Medieval and Early Modern Spaces and Places

Event Date: 
23 Feb 2018

 The Open University, Milton Keynes


Following a successful first workshop in February 2017, The Open University will be hosting a one-day conference on spaces and places on 23 February 2018, drawing upon the interdisciplinary research interests of the OU’s Medieval and Early Modern Research Group.

Theoretical approaches have informed new ways of thinking about the social production of space (from Henri Lefebvre to David Harvey) and recent research networks have also stimulated novel approaches to early modern spaces (PALATIUM). Early modern spaces were mutable and permeable, and new technologies, objects, and social formations played a role in defining spaces as well as identities. The expansion of trade routes and economic networks, the development of the printing press, struggles for territorial power and religious wars, and new diplomatic frameworks, all contributed to new ways of conceptualising geographies and spaces.


This annual conference is fundamentally interdisciplinary: literary, musical, architectural, artistic and religious spaces will be the subjects of enquiry, not as discrete or separate entities, but ones which overlapped, came into contact with one another, and at times were in conflict. The creation of boundaries and demarcations in subsequent centuries was often a result of these early approaches to spaces.


The conference will examine life in buildings, institutions and broader geographical areas from a variety of perspectives and will consider the following questions:

  • How were medieval and early modern spaces adapted and transformed through the movement of material and immaterial things?
  • Which particular aspects of political, social and economic infrastructures enabled the exchange of objects and ideas?
  • To what extent did a sense of place depend upon the activities taking place there?


Please send a 150 word abstract along with a short biography to Leah Clark ( and Helen Coffey ( by 31 August 2017.


The Open University, founded as a ‘university of the air’, draws together diverse people and ideas across spaces and places. Although based in Milton Keynes (conceived as a ‘utopic’ city), our students study our modules across the globe, making it a fitting place to host an annual event, which probes the concepts of space and place.


Submission date for papers: 
31 Aug 2017