2013: 11th Int. Symposium: Death and the Culture of Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time

11th International Symposium on the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age: Death and the Culture of Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time

at the University of Arizona, Tucson, May 1-4, 2014

Richard A. Harvill Buildg. 102 and Meinel Optics Conference room, 8th floor (Fri morning), #821

Fri afternoon, 1-5 p.m., Old Chemistry, 134.

For a map, click here.


Support comes, among others, from the









Checklist for the Preparation of the Article Submission


Concept and Framework:

Continuing with our quest into fundamental issues characterizing premodern society, this symposium will examine how death was viewed by people in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Time, how they developed a complex set of cultural rituals and ceremonies focusing on death, and how they responded to death in philosophical, theological, literary, and art-historical terms. Papers are invited that return to this supremely important topic for all cultural histories and offer innovative approaches and critical perspectives.


Title of the 2014 Project:
Death and the Culture of Death, Past and Present

 When the Dia de los muertos comes around in Southern Arizona, we are suddenly reminded of the strong European roots of the culture here in the Southwest. The masks and music, images and costumes displayed then are strongly reminiscent of late medieval Europe, when the culture of death had reached unforeseen dimensions. The epidemic Black Death from ca. 1347 to ca. 1351, which experienced numerous repetitions in the following decades, had a huge impact on everyday culture, as most dramatically illustrated by the ubiquitous Dance of Death motif in paintings and plays. In architecture, in all the other arts as well as in philosophy and religion, the theme of death gained in preponderance and deeply influenced early modern culture. Late medieval and early modern fascination with death carried over to the Americas, promoted by the various Catholic orders and missionaries, and indirectly we continue to be heirs of that culture of death, however, intriguingly blended with local cultures that make the Dia de los muertos to such a unique festivity. The ‘Culture of Death’ is a highly interdisciplinary topic that connects our world today with that of those who came before us.

We intend to organize a conference that brings together scholars from many disciplines and countries to discuss the phenomenon of the culture of death in the premodern world as well as the continued fascination with death until today. Speakers from varied disciplines—History, Anthropology, Religion, Literary Studies, Music, Art History, Architecture, Mexican American Studies, and Native American Studies among others—will be invited to convene for a two-day conference at the University of Arizona in May 2014. Medical researchers dealing with epidemics and the phenomenon of dying are very much invited to participate.
We hope to attract ca. 24 speakers, i.e., 12 per day, international and national scholars as well as graduate students, thus creating an interdisciplinary conversation about a fundamental issue of human life.
The conference will be the basis for a highly interdisciplinary conversation that will ultimately translate into a scholarly volume to appear within the book series “Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Culture (De Gruyter), ed. by Profs. A. Classen and Marilyn Sandidge (Westfield, MA).



Dr. Albrecht Classen
University Distinguished Professor

Dept. of German Studies, 301 LSB, The University of Arizona

520 621-1395; aclassen@u.arizona.edu; aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu


Deadline for submission of abstracts: January 31, 2014, but feel free to send an inquiry even after that date, to aclassen@u.arizona.edu

Location of Symposium: Richard A. Harvill Buildg. 102 (Fri morning at Meinel Optics Building, 1630 E University Blvd., conference room, 8th floor, with lunch, then Harvill 102 in the afternoon, and all day Sat. May 3, 2014), University of Arizona.

This is a self-sustaining academic symposium. Participants are expected to secure travel funds and other resources to cover their costs (housing, registration) from their home institution.

Selected papers will be accepted for publication in a planned volume (de Gruyter; see my webpage on Fundamentals, under “Middle Ages,” right hand side navigation bar). Each contributor to the volume will receive a free copy and can negotiate with the publisher reduced prices for any of the other volumes in our series.

The registration fee of $90. will include all meals and refreshments, three receptions in the evenings, and an excursion to San Xavier del Bac. Selected papers will be accepted for publication in a planned volume (de Gruyter; see my webpage on Fundamentals. Each contributor to the volume will receive a free copy and can negotiate with the publisher reduced prices for any of the other volumes in our series. The volume on “Mental Health” from the 2013 conference is scheduled to appear in June 2014. I hope to get the volume on “Death” into print by June 2015.

For anyone interested in joining the symposium as part of the audience, please contact the organizer. Student participation will be most welcome. UA students and faculty are welcome to join any time free of charge.

Languages accepted at the symposium: English, French, German, and in exceptional cases Spanish. Non-English papers must be accompanied by a good English summary available as a hand-out. Abstracts of all papers will be posted well ahead of the symposium.

Hotel Accommodations: I have made special rate arrangements with Riverpark Inn,  $69/night (plus tax [12.05%] plus $2 local tax per night). Within the USA, call: 1-800 551-1466, refer to “Dept. of German Studies/Death and the Culture of Death,” or to my name.  Local number: 520 239-2300. Transportation to and from the symposium (at the University of Arizona), will be provided.  For international guests, please fax your reservations to: 011- 520-239-2329

The Riverpark Inn also deserves our gratitude for its generosity and hospitality making the stay by our guests the most affordable and comfortable.


Riverpark Inn Logo


For a downtown map, click on map

For a campus map, click on campus
Transportation from the airport: There are three options:

1. Bus no. 6 to downtown ($1.50; depending on traffic, ca. 1 hour), Ronstadt Bus Depot, from there you walk west on Congress to Granada, turn left (south) to the I-10, through the tunnel, and the hotel is right there. Or you can call the hotel at 239-2300. Alternatively, you can walk down Congress to the I-10, pass under it, then turn left and walk along Frontage Road to the Hotel (max. 15 minutes).

For bus no. 6 (really easy and very cheap), see their schedule: https://www.suntran.com/pdf/routes/Rt_6_Win_07.pdf). Once you have reached Ronstadt downtown (end station), follow these instructions:

Map route:

2. Take the airport shuttle (one way: ca. $28; round trip: ca. $48), Stagecoach (https://www.azstagecoach.com). Subject to change
Reservation Information 520-889-1000 • reservations@azstagecoach.com.

3. Regular taxi (ca. $25-$35. one way).

All prices subject to change.




Moreover, I am very grateful for financial support from: The Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry, UA, and the departments of German Studies, History, English, Religious Study, French and Italian, the Division of Late Medieval and Reformation Studies, Anthropology, Mexican-American Studies, then from Prof. Lynn Nadal (Psychology), and Prof. John Olsen (Anthropology) (all UA), and also from Prof. Connie L. Scarborough (Spanish), Texas Tech University. Thanks are also due to UAMARRC at UA, which is funded by the Dean of COH, for its financial support.

It is an honor to receive so much help from so many wonderful colleagues and institutions. I am also very thankful for the contributors who come from many different countries in the world!