2018: 15th International Symposium on Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Topic: Pleasure and Leisure: Toys, Games, and Entertainment in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age



The University of Arizona, Tucson

May 3-6, 2018 (actual conference

May 4-5, 2018)https://aclassen.faculty.arizona.edu/pleasure-and-leisure-program

Organizer and Chair:

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


This is an international symposium, discussing an important, but mostly ignored area of pre-modern life, that is, pleasure and leisure, combined with an investigation of toys, games, and entertainment. In our research we tend to focus on courtly life, knighthood, the Church, courtly literature, war, politics, economics, and travel. However, just as today, people in the past also needed entertainment, enjoyment, fun, and games. Those were also mentioned in the literary sources and are reflected, to some extent, in visual documents. But it would be difficult, if not impossible, to identify a medieval or early modern painting presenting to us a drinking party, or a winter scene with the entire population enjoying the outdoors despite the cold temperatures, as was no longer so unusual in the late Renaissance and the Baroque (van Eyck, Rubens, etc.). Nevertheless, a careful examination of available narratives or data can shed light on the ways how people spent their leisure time, and how they managed to enjoy an evening in friendly company also in the Middle Ages and beyond. 


Deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2018 (maximum participants: 25). But please contact me if you have an interesting paper; I might still have a slot for you.





Program (tba)


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.


Registration: $120. This will not only cover the conference, but also provide you with a free copy of the subsequent volume, for which I will do intensive research together with all contributors.


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 volumes in our series.


For anyone interested in joining the symposium as part of the audience, please contact the organizer. Student participation will be most welcome.


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 a special arrangement with Riverpark Inn,  $76/night (plus tax [12.05%] plus $2 per night). Price subject to change. Within the USA, call: 1-800 551-1466, refer to “Dept. of German Studies/ “Pleasure and Leisure in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time,” or to my name (Classen).  Local number: 520 239-2300. Transportation to and from the symposium (at the University of Arizona), will be provided by means of the new streetcar ($4./day, covered by the registration).  For international guests, please fax your reservations to: 011- 520-239-2329.


The hotel can possibly pick you up from the airport if you make a reservation ahead of time and if the van is available. Email your itinerary to Jill Ward, Manager. You are expected to tip the drivers, please, roughly $5 or more each way.


For a downtown map, click on map


For a campus map, click on campus




Alternative transportation from the airport: There are three additional (common) options:


1. Bus no. 25 to downtown ($1.75), 6th Ave. and Pennington St. right next to 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 (this is by now all a pleasant walk, with good sidewalks, traffic lights, etc, so really safe). Or you can call the hotel at 239-2300 (but they might not have the van available). Alternatively, you can walk down Congress West to the I-10, pass under it, then turn left (South) and walk along Frontage Road to the Hotel (max. 15 minutes), also good sidewalks, traffic lights, etc. But now there is the better option: Buy a transfer ticket (same price) for the bus, and when you get to Ronstead, go to Congress, which runs east-west parallel to it, and hop on the street car, the ticket is still valid, and the street car will stop right next to the hotel.


For bus no. 25 (really easy and very cheap, just $1.50), see their schedule). Once you have reached Ronstadt downtown (Pennington St/6th Ave.), follow the instructions outlined above.


For a map downtown: https://www.google.com/maps/@32.2228412,-110.9643665,15z




2. Take the airport shuttle (one way: ca. $28; round trip: ca. $45), 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.


With many thanks to our sponsors: 


logo.German Studies


French and Italian


spanish and portuguese


SILLC logo




Deadline for submission of abstracts: January 31, 2018, but feel free to send an inquiry even after that date, to aclassen@email.arizona.edu