Call for Papers
IAS-Sponsored Session at 59th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Kalamazoo, MI, 9-11 May 2024
Session Sponsored by the Italian Art Society

Spatial Confinement and Virtual Peregrinations of Women in Late Medieval Italy (hybrid format pending ICMS approval)

Session Organizer: Shane Harless, Rice University,

Abstract: Women’s movement during the Middle Ages was often controlled within domestic life, the church, and the convent. Variations of enclosure were practiced within the home to safeguard maidens’ chastity; laywomen were periodically confined to the chiesa delle donne during Mass; and investiture symbolized a nun’s death to the world. This isolation permeates the secular and sacred lives of women throughout the Middle Ages. As a solution to this regulated mobility, visual reproductions of Jerusalem provided females an avenue for virtual pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
This session welcomes papers exploring women’s spatial confinement within domestic and cloistered environments, and their visual responses to representations of sacred topography. We seek papers exploring examples of how devotional art within manuscript illuminations, wall paintings, altarpieces, and private tabernacles functioned as a conduit for virtual pilgrimage within the restricted lives of laywomen and female religious in late medieval Italy.

Please submit your full name, current affiliation, paper title, CV, and abstract (300-word maximum) to the session organizer, Shane Harless (
The deadline for submissions is 1 September, 2023.

Please note: As this is a sponsored panel, all speakers must be (or become) members of the Italian Art Society in 2023. Please note that there are free one-year sospesi memberships available for eligible speakers in IAS sponsored sessions. Information can be found on our website here:

The IAS offers several types of conference travel grants which help support graduate students and junior scholars, as well as scholars who are traveling internationally to present in IAS- Sponsored sessions. Applications for these grants are announced and opened in the late fall.

More information on the various conference travel grants be found on our website:

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