymus Bosch. He also played a crucial role in the emergence of genre and landscape painting, a topic which is at the core of the new publication of Michel Weemans and Reindert Falkenburg. Bruegel also had close links with humanists and scholars such as Abraham Ortelius, and with the Antwerp chambers of rhetoric (rederijkerskamers) like the Violieren (the Gillyflower). In other words, he belonged to the Antwerp intellectual circles of his time. His artistic production is deeply influenced by this intellectual and cultural context, just as it nurtured it in return.

Recent scholarship on Bruegel[3] has highlighted the multi-layered complexity of his (painted, printed and drawn) pictures, which are rooted in the rich artistic, cultural and literary context that we will investigate during this masterclass. More precisely, we would like Pieter Bruegel the Elder to act as a prism through which young scholars will explore, among others, the visual interactions between artists and between pictorial practices, the relationships between literary groups such as the rederijkers and the visual culture of their time, the social and intellectual networks of Pieter Bruegel and other Flemish artists of the late 15th century and 16th century, the impact of the complex religious context on the artistic production of the time, the links between humanists and artists, the influence of Flemish artists of the previous generations on Bruegel and his contemporaries, etc.

Early career researchers are invited to submit proposals for a 15-minutes paper. The languages of the masterclass will be Dutch, French, and English. A description of the proposed paper (max. one page) and a short CV should be submitted to Micol Long ( and Ingrid Falque (, no later than October 15. Selected researchers will be notified in the first week of November.

This masterclass is jointly organised by the Vlaamse Werkgroep Mediëvistiek (Flemish Medievalist Association) and the Réseau des Médiévistes belges de Langue Française (Network of French-speaking Belgian Medievalists), with financial support of the F.R.S.-FNRS and the Fondation pour la protection du patrimoine culturel, historique et artisanal (Lausanne). The event will take place In Brussels (precise location to be announced later) on 25 January. On 24 January, Michel Weemans and Reindert Falkenburg will give a public lecture on their forthcoming book. Further practical details will be announced at a later stage.

[1] Reindert L. Falkenburg and Michel Weemans, Bruegel (Paris, Hazan: 2018).

[2] Mark Meadow, Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Netherlandish Proverbs and the Practice of Rhetoric (Zwolle, Waanders Publishers: 2002), 14.

[3] See among others: Walter S. Gibson, Pieter Bruegel and the Art of Laughter (Berkeley, University of California press<: 2006); Todd M. Richardson, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Art Discourse in the Sixteenth-Century Netherlands (Farnham, Ashgate: 2011); Bertram Kaschek, Weltzeit und Endzeit. Die »Monatsbilder« Piter Bruegels d.Ä. (München, Wilhelm Fink Verlag: 2012); Christina Currie and Dominique Allart, The Brueg(H)el Phenomenon. Paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger with a Special Focus on Technique and Copying Practice (Brussels, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage: 2012); Claudia Goldstein, Pieter Bruegel and the Culture of Early Modern Dinner Party (Farnham, Ashgate: 2013); Stephen Graham Hitchins, Art as History, history as Art. Jheronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder Assembling Knowledge not Setting Puzzles (Turnhout, Brepols: 2014); Jospeh Leo Koerner, Bosch and Bruegel. From Enemy Painting to Everyday Life (Princeton, Princeton University Press: 2016).