Orderic Vitalis: New Perspectives on the Historian and his World

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St John's College, University of Durham
Organising committee: Dr Giles Gasper (Durham), Charlie Rozier (Durham), Dan Roach (Exeter).

The life and works of Orderic Vitalis (1075-c.1142) are widely regarded as providing some of the most important evidence for our understanding of the history of the Anglo-Norman world. Orderic is known principally for his extensive thirteen-book Historia ecclesiastica (completed 1141); a text which has long been recognised as a treasure trove of factual information and contemporary opinion. The work has been explored at length by some of the most influential Anglo-Norman and French scholars of the last three centuries, and today no survey of contemporary church, political or social history is complete without consultation of Orderic's narrative. However, while many have used Orderic as a source for enquiry, the Historia's sheer size and scope have ensured that many of its major themes remain largely untouched.

This conference will provide a stimulating environment in which to explore new aspects and interdisciplinary approaches to Orderic Vitalis and his work. The first such event devoted entirely to the exploration of this subject, it gathers together leading international authorities on Anglo-Norman political, church, manuscript and intellectual history and contemporary literary theory and marks the culmination of a successful collaborative research network between Durham University, University of East Anglia, University of York and University of Lincoln; a movement which has already received significant funding from the Durham Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Orderic Vitalis: a Collaborative Workshop, 28-29 May, 2010). The organisational team is represented by Dr Giles Gasper (Durham) Charlie Rozier (Durham) and Dan Roach (Exeter), with advisory support from Prof. Stephen Church (University of East Anglia) and Dr Elizabeth Tyler (York). Housed in the midst of Durham's UNESCO World Heritage Site, St John's College provides the ideal venue, providing accommodation for delegates and a superb conference suite.

The key aims of the conference are:

Summarise and promote awareness of the present state of knowledge surrounding Orderic Vitalis and his works.
Open new lines for enquiry and suggest fresh approaches to the study of Orderic, as suggested by leading academics and postgraduate researchers.
Provide a platform for the dissemination of innovative research surrounding Orderic.
Share the successes of the conference through the publication of an edited volume of its proceedings.

This event will be held in Durham over 9-11 April 2013, and will feature up to twenty research papers in addition to a keynote addresses given by Professor Elisabeth van Houts (Cambridge University). An open call for papers will be circulated in early 2012, and the conference will be promoted at the forthcoming International Medieval congresses at Kalamazoo (May 2012) and Leeds (July 2012). Papers should last thirty minutes, and contribute to the general themes of the conference. Particular invited areas of discussion include, but are not limited to:

Orderic's Historia ecclesiastica: its structure, sources, content, aims, and audience.
Personalities, themes and events recorded in Orderic's various historical writings, and his reasons for their inclusion.
Orderic's wider scholarly and scribal career, including his interpolations into the Gesta Normannorum Ducumof William of Jumièges, and numerous additions within the surviving manuscripts of his home monastery of Saint-Évroul.
Orderic's travels, administrative activities, and/or studies away from Saint-Évroul.
Orderic's worldview and his networks of knowledge exchange and transfer.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit abstracts of between 250-300 words, and should also include their contact details (name, affiliation, email address). The deadline for submissions is 31 August, 2012. A small number of bursaries will be offered to postgraduate speakers in order to contribute towards travel costs. If you wish to apply for one of these, please indicate this when submitting an abstract.

For further information about Orderic Vitalis: New perspectives on the historian and his world or to submit an abstract please email Charlie Rozier, at: c.c.rozier@durham.ac.uk or Dan Roach, at: dr229@ex.ac.uk