Interrogating the ‘Germanic’: a category and its use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

To be held at the University of York, 14-15 May 2016

This two-day conference is on the use of the categorical term ‘Germanic’ – frequently used as a linguistic category, ethnonym, or descriptive identifier for a range of forms of cultural and literary material. Frequently, the term is applied to peoples, languages, and material culture found in non-Roman north-western and central Europe in classical antiquity, and to these phenomena in the western Roman Empire’s successor states. It is often treated as a legitimate, all-encompassing term for the culture of these regions. Its usage is sometimes intended to suggest a shared social identity or ethnic affinity among those who produce these phenomena.

The concept has received substantial critical scrutiny, but discussion on its legitimacy has rarely taken place in a setting dedicated to dialogue and adequate representation of all participants. The few publications directly addressing this question tend to give voice largely to those opposed to the term, and others behave as if its legitimacy is beyond reproach. This conference aims to highlight a longstanding debate for a new generation of scholars by interrogating two opposing schools of thought, and shedding new light on issues manifest in present historical discourse.

Keynote Speakers:
Prof. Michael Kulikowski (Pennsylvania State University)
Dr. Philipp von Rummel (German Archaeological Institute)

We welcome abstracts (max. 250 words) on issues relating to the use of this category, either in the study of Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages or as used by the contemporaries of this span of time. Our aim is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and to enable scholars of sometimes opposed schools of thought to engage in productive and collegial dialogue. As such, we welcome contributions from the disciplines of:
History of Art,
Literature, Linguistics, Philology,
Or any combination of the above. Abstracts with a clear scope for extending debate among conference delegates are especially encouraged.

Application deadline: 27 January 2016

Conference Organisers:
James Harland, University of York
Matthias Friedrich, University of Freiburg
Nik Gunn, University of York