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The University of Southampton
Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture

Call for Papers - ‘Ritual, Commemoration, and Death: Pre-Modern Perspectives’

Published: 24 November 2022

The call for papers for the CMRC Annual Research Day is now open!

Ritualised commemoration of the dead is common to most cultures and took distinctive forms in the pre-modern world. From the seventh century Catholics recited prayers for the dead and had masses said for their souls. These rituals were reinforced by institution of All Souls’ Day in the liturgical calendar and growing belief in purgatory as a place in the afterlife where the living could help the dead attain salvation. The living increasingly arranged commemoration after their death through such rituals, appointing chantry priests and founding chantry chapels for this purpose by the late Middle Ages. Commemoration not only made provision for the next world but also celebrated the achievements and status of the deceased in this world, in particular high-ranking ecclesiastics and aristocrats, through funerary rituals and monuments. Although the Reformation abolished the idea of purgatory, masses and prayers for the dead, and chantries for Protestants, ritualised commemoration of the dead continued in other ways in early modern Western culture.

This is an important theme since it reveals much about contemporary attitudes to death, and to life, and shows how memory of the dead was constructed, especially among social elites. The recent funeral of Elizabeth II also makes it topical. Papers are, therefore, invited on all aspects of the theme. Please email brief proposals of no more than 150 words with a title to Prof. Peter D. Clarke as Director of CMRC ( ) by 5 January 2023. We would particularly welcome papers from doctoral students and early career researchers, both from within and outside the University of Southampton. We can offer travel bursaries of up to £50 each for PGR students from outside. The keynote speakers will include Anne Curry, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, University of Southampton, co-editor (with Susan Jenkins) of The Funeral Achievements of Henry V at Westminster Abbey: The Arms and Armour of Death.

Details of the Annual Research Day can be found here: ?

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