Borderlines XIX

Translating the Past: Appropriating the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

10th-12th April 2015

The 19th annual iteration of the Borderlines Medieval and Early Modern conference for post-graduate students welcomed more than 50 participants from across Ireland, the UK, and Europe to Queen’s University Belfast’s McClay Library over the Easter break. The theme for this year’s conference focused on the ‘translation’ of the past, both in terms of the historical work scholars undertake and representations of the past in the primary materials with which we work.

The conference afforded students, both MA and PhD, the valuable opportunity to present their research to an audience of their peers and to encounter work and discuss ideas with counterparts across a variety of disciplines and research interests. Delegates presented papers in the presence of established academic figures in their fields, both from QUB and from our two keynote speakers – Professor Richard North (UCL) and Dr Lucy Donkin (Bristol). They received supportive and constructive feedback on their work and, we hope, established some important contacts for their future academic careers. Dr Donkin’s presence at the roundtable discussion was particularly welcomed as we informally debated the self-reflexive, almost ‘confessional’ trope in scholarship alongside the importance of impact via our own work, living history, and even popular culture mediums.

Speaking of ‘impact’, a welcome addition to the conference programme was a demonstration from the HEMA-affiliated Medieval Combat Group. The martial artists provided an in-depth discussion and active demonstration of both the medieval weapons they use in training and the actual manuscript source images from which they work. Delegates from the conference were joined in the audience by students from the McClay library and the demonstration also attracted the attention of members of the public. This was an excellent opportunity to engage a wider audience with the theme of the conference and by all accounts was very well received by those in attendance.

Combat1                                    Combat2

The organisers (myself, Margaret Tedford, and Natalie Calder) would once again like to thank everyone who assisted in putting together the conference and helping everything run so smoothly. We are especially indebted to Carmel and the School of English for their support in the lead-up, to the McClay staff for their hospitality, and of course to all our wonderful speakers and delegates who proved that an interdisciplinary culture and collegial atmosphere is alive and well in the post-graduate community at Queen’s. We are delighted to be passing the torch on to Trinity College Dublin where Borderlines XX will be hosted in 2016!

Rachel Reid